Kootenay National Park
The Badger - A Species at Risk
Kootenay National Park and Badger Conservation
Badgers are an important part of the East Kootenay ecosystem© R. Klafki
Parks Canada and Species at Risk
Inside national parks, all native plants and animals are protected. However, extra effort is directed towards species at risk of extinction. About half of the country's species at risk can be found in national parks. This includes the American Badger which is ranked endangered' by COSEWIC and red listed' in British Columbia.
The key to the survival of any species is maintaining the health of the ecosystem that provides it with food and habitat. An ecosystem is healthy when it has all of its native species, intact food webs and normally functioning ecological processes. The biggest threat to species at risk is loss of habitat due to human activities.
Reaching Across Boundaries
In 1920, when the boundaries of Kootenay National Park were first drawn, no one thought about ecosystems. Now we know that ecosystems are not neatly contained inside the park but overlap into the surrounding landscape. Today, park managers are working with other agencies, landowners and local communities to take care of the regional ecosystem that we all share. This approach is the key to conserving wide-ranging carnivores like the badger.
Open Douglas fir forest© Parks Canada / T. Hobb
Badgers on the Bench
The south end of Kootenay is warmer and drier than elsewhere in the park. Here, along the benches above the Columbia River, open Douglas fir forests intermingle with grassy slopes. This area provides habitat for rare species such as the American badger, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and cougar. But the park alone cannot provide enough space for any of these species.
Kootenay National Park participates in these projects:
- The East Kootenay Badger Project
Since 1996, a full scale radio-telemetry tracking study of badgers has been underway, partly sponsored by Parks Canada's Species at Risk Recovery Funds. Badger researchers are assessing population trends, habitat needs and the effects of human activities. What we learn through this research may help us recover other species that face similar problems.
- National Badger Recovery Team
The goal of this team is to recover self-sustaining populations of the jeffersonii subspecies of badger in British Columbia.
- Stewardship and Education
An important part of Parks Canada's mandate is to encourage environmental stewardship. Just like the ecosystems they aim to protect, these programs must reach across park boundaries into local communities. Kootenay National Park staff and summer students have made presentations about badger ecology and conservation to a variety of audiences. Kootenay also helps to promote stewardship practises on private land that protect badger habitat.