American badger (subspecies jeffersonii)
Weigh 6 to 7 kg – the weight of a small dog
Eats ground squirrels and other small mammals
Lifespan of 14 years
The badger is a low-slung animal with short powerful legs. When running, it appears to flow along the ground but its usual pace is a leisurely waddle.
Badgers like grasslands and open habitats. In Kootenay, they are found at the dry south end of the park where open Douglas fir forests intermingle with grassy slopes. This area provides key habitat for badgers and other rare grassland species.
The badger plays a key role in the grassland ecosystem. It digs, aerates and mixes the soil, helping plants to grow. Their abandoned holes are often used as homes by other animals.
Badgers need a lot of space. A badger study in the East Kootenays found that males have territories that average 500 km². To get to different parts of their range, they have to cross roads and developed areas. This makes protecting them challenging.
Where to see
Look for badgers in and around Redstreak Campground in the summer.
Secretive and seldom seen, they are mostly active at night. Please do not approach badgers or den sites.
Why is the American badger in danger?
The jeffersonii subspecies of the American badger faces the following threats:
- towns, roads, and other land uses have carved up and consumed their grassland habitat,
- every year many badgers are killed by cars - they dig under obstacles rather than climbing over, so concrete highway barriers can trap them on the roadway,
- fire suppression has resulted in trees and shrubs invading open habitats, and
- lack of prey species such as ground squirrels makes survival tough.
What are we doing to help this species?
Kootenay National Park is helping to recover American badger populations by:
- monitoring badger activity in the park using remote wildlife cameras and sightings,
- increasing badger habitat by restoring open forest and grasslands, and
- working with the National Badger Recovery Team to reduce highway mortality and encourage private land owners to protect badgers.