They might look pretty different, but did you know that the American badger is related to both otters and weasels? Don’t let their cuddly appearance fool you, though: these ferret-family furballs are feisty foragers! Known as fossorial carnivores, American badgers are built to hunt underground prey. Their long snouts help them sniff out small rodents like voles and ground squirrels, and their long claws (their front ones can grow up to 5 cm long!) help them tear through soil once they’ve found their buried buffet.
Home is where the grassland is
Being hunters that are built to find food underground, it makes sense that badgers do best in places where the soil is loose and not full of large woody roots and other rocky materials. Enter the grassland! These ecosystems usually have soil that crumbles easily, and the thin roots of the grasses that grow there allow badgers to dig long tunnels and hunt underground quickly. Being open habitats, grasslands also don’t offer prey many places to hide, which makes the badger’s hunt even easier! Unfortunately, as cities and towns spread, and grasslands become converted to farm fields and houses, the important grassland habitat badgers rely on is disappearing – and quickly. That’s where you come in!
Will you be a badger buddy?
Earth Rangers is working with the Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) on a restoration project that will enhance badger habitat on a 1,600-hectare property in British Columbia called Kootenay River Ranch. This conservation area is home to some of the country’s remaining American badgers (with fewer than an estimated 4,000 remaining in the wild across Canada), which is why it’s so important we do what we can to make it a safe home for these cute critters! The conservation area contains a huge stretch of open forests and grasslands, and with about 25% of the land already improved through restoration, it’s well on its way to becoming even better badger habitat. NCC is working hard to continue their restoration to return the land back to its characteristic open landscape by doing things like grinding or chipping small trees and scattering woody debris piles, NCC is working to restore the open fire-maintained grasslands and help protect this important badger habitat for years to come – but they can’t do it alone!