American Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Size: 

2-3 feet. 24-30 pounds 

Signs of their presence: 

The animal itself 

Sounds: A badger can make up to 16 different noises. Mainly one may here growls, hiss, chirps, and clucks 

Odor: Badgers release a musky odor similar to the skunk 

Scat: often found in shallow pits, they use as latrines, they are firm and around the size of a sausage. Depending on their diet, sometimes it can be darker and slimier if more earthworms have been consumed 

Diet: 

Opportunists. They mainly will eat ground-nesting birds and the eggs, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, worms, and insects. They often eat small rodents such as prairie dogs, pocket gophers, and ground squirrels.  

Typical activity patterns: 

Social Style: solitary 

Daily activity: Nocturnal. Badgers will usually stay in their burrows during the day 

Hibernator? No 

Migrates? No 

Where found: 

In California badgers can be found throughout the state in areas that have open grassland or agricultural areas.  

Habitat: 

Open grasslands or meadows on the edge of woodlands.  

Territory and home range: 

Badgers are territorial and will charge intruders that enter their territory. Males home ranges are around 2.5 square miles 

Breeding habits: 

Pair bonding style: Male badgers are polygamous 

Breeding dates: August through September. Gestation is around 250 days 

Litter size: 2-3 young of average. Sometimes up to 5 young 

Birthing period: late winter, February 

Weaning dates: 5-6 weeks 

Amount of time young remain with parents beyond weaning date: young will remain with the mother until around midsummer 

Common nuisance situations: 

Time of year: any time of year excluding winter 

What are they doing? 

Digging in lawns, pastures, crop fields, gold courses, gardens, or flower beds for worms 

Badgers will sometimes kill live-stock 

Get into poultry houses by digging under the fence or digging through the floor 

They may dig on the side of roads and paths causing them to erode or cave in 

Legal status in California: 

Protected. Badgers are a species of special concern. Report any badger sightings to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.  

Best practices 

Protect Livestock and Poultry: 

Bury fencing 12 to 18 inches deep around areas livestock or poultry are kept in at night 

Repair any holes that are in barns or poultry houses 

Close and tightly fasten the doors to poultry houses 

If constructing a new poultry house use thicker lumber 

Bring livestock into a protected area when they are ready to have their young 

Install an electric fence close to the ground where badgers will try and die through 

Keep pastures mowed to a controllable length  

Remove food sources: 

Pick up fallen fruit that attract worms and grubs 

Exclude mice or other small rodents around the house as badgers will eat them 

Fence off gardens, burying the fencing 12-18 inches deep 

If badgers are digging in a peculiar area, cover it with chicken wire. Badgers do not like the feeling of digging through chicken wire 

If you have a fence around the yard, bury the fence 12-18 inches deep to prevent them from entering the yard.  

Trapping strategies: 

Live Capture: 

Set a large cage trap near areas badgers frequent. Bait the trap with meat or a freshly killed squirrel, chicken, or whatever they have been killing 

Set the trap at dusk or a little bit before then  

Foothold traps 

Be careful not to set the stake to shallow, badgers have been known to dig around the stake to where it is loose enough to pull it out and drag it away. Instead set the stake very deep or use a strong limb or heavy object that they cannot get into their den 

Preferred killing methods: 

Shooting, using a shotgun or rifle. Aim for the head if rabies testing is not required 

CO2 chamber (if caught in a cage trap, simply place the trap in the chamber. If caught directly, using a catchpole, for example, stun the badger, then transfer it into the chamber) 

Acceptable killing methods: 

Stunning and chest compression  

Control strategies that don’t work particularly well or aren’t legal in California: 

Noisemakers, such as propane cannons, radios, and tape recordings, may convince the badgers to move a den. However, they are not generally effective in preventing livestock depredation. Badgers are also territorial so they may just move a few hundred yards from the noisemakers. 

The same holds true for flashing lights such as strobe lights or beacons. They’re most effective in an enclosure or small area, when used intermittently with other techniques. 

Collect dog hair and spread it around the perimeter of the vulnerable area 

Using guard dogs may work in some cases. However, badgers are very territorial and put up a big fight. This could lead to the dog being seriously injured even if they win the fight 

For information on pesticides follow the link, https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/