The Elusive American Badger

Jul 5, 2016

The honey badger may be an internet sensation, but Iowa is home to an equally tenacious species of badger. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with wildlife biologist Jim Pease about the American Badger. 

Although badgers are rarely seen in Iowa, they do live here. Due to their independent nature it is hard to know exactly how many badgers are in state, but quite a bit is known about their lives in the Midwest.

“It’s a member of the weasel family, the Mustelids," says Pease. "That includes the mink, the otter, wolverine, the fishers, badgers. It is a family, all of whom...have some glands near their anal opening that they fill with musk, and it includes otters as well. They use this musk primarily to mark their territories but it can be sort of used in defense."

Badgers are difficult to spot, as they often live in long-grass prairies and are good at hiding. They burrow to get their food - ground squirrels, pocket gophers, and woodchucks. Badgers are usually out during the day, but around humans they become nocturnal.

“They live where there are more grasslands then there are trees. That means primarily sort of the Western, I would say, two thirds of the state, especially the western third. They’re most numerous in the Southern portion,” says Pease.

Badgers can also live on some farms, especially if the farm includes a lot of grassland area. As more and more of Iowa gets developed, badgers' habitats are becoming smaller.

The animal's main predators in Iowa are humans, as they are hunted for their fur and often hit by cars. There are few to no natural predators that live in Iowa, as badgers are ferocious creatures that make them difficult to prey on.