Backyard Badgers – Good or Bad?
With an abundance of ground squirrels comes the predators that eat them, and in our area this means badgers. Last year there was a prolific number of these tough and tenacious creatures in the fields surrounding us, and this year looks to be about the same, if not more. And we weren’t the only ones experiencing badgers in the neighborhood. A friend who traps animals professionally (when they are causing an issue) had to remove some from the local middle school. While I think a badger on the track would inspire speed and motivation from the kids during phys ed, the administration didn’t feel the same.
Badgers in the Backyard
We are fortunate that the neighbors who own the fields aren’t eliminating all of the ground squirrels, which they can do with a variety of means, including poison, because the badgers would leave, or possibly look for other sources of food, including the 50+ so cats at one nearby house. They grow alfalfa in these areas and graze their cattle, and I know it’s a major obstacle dealing with either because of the enormous holes, but they’re patient about the whole situation. (These things tend to cycle on their own many times.)
So for our neighborhood, the badgers have not been an issue because they have the ground squirrel buffet outside of the burrows, but there is one neighbor with a hole an enormous hole a little close to home. When he mentioned having what he thought was a badger den in the backyard, we had to take a look. Sure enough, at the size hole where you could throw a basketball down it, that was no ground squirrel excavation! We asked if we could put up the game cameras to see who was using it since the possibility of it being a red fox was tossed around, too.
What We Saw on the Badger Cam
After having the camera out for one night, the boys picked it up the next day and ran back to plug in the SD card. It was like Christmas morning with the anticipation of what we might find! It was a cat. No kidding. The same cat came back to the area, even going down into the hole a short ways, throughout the night. We knew the badger was not home that evening, or the cat would not show up on the camera a second time!
So we set up the camera for a few more nights. Bingo! During the first night, we spotted the badger going to and from the hole, and it was particularly interesting to see it scoot underneath the fence and head out to the field to hunt and come back. It dug a little bit, too, which we noticed about the hole when we picked up the camera. What we were happy to see was that it really showed no interest on what was on the inside of the fence in the yard.
The only concern was that it might harm the dog in a nose to nose confrontation, but it showed absolutely no interest, and in reality, despite their fierce reputation, badgers aren’t spoiling for a fight. They do want they do, and as long as you’re not directly harassing them (which would have to be on purpose since they are primarily nocturnal animals), they’re not going to come after you.
The Benefit of Badgers
Badgers in the area are no cause for alarm. As a matter of fact, they can help the pest situation by reducing the ground squirrel numbers, which do far more damage than any predator. (Thinking of it, I wish we would have had a family of badgers at one of the community gardens years ago because we could not keep on top of the ground squirrels that were wiping out new plants on a daily basis.) Just sit back and let the badgers do what they do best, even in your backyard.