Although not as famous as their honey badger cousins, American badgers deserve their fair share of attention. Not only do they serve an essential role in the ecosystem, but they also face many struggles for survival.
Like every animal, badgers experience threats to their survival, from large predators to habitat loss. If we want to prevent these fierce little fellas from going extinct, we must take the time to understand them and figure out how we can help.
What are the dangers badgers encounter, how have we impacted them, and is it already too late?
Join us in Floofmania as we dive into the subject of American badgers and their conservation status.
Are Badgers On The Endangered Species List?
Table of Contents
- 1 Are Badgers On The Endangered Species List?
- 2 Where In North America Are Badgers Most Endangered?
- 3 What Dangers Do Badgers Face?
- 4 How Is The American Badger Being Protected?
- 5 Why Is The American Badger Important?
Thankfully, as of 2022, the American badger is listed as “least concern,” meaning that their population is currently stable. That doesn’t mean our furry friends are totally out of danger, though.
While the badger population remains healthy as a whole, it is shrinking. This population decline has been attributed to factors like habitat loss, climate change, and human intervention.
These crises have caused the species to become provincially endangered in some areas, meaning that the badger population in some places has been severely declining. Places like British Colombia have reported badgers as endangered and are now taking steps to restore the population.
If this trend continues, there is a real possibility that badgers can face local extinction and disappear from these areas. If that happens, the local extinction will weaken both the environment and the species as a whole.
Where Can Badgers Be Found?
American Badgers are found throughout the North American continent, specifically in the west coast, southern, and midwest regions.
They can be located as far south as northern Mexico and Texas, east as Michigan and Illinois, and west as California. Other states that have badgers in them include Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, in Canada, badgers are found mainly in the southern provinces such as British Colombia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
Where In North America Are Badgers Most Endangered?
There are two places where badgers have already been listed as endangered, British Columbia and Ontario. This population loss is mainly due to increased land development in these regions, leading to habitat fragmentation and fatal encounters with humans.
With a higher mortality rate and less territory, immense pressure has been placed on the local badger population. One part of British Colombia has been badly hit, the Upper Colombia Valley River. In this area, there were less than 200 recorded badgers in the year 2000 compared to the thousands before.
Ontario is a similar story where increasing human presence in the region has pushed the badger population to near extinction. Today, there are less than 200 badgers in the whole province.
Aside from these two provinces, other places have become acutely aware of their badger shrinking populations, such as California, which has listed American badgers as a species of concern.
Has The American Badger Already Gone Extinct in Some Places?
Thankfully, there are no places where badgers have gone entirely extinct just yet, but this may change in the near future, particularly in areas with extensive urban and agricultural development.
As we continue to push deeper into the wilderness, we leave our furry friends with fewer places to go and make their homes.
How Many Badgers Are Left?
The current population of American badgers is unknown, even by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Since our furry friends are spread across such a vast distance, it is difficult to estimate the number of badgers.
American badgers don’t make this any easier because they avoid human contact. These clever animals are quite shy around humans and have learned to avoid us, making it challenging to conduct research.
The roughest estimates would put the population of badgers across the continent at several hundred thousand, which is a significant number. The US does not have reliable statistics on their badger population so we can’t know for certain the exact numbers.
Canada is a bit better as some places offer research on the badger population in their province.
|Canadian Province||American Badger Population|
|Saskatchewan Province||13,700-28,000 Badgers|
|Manitoba Province||3,000-5,000 Badgers|
|Ontario Province||200 Badgers|
|British Colombia Province||250 Badgers|
What Dangers Do Badgers Face?
American badgers typically make their homes in forests, grasslands, and even suburban areas. But even in their homes, badgers are not safe as they face many predators and dangers.
How Are Humans A Threat To Badgers?
The biggest threat that badgers face isn’t from predators or natural disasters but from human activity. Many badgers are threatened by hunting, trapping, and habitat loss and those are just the direct causes; aside from that, countless threats come as indirect consequences of human activity. These can include:
- Car Accidents
- Getting Trapped in Unfamiliar Territory
- Being Attacked by Pets
Why Are American Badgers Hunted?
Badgers often find themselves in the crosshairs of intrepid hunters looking for a target. As they are not listed as endangered in many places, badgers can be hunted year-round in most parts of the US.
Hunters have several reasons to go after badgers. The first is for commercial reasons, as badger pelts are a valuable commodity. Their pelts are often used for clothing, paintbrushes, and other commodities. These practices have limitations, though, as fur trapping specifically is limited to a designated season.
Aside from the monetary gain, some people choose to hunt badgers simply for the fun of it. Recreational hunting is a major sport in many countries, including the USA, and badgers are a popular choice for prey among hunters because it remains legal to hunt them.
Lastly, there is the fact that badgers can cause plenty of property damage. Many farmers will tell you badgers can be quite the pest due to their digging. Badgers’ constant digging loosens the soil, damages irrigation, and rips up crops, while the holes they leave behind can injure farm animals that stumble in them.
All these problems can be costly to farmers who prefer to hunt badgers before they can do too much damage.
Are American Badgers Threatened By Disease?
While no animal is immune to disease, some animals can are more vulnerable than others, such as badgers. Since badgers might live close to humans, they are exposed to new substances and chemicals that can harm them.
Studies have shown that badgers living near farms are exposed to chemicals meant for pest control, and these chemicals can be toxic which has led to badgers getting sick.
Aside from new diseases, other illnesses like distemper and rabies remain a problem for badgers which they can transmit to other animals.
If the situation gets terrible and leads to an outbreak, some governments may resort to culling sick badgers to prevent them from infecting other animals.
