Badgers are medium sized mammals which have broad heads, short strong legs and a bushy tail. Their front claws are long, designed for digging and they have a black patch on each cheek. There is a white line which runs over the top of their head which extends from its nose. Badgers average around 20 pounds but can exceed weights of 30 pounds if local food supplies allow for good growth. On average, males are larger than females.
Badgers are found throughout much of the central and western states. Most every state west of the Mississippi has badgers; the open country of the plains states is where they prefer and seldom do populations exist where there are heavy forests. Badgers will readily live along coastal waterways and exist at altitudes in excess of three miles.
Badgers are members of the weasel family and have the characteristic “musky” odor associated with these animals. Either females or males will dig burrows but the females den will always be longer and deeper. This insures a protective environment for growing young. Badgers breed during the summer and fall but implantation of embryos are delayed; gestation begins around February and young are born in early spring. Litters average 3-5 animals. Offspring may begin to reproduce in their first year of life if born early but most will not until their second year. Badgers live an average of 6-9 years but it is not uncommon for them to live over 12 years in the wild.
Badgers are carnivores. They will readily feed on ground nesting animals, their young, reptiles, amphibians or vegetables if meat is not readily available. Badgers have a keen sense of smell and will tract down any small ground living animal. Once the animals nesting burrows are found, the hunting badger will dig and dig until it gets it’s dinner. Badgers will thrive on gophers, chipmunks, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chickens, turkey, young lambs, domestic dogs and cats and just about any small animal it can find. Badgers are mostly nocturnal and will cover vast areas in search of food. Though the average population of badgers may only be 1-2 per square mile, terrain with enough food can support 10-20 badgers without conflict. Badgers do not hibernate. Though they may go “dormant” for several weeks at a time, many of the animals they like to eat are active during winter. These animals provide a ready supply of food available year round; gophers, rats and other animals which are active even in snow provide nutrition during the coldest of winters.
Though referred to as the “farmers friend”, badgers present more problems than remedies for farmers. The fact that they live on small animals has lead to a great many “urban legends”. The most common is that a badger feeding on rodents on your property will keep their numbers in check. This is not accurate. In fact, there is no documentation to support this belief. It has been noted, however, that badger activity is only present where there are large populations of small mammals. Generally, these populations have gotten too large which has led to the badgers finding them in the first place. In fact, small tolerable populations of those same small rodents might never get the attention of most opportunistic badgers. Since badgers need to eat often, they tend to follow a trail which leads them to populations which are high and dense.
Badgers won’t waste their time where food is scarce or where their hunting will deplete local numbers. Generally, badgers like to live where local food supplies are high enough to keep them well fed indefinitely. Such areas tend to provide easier access to food, quicker results and better breeding grounds. This is the same reason why most areas with a lot of badger activity will have to address the food supply as well as the badger activity. This may include controlling gophers, chipmunks, ground squirrels or rats. We have in depth information on how to control all these animals and you can access these articles by going back to our on line article archive and reading through the posted material.
BADGER CONTROL OPTIONS
In general, once you have badgers you have two choices. First, you can deal only with the current badger which is causing the damage. This approach is easy. Once you have removed the badger you will simply have to wait until another one comes around and follows the same destructive path of behavior as the first one. At such time you will have to then address this second badger. Once you remove that animal, it will be just a matter of time before another comes around and so on.
The second course of action you can follow is to deal first with the active badger but to then address the reason why it is there in the first place. If the badger is attracted to large populations of gophers on your property, implementing a gopher control program will help prevent future badgers from coming around. If the badger was attracted to your property because of chipmunks, reducing their numbers will allow you to keep badgers from coming back. This pro active approach which addresses the food supply of the badger will prove to be more effective for obtaining long term control. Since badgers may be coming around for animals which are being raised like chickens, turkeys or other young farm animals, you may not be able to do much in the way of taking away the lure which attracts badgers. In general, the opportunistic character of badgers attracts them to farms and ranches where they can easily access chicken coops and other farm animal living quarters. Once inside they will be able to have their pick of dinner. Farmers which have large populations of badger food may not even notice the first few missing animals they kill. However, there are some telltale signs that will let you know you have a badger and not some other nighttime feeder.
