Over the past several years numerous sightings of American badgers and their burrows have been documented in the 100 Mile House Forest District of the Cariboo region. Site inspections of occupied burrows has revealed that badgers in the Cariboo behave quite differently than do badgers elsewhere in the province. Specifically, badgers in the Cariboo do not prey extensively on ground squirrels and suitable denning/burrowing habitat appears to be very limited.
To better determine the population of badgers in this region, a project was started in 2003 to document the distribution and relative abundance of badgers in the Cariboo, determine prey base, and describe and seek protection of suitable denning/burrowing habitat.
Cariboo Badger Project
The Cariboo Region Badger Project was initiated in 2003 to determine the distribution and abundance of badgers at the northern periphery of their range to support recovery activity for the species. To date, we have identified 736 burrow locations and recorded 101 observations of animals reported by the public.
In 2006, we collected 188 shed and snagged hair samples from 67 burrow locations and 4 tissue samples from road killed badgers. We assigned 108 samples to individual badgers using DNA fingerprinting. We have identified a total of 51 badgers (23 females, 28 males) in the Cariboo region, including 2 litters (5 kits in 2005, and 4 kits in 2006). The estimated badger population (Jolly-Seber model) in the study area was 24.5 badgers (95% CI = 18.3 – 34.1) in 2004, and 32.3 badgers (95% CI = 26.6 – 44.5) in 2005. The minimum number of badgers alive in the population in 2006 is 26. We estimated areas used by individual badgers to be as small as 0.3 km2 and as large as 1280 km2. Nine badgers have died since 2003, and at least 8 of these were confirmed roadkills.
Recovery activities to date include the proposal of 11 WHAs for designation under the Forest and Range Practices Act, treatment of WHAs and First Nations reserve lands to reduce forest encroachment/ingrowth, development of best management practices to maintain/improve habitat, and posting 5 badger road crossing signs on Highway 97 to warn motorists of high potential roadkill areas. Research from 2007 – 2010 focused on the hazards of roads for badgers with financial support from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and the B.C. Conservations Corps.