Endangered Species in Focus: American Badger (Taxidea taxus)

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Description:

These nighttime loving carnivores are short and stocky with distinctive black and white markings on their face.  The American Badger is relative of the weasel family and is the only type of badger that lives in North America. Large males weigh up to 26 lbs.

Badgers are built for digging. Their dens can be up to 3 metres underground and contain up to 10 metres of tunnels, with a large chamber for sleeping. Badgers have long strong claws and a streamlined skull enabling them to create these dens and dig prey out of burrows, such as groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and mice.

Solitary for most of the year, adult males and females only get together to mate in late summer, when females are in peak condition and are most fertile.

 

Status:

  • Endangered Provincially and Nationally

 

Important Dates:

June 30, 2008: Species listed as endangered

Feb. 18, 2010: Species granted habitat protection

 

Range:

  • Ranges from California and Texas to the Great Lakes region. In Canada, the badger is found in southern British Columbia, all the prairie provinces and Ontario;
  • In Ontario, the badger is found primarily in the southwestern part of the province, close to Lake Erie. There are thought to be fewer than 200 in Ontario;
  • They have very large territories for their size; some badger families can range over several thousand acres to find enough food.

 

Habitat:

  • Found in a variety of habitats, such as tall grass prairies, sand barrens and farmland;
  • Since badgers are primarily nocturnal and quite wary of people, not many people are fortunate enough to spot one in the wild. They are often on the move and will usually only stay in one area for a few nights before moving on;
  • Badgers need habitats with deep top soils. This makes it easier for them to burrow and make dens.

 

Threats:

  • They have few natural enemies in Ontarion (possibly coyotes), and the main threats are habitat loss and susceptibility to being hit by cars;
  • Populations used to be as big as 20,000 individuals in some areas; however, badgers are losing their homes rapidly as land is cleared for farms and houses

 

What You Can Do to Help:

  • Badgers depend on healthy grassland habitat such as tallgrass prairie. Unfortunately, tallgrass prairie is increasingly rare throughout the province. Visit Tallgrass Ontario’s website here to learn more;
  • At EarthRangers.com you can start a fundraising campaign that will support environmental education and conservation efforts to help – this project will support the installation of signs along trails around Lake Erie, which will raise awareness to the American Badger;
  • If you find a badger den on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats;
  • Visit the following links to learn more about the American Badger:

o   American Badger Ontario Recovery Strategy Series

o   Species at Risk Public Registry

o   IUCN Red List

o   Animal Diversity: University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

 

FUN FACTS:

  • Badgers have a second eyelid which can be closed to protect their eyes from dirt. This eyelid is called the “nictitating membrane”
  • If cornered, the American badger will growl, squeal, and show their teeth. When threatened, badgers release a foul smelling musk to drive off enemies;
  • The den of the badger only has one entrance. That way, if the animal feels threatened, it will back into the den;
  • Badgers are mainly nocturnal, but seldom can be seen in the day;

Protecting Ontario’s Endangered Species – What Can YOU Do to Help?

Protecting Ontario’s Endangered Species – What Can YOU Do to Help?

In honour of Endangered Species Day on May 16, 2014 (established in 2006), Ingersoll District Nature Club will take a moment to highlight the endangered species in Oxford County, and inform you on how you can participate in their protection.

You may have noticed our ‘Endangered Species in Focus’ column under the News & Updates ; this is where we focus on a particular endangered species each week and provide you with facts on that specific species.

