The Cariboo Badger Project
Badgers are carnivorous mammals that live in the grasslands and dry forests of the interior of British Columbia. Even though we live with badgers, not many people are fortunate enough to see one because badgers generally move around at night and are secretive by nature. In 2003, the Cariboo Badger Project was initiated to learn more about these elusive and endangered animals in the Cariboo Region of BC.
Badgers are among the largest members of the weasel family. Flattened body, black and white face, white stripe on top of head, long front claws, coarse gray-yellow fur. Lower legs are black.
Primarily Columbian ground squirrels (gophers) and marmots – other items include small rodents, birds, fish, insects and some berries. Many landowners consider badgers beneficial by reducing rodent populations, such as ground squirrels.
Grasslands and dry open forests associated with suitable soils for digging burrows are ideal. Badgers are often seen near roads, ranches or in recent cutblocks. Badgers can dig up to a meter per minute in pursuit of prey or escaping predators!
What Do Burrows Look Like?
Badger burrows are oval in shape and about 30 cm in diameter with a large fan of excavated dirt at the entrance. Fox and coyote dens are taller than they are wide, while marmot and ground squirrel burrows are smaller & more round. The amount of dirt excavated is vari-able and is not a good indicator of which species dug the burrow. Claw marks may be parallel to the ground.
How the Research is Done
Badgers are live trapped and im-planted with a radio-transmitter. The badger is then returned to its burrow. It can then be tracked using a radio-telemetry receiver. This can be done from an aircraft or on the ground directly to their burrow. Information about movement patterns, home range size, habitat type, birth rates and causes of death can be documented.
Previous DNA hair-snagging techniques in the Cariboo have determined that home ranges for females averaged 32 km² while males averaged 358 km² – that’s 3-100 times larger than in other studies in the USA.
Loss of habitat and prey, declining populations, and high mortality from roadkill and human persecution are the causes for their endangered status in BC.
What We Have Learned
In 2007, the Cariboo Badger Project partnered with Ministry of Transportation to investigate the relationship between badgers and roads. Roadkill has been identified as a leading cause of mortality for badgers in BC. Research will focus on tracking badgers detailed movements to determine where and when badgers cross roads.
This information will be used in designing new highways and upgrading existing ones. Options include; installing dry culverts, drift fences, permeable concrete roadside barriers, and signage. This is the first intensive radio-telemetry study to address road mortality ever conducted in Canada.
You can help!
We depend on sightings of badgers to identify areas where the species still occurs. Also, roadkilled badgers provide vital information, so we need to retrieve dead badgers as soon as possible after they have been struck.
If you have recently seen a badger, fresh burrows, or a dead badger, please call:
Ministry of Environment 250-395-7853
1-888-223-4376 toll-free elsewhere in BC
Richard Klafki 250-344-1002
For more information on badgers, please visit: www.badgers.bc.ca
Note: This page is taken from the brochure “Cariboo Badger Project” of the BC Badger Recovery Project and is current up to July 17, 2009