What Predators Do Badgers Have?
While predators themselves, badgers aren’t at the top of the food chain and have to survive with other animals trying to make snacks on them. Bobcats, eagles, cougars, and wolves are common threats to badgers. These bigger predators can easily overpower the smaller badger and turn these mammals into dinner.
Badgers survive by hiding or burrowing in underground shelters that make it harder for animals to reach them.
While not necessarily predators of badgers, pet owners should beware, as badgers can often get into trouble with dogs. These animals will fight, and some dog breeds can be larger and stronger than badgers.
Badgers Are Victims of Accidents
Humans can be a serious problem for badgers because of many people’s actions, though not all of the problems need to be intentional. Just having their homes and roads nearby can be a threat to badgers because of the hazards they pose.
Although the forests can be dangerous for our badger friends, they are familiar with the environment and have an easier time surviving there. Farmland and suburbs, though, can be alien territory to them, and they don’t know what is and isn’t safe. This lack of understanding leads to plenty of accidents.
Take roads, for example. Badgers (like some people) don’t understand how they work and cross when they like, leading to car accidents.
Other places that can be a hazard are storm drains and canals where badgers can fall in, and while American badgers are good swimmers, they can’t always get out, which means they often drown. Other times they might simply get stuck and leave themselves vulnerable to predators.
American Badgers Suffer From Habitat Loss
The biggest threat that American badgers face today is habitat loss. In many areas, they are losing their traditional grassland habitats to agricultural or urban development. Badgers tend to stay in grassy regions because of availability, room to dig their holes, and plenty of shelter from predators.
Without that, badgers are more vulnerable to predators and have less access to the resources they need to survive. In these situations, badgers will either need to subsist on smaller land or try their luck living in farmland, which are imperfect solutions.
Habitat Fragmentation is Becoming An Issue
Even if the habitat of the badgers isn’t destroyed, habitat fragmentation can be nearly as bad. This is when one extensive habitat is broken into several smaller areas.
The badgers in these areas now exist separated from each other, and this weakens the species as a whole since now these different groups can’t interact with each other or have access to the other’s resources. A situation like that makes it harder for badgers to find mates or grow the population since they cannot interact.
Issues like starvation and inbreeding become more common as animals cannot easily cross boundaries.
How Is The American Badger Being Protected?
One of the best ways to keep an animal from going extinct is through government protection. People are much less inclined to harm them when there are legal consequences. Such privileges are typically reserved for endangered animals, but some states offer our badger friends protections too.
American Badgers Are Protected By Funding For Research
While not a direct protection for badgers, research is key to understanding the best ways to help these mammals. A significant problem with conservation efforts is that there simply isn’t much research on American badgers, such as areas of concern or population estimates.
Research groups and government agencies are now investing more time in understanding badgers to respond better to the issues they might face.
Limiting Hunting Of American Badgers Help Protect Their Numbers
The most common interaction between badgers and humans usually involves hunting. People have many reasons to hunt badgers, whether for their fur, for sport, or because they might be damaging their property.
Whatever the reason, hunting has severely affected the badger population, but thankfully the government is stepping in to try and address the issue:
While hunting badgers isn’t entirely illegal, there are now some limitations that prevent anyone from doing it. If you want to hunt badgers, you need one of the following:
- Acquire licenses
- Have probable cause
Every state requires that you have a proper hunting license to go after fur-bearing animals such as our badger friends. The local government will need you to present this before you are allowed to go hunting; otherwise, you can face punishment.
The only exception is if the badger is causing damage to your property. If the government deems that the badger is responsible, they can let you hunt the animal, but they only let you go after the animal in a responsible manner.
American Badgers Are Protected By Controlling Habitat Loss
Another leading cause of the badge population decline was habitat loss, which the government understands. In Canada, the badger is listed as an endangered species, which entitles the animals and their habitats to protection.
Places, where the badgers make their habitats, are now off limits for land development, meaning that the badgers are free to begin rebuilding their population as there will be fewer interactions between them and humans.
Educating Farmers Ultimately Help Protect American Badgers
Badgers often earn the ire of local landowners because of their habit of causing property damage. In response, these farmers tend to hunt badgers since that is their legal right.
However, governments are trying to curb these actions and look for an alternative. Education programs are in place to help teach people about the importance of badgers to the ecosystem. One of the things they hope these programs will do is convince people to capture badgers alive instead of hunting them.
If they catch badgers, the government can relocate them to places far away where they can repopulate.
Why Is The American Badger Important?
Badgers play an essential role in the grassland ecosystem, especially given their role as specialist carnivores. Unlike generalists who go after most animals, specialists target a particular niche, making them difficult to replace.
For badgers, their niche is going after other diggers, such as prairie dogs and gophers. That is something some predators might struggle with which. Aside from prairie dogs, badgers also eat insects that can be a nuisance to animals and plants.
Are American Badgers Good For The Environment?
Although we often associate them with pests, American badgers do a lot more for us than we realize. Ironically, while farmers usually hunt them for damaging crops (for some good reason), they help reduce the damage to crops.
Badgers regularly eat marmots, such as gophers and prairie dogs, equally responsible for digging up crops. This prevents their population from growing out of control and overwhelming farmers.
The same is true for insects that badgers eagerly devour. Many of these insects eat and damage crops.
Author: Quade Ong
Hello there, my name is Quade. I have been a writer for three years but an animal lover for over two decades. I grew up in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, which has given me the blessing of seeing all sorts of beautiful animals. Now I strive to learn not just about the animals I am from, but those all over the world!