Below is a list of 30 (thirty) Endangered Species, Threatened Species and Species of Special Concern in OXFORD COUNTY:

ENDANGERED & THREATENED SPECIES OF OXFORD COUNTY

SPECIES STATUS SPECIES STATUS

BIRDS

Acadian Flycatcher ENDANGERED Eastern Meadowlark THREATENED
Barn Swallow THREATENED King Rail ENDANGERED
Bobolink THREATENED Least Bittern THREATENED
Cerulean Warbler THREATENED Loggerhead Shrike ENDANGERED
Chimney Swift THREATENED Yellow-Breasted Chat ENDANGERED

FISH

Black Redhorse THREATENED Northern Brook Lamprey SPECIAL CONCERN
Silver Shiner THREATENED  

INSECTS

Laura’s Clubtail ENDANGERED Rapids Clubtail ENDANGERED
Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee ENDANGERED  

MAMMALS

American Badger ENDANGERED  

MUSSELS

Round Pigtoe ENDANGERED Wavy-Rayed Lampmussel THREATENED

PLANTS

American Chestnut ENDANGERED Green Dragon SPECIAL CONCERN
American Columbo ENDANGERED Large Whorled Pogonia ENDANGERED
Eastern Flowering Dogwood ENDANGERED  

SNAKES

Eastern Ribbon Snake SPECIAL CONCERN Milksnake SPECIAL CONCERN

TURTLES

Blanding’s Turtle THREATENED Snapping Turtle SPECIAL CONCERN
Northern Map Turtle SPECIAL CONCERN Spiny Softshell Turtle THREATENED

– Be sure to check back weekly for further elaboration on the species indicated above

 

What is an Endangered Species?

  • A species at risk of extinction because of human activity, changes in climate, changes in predator-prey ratios, etc., especially when officially designated as such by a governmental agency.

What is a Threatened Species?

  • A species at risk of becoming endangered in the near future. A threatened species may have a declining population or be exceptionally rare.

What is a Species of Special Concern?

  • A species that may become a threatened or endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

 

WHY SHOULD WE PROTECT ENDANGERED SPECIES??

  • Plants and animals hold medicinal, agricultural, ecological, commercial and aesthetic/recreational value. Our quality of life and that of future generations depends on our preservation of plant and animal species;
  • As species are lost, so are the options for future discovery and advancement;
  • More than 20 million Canadians spend billions of dollars a year to practice “nature” activities such as mountain hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, photography, bird watching and visits to zoos or nature centres.

 

Did You Know?

  • We live in a province with over 30,000 species of plants  and animals, but more than 200 of those species are in trouble;
  • Approximately 3079 animals and 2655 plants are endangered worldwide
  • Of the 150 medicines most frequently prescribed, about 100 are derived from plants – more than 3 million heart disease sufferers would perish within 72 hours of a heart attack without digitalis, a drug from the plant called purple foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea);
  • Millions of birds die every year because of collisions with windows. You can help by simply by placing window decals on your windows.

 

What Can YOU Do?

1) Learn about endangered species in your area

  • Teach your friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you. The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are!
  • The will to protect animals and nature in general demonstrates the value of society – Click the links in the above chart to start your discovery on the endangered species of Oxford County!

2) Visit, Become a Member, Participate or Volunteer at your local Conservation Area or Nature Space

  • These protected lands provide habitat to many native wildlife, birds, fish and plants;
  • Visit the Ministry of Natural Resources Webpage and learn more about the Stewardship Youth Ranger Program here
  • The members of Ingersoll District Nature Club are the formal stewards of the Lawson Nature Reserve  Ingersoll, Ontario – find directions here
  • Plan a ‘Nature Day in Oxford County’ and visit one of the many sites listed here

3) Contact the Ministry of Natural Resources when you encounter an endangered species

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) provides an online form here to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specifics (ie. location, coordinates, viewing patterns, etc.) provide helpful assistance;
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. The will to protect animals and nature in general demonstrates the value of society

4) Start at Home

  • Reduce the use of water in your home and garden so that animals living in or near water can have a better chance of survival;
  • Use energy saving lights and appliances. Recycle – Keep trash out of the environment;
  • Use fewer pesticides and herbicides that are harmful to endangered species. Be a smart consumer – don’t buy illegal products that harm endangered species;
  • Plant native vegetation for wildlife habitat. This helps keep invasive species out;
  • If you have friends that live on farms, encourage them to keep patches of bush as wildlife habitats and to leave old trees standing, especially those with hollows suitable for nesting animals