Meles meles 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Scientific Name: Meles meles
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Eurasian Badger, European Badger, Badger
French Blaireau Européen
Spanish Tejón
Meles canescens Blanford, 1875
Taxonomic Notes: Previously the genus Meles was considered as monotypic. According to recent morphological and genetic studies the genus has been split into three different species: M. meles, M. leucurus and M. anakuma (Abramov 2002, 2003, Abramov and Puzachenko 2005; see also Wilson and Reeder 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Kranz, A., Tikhonov, A., Conroy, J