BADGERS PREY ON LIVESTOCK
Badgers will kill more than they can eat in a day and then bury the leftovers. Most nocturnal predators will get their meal and leave. Badgers will get greedy and kill off more than they can handle. If you find this happening, it is more likely a badger which is feeding on your livestock. Because of this behavior, badgers which have access to your livestock can cause a lot of damage rapidly.
Conversely, badgers which are digging up gopher mounds or chipmunk burrows may be mistaken for raccoon, fishers, skunk or some other animal. However, badgers will be the most persistent and the most damaging. Badgers are built to dig. Their strong fore legs and sharp claws are able to get them as deep as they need to go to reach their target. Once food is found, rarely will the badger leave until it gets dinner. This persistence leads to deep holes with a lot of dirt being displaced. Gopher holes can be a nuisance to farm animals like horses and cattle; badger diggings can be even more dangerous. In the yard, a badger can change your entire landscape in one night! If you have a badger active in your yard or feeding on some of your farm animals, you will need to trap it out. You have two types of traps which are very effective.
BADGER TRAPPING WITH LIVE TRAPS
Live traps are one of the most common ways to catch a badger. Our LT111230 is easy to set and usually large enough. For extra sized badgers, get the LT111236. Since badgers will return nightly to turf which has provided a meal so as soon as you find a fresh digging or a pen which has been dug into, place the trap as close to the activity as you can.
For trap lure, use either SALMON PASTE or GRUB GEL. If the activity is close to water, like a pond or stream, the Salmon paste will be the way to go. But if they’re digging in your yard for grubs, use the Grub Gel. Put a teaspoonful on the trip pan and smear it around. Next, place some just inside the trap and then some more outside on the ground. Expect to catch the culprit in a day or two.
Another trap that works well is the LT11236BD. Known as the “bottom door” trap, this design is made for placing directly over entrance/exit holes for animals like woodchucks, marmot, gophers and badgers. So if you know where the den is located, this trap could be the easiest way to go.
BADGER CONTROL WITH LEGHOLD TRAPS
The more traditional trap to use for badgers are leghold traps. These are available in two styles. The BRIDGER #4 LEG HOLD design has been used since the beginning of the furrier age. More recently, the COIL #3 or the COIL #5 trap have become just as popular. Either trap will work well for trapping a badger by the leg. Using these traps for beaver, coyote and other animals requires staking the trap to insure the animal can’t get away but when trapping badgers, you will need to do something else. Because badgers are such strong and determined diggers, staking won’t work. Badgers will readily dislodge any stake unless you are able to secure the trap to a tree or some other immobile object. Since trap sets for badgers are many times in terrains which don’t have trees, the use of an anchor works well. Secure the trap to a large log, a cinder block or other heavy inanimate object. Make your set where they have been recently digging and place some fresh chicken down the burrow. Badgers will readily return to a burrow they just dug out – even if they caught something – because they know many small animals will quickly occupy vacated dens. The smell of fresh chicken will get the badger to dig again and a properly set leghold trap will catch him.
Long Spring #4: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/long-spring/long-spring-4
Coil Trap #3: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/coil/coil-3
Coil Trap #5: http://www.bugspraycart.com/traps/coil/coil-5
Once trapped with either a live trap or a leghold trap you will have to relocate or destroy the animal. Since they are so strong, it is best if you handle the animal with a CATCH POLE. These are devices which enable the handler to get control of an animal when you want to move it around safely. They fit around the animals neck and are needed when dealing with most wild animals – particularly animals as strong as badgers!!! Since badgers cover vast areas and have a good sense of direction be sure to relocate them at least 20 miles away if you intend on releasing trapped animals. Upon the successful trapping of nuisance badgers you will have to choose to reduce small animal populations to prevent future badgers from coming around or continuously trap if food attractant reduction is not an option.
There are two devices that can be used to repel badgers foraging or digging in your yard. One uses water and the other is based on sound.
BADGER WATER SPRAYER
Badgers are skittish and afraid of motion. Set out a MOTION ACTIVATED WATER SPRAYER where they’re moving and it will give them a blast of water when they approach. This device has a large range and can cover a lot of area so it’s ideal for badgers that are digging.
BADGER ULTRASOUND REPELLER
Badgers are also sensitive to ultrasound. We have one unit that uses a motion detector to sense nearby activity and it will do the job. For extreme situations, you can set it to work continously. The YARD GUARD will cover a good 4000 sq/ft so most yards and gardens can be protected with just 1-2 units.
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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