Taxidea taxus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Taxidea taxus (Schreber, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English American Badger
Ursus taxus Schreber, 1777
Taxonomic Notes: Four subspecies have been recognized based on differences in skull size and pelage colour (Long 1972): Taxidea taxus berlandieri, in the southern United States; T. t. jacksoni, in the north-central United States and southern Ontario in Canada; T. t. taxus, in the Great Plains ecosystem from the United States into the prairie provinces of Canada; and T. t. jeffersonii, in the western United States and southern British Columbia.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-03-01
Assessor(s): Helgen, K. & Reid, F.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W.
This species is listed as Least Concern because it has large range over much of which it is relatively common. Probably it has declined substantially in areas converted from grassland to intensive agriculture and where colonial rodents such as prairie-dogs and ground squirrels have been reduced or eliminated. Also some die by collisions with vehicles and by direct persecution. Overall declines are not at a rate sufficient to qualify for even the Near Threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species is distributed from southern Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and southern Ontario), over most of the northern, western and central United States, and south to Puebla and Baja California, Mexico (Wozencraft 1993, Long 1999).
Countries occurrence:
Canada; Mexico; United States
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Large range in the western and central U.S.A., southern Canada, and northern and central Mexico; relatively common over much of this range, but probably has declined substantially in areas converted from grassland to intensive agriculture and where colonial rodents such as prairie-dogs Cynomys and ground squirrels Spermophilus are reduced or eliminated. Also potentially threatened by collisions with vehicles and by direct persecution. Badger populations have declined throughout its northern range, through declining habitat suitability (Newhouse and Kinley 2012).

The U.S. population was roughly estimated at several hundred thousand and the Canadian has ane ven lower estimate (Newhouse and Kinley 2012). The Canadian population, according to a 1998 questionnaire, was estimated at 13,700-28,900 in Saskatchewan province and 3,000-5,000 in Manitoba province, providing an estimated Canadian Prairie population of 17,700-43,900 animals (Scobie 2002). There are no estimates for the Mexican population. In areas of abundance, can reach densities of 3-5/km² (Long 1999). In Canada, both T. t. jacksoni in Ontario and T. t. jeffersonii in British Columbia are recognised as endangered, with as few as 200 and 600 animals remaining, respectively (Kyle et al. 2004).

Badgers can occur at densities up to 6 individuals/km² (Messick and Hornocker 1981). Density averages 1 per sq mile in prime open country (Long 1973). In south-eastern Wyoming, density was 0.8-1.1 per km² (Goodrich and Buskirk 1998).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Prefers open areas and may also frequent brushlands with little ground cover. When inactive, occupies underground burrow. Occurs from below sea level to 3,600 m (Kyle et al. 2004), usually in relative dry grasslands and open forests (Rahme et al. 1995). May be active at any hour but is mainly nocturnal.

Most food is obtained by excavating the burrows of fossorial rodents. Ground squirrels are often major item in diet, as are pocket gophers, kangaroo rats, priairie-dogs, and mice; also eats scorpions, insects, snakes, lizards, and birds, especially when ground squirrel population is low (Messick and Hornocker 1981).

Its movements are restricted, especially in winter, and it shows a strong attachment to a home area. Estimated home ranges vary from 2 to 725 ha, changing seasonally (Sargeant and Warner 1972). It is active all year, but it may sleep in its den for several days or weeks during severe winter weather (Nowak 2005).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: For information on use and trade, see under Threats.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Changing land use, resulting from agriculture, urban development, and forest ingrowth, appears to be a major factor negatively affecting American Badger. Declines may also be related to the persecution of its primary prey, prairie-dogs and ground squirrels (Apps et al. 2002). Finley et al. (1976) speculated that some Colorado populations may have declined because of the elimination of prairie-dogs. Roadkills and habitat loss are the main threats in British Columbia (Newhouse and Kinley 2012). Trapping for pelts has in the past affected populations, mainly in response to high fur prices, but has not had a significant influence on populations in recent years. Badgers are also trapped, shot and poisoned because their diggings are thought to cause broken legs in livestock, lead to water loss from irrigation canals, and cause damage to vehicles encountering their burrows (Scobie 2002).

Although clearing of forests for agricultural land has probably resulted in some range expansion, cultivation of grassland has undoubtedly caused declines (Soper 1964, Stardom 1979, Lindzey 1982, Smith 1992). Likewise, intensification of agriculture is likely to cause declines in the future.

Much mortality is caused by vehicles or deliberate killing by people (Stardom 1979, Messick et al. 1981, Newhouse and Kinley 2012, Apps et al. 2002). Badgers may actually be attracted to roads, both because ground squirrels often burrow alongside them (Ketcheson and Bauer 1995), and because they are good travel routes (Warner and Ver Steeg 1995).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Canada, American Badger was designated as 'Not At Risk', whilst the two subspecies T. t. jeffersonii (British Columbia) and T. t. jacksoni (Ontario) were designated as 'Endangered' (COSEWIC 2000) with as few as 100 and 200 animals remaining, respectively (Newhouse and Kinley 2012).

Citation: Helgen, K. & Reid, F. 2016. Taxidea taxus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41663A45215410. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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