Have you hugged a fossorial carnivore lately? The answer is likely no, unless you've been burrowing for badgers.
The American badger is one of Canada's most endangered species, with fewer than 200 remaining in Ontario and an estimated 350 in B.C.
These unique carnivores are excellent diggers, feasting primarily on burrowing animals such as chipmunks, squirrels and gophers, and capturing a significant amount of its prey underground.
Sadly, Canada's badgers are listed as endangered — the most imperilled ranking of at-risk species — under Canada's Species at Risk Act.
Sign up for our newsletter
The primary reason the badger is endangered in Canada is loss of its natural habitat to land uses such as subdivisions, farms and orchards.
Another unfortunate strike against badgers is that they are nocturnal, making them especially vulnerable to being hit by cars. In B.C., one study estimated that almost half of badger deaths were on highways or railways.
The badger has also historically been killed by landowners, who feared harm to livestock.
Once a badger reaches maturity, it is at the top of the food chain — there is no other animal that regularly preys on it. Thus its decline in Canada is almost entirely linked to human activities. The good news is that we humans can also help the badger recover.
In British Columbia, after significant outreach efforts, some landowners are now the badger's biggest fans and take pride in stewardship initiatives on their land.
Rural landowners in B.C. and Ontario can help the badger by leaving as much of their land as possible in natural condition, so the badgers have space to hunt, make dens and rear their young.