Out of a hole in the dirt obscured by grass pokes a black furry snout, followed by the rectangular black and white striped head of an American Badger (Taxidea taxus jeffersonii).
Rare in BC and on both the Red-List and SARA Schedule 1, sightings of these carnivorous mammals are a rare and joyous experience. The Nature Trust of BC was delighted to acquire the Columbia River Wetlands – Edgewater property in July 2019, where multiple badger sightings have occurred. The American Badger Habitat Capability Model (Kinley et al. 2013) identifies that 41% of this property has very high capability to support the American Badger, making this acquisition a chance to save land for badgers. Connected to a larger conservation complex of grasslands, forests and wetlands, the property also acts as a wildlife corridor in the Columbia Valley, helping to secure important habitat linkages for critters like badgers.
With the unexpected help of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), Columbia River Wetlands – Edgewater has become an even safer home for these badgers. The property is bisected by Highway 95, creating a disconnect between the two sides and endangering animals migrating across. According to the American Badger Recovery Strategy (Messick 1987), road mortality on highways is the single leading cause of death for badgers in BC. Recently, MOTI found a solution to prevent badgers from being harmed in such a way on the Columbia River Wetlands – Edgewater property.
“This is a great example of MOTI recognizing an opportunity to help provide safe passage to American Badgers on our newly acquired conservation property. With the danger from road mortality, it’s great that the Province is taking a leadership role in initiatives like this, which can help conserve BC’s badger populations.” – Chris Bosman, Kootenay Conservation Land Manager, The Nature Trust of BC
MOTI was undertaking a road resurfacing project on the highway through Columbia River Wetlands – Edgewater. Duane Wells, the Regional Manager of Environmental Services, Engineering Section, contacted The Nature Trust after seeing a news release on saving land for badgers. Showing incredible proactive thinking, they offered to install two dry culverts as part of the Highway 95 project, linking both sides of the property. The Nature Trust and MOTI staff worked to identify the locations and two 800 mm culverts were installed, located at ground level to give badgers a safe alternative to crossing over the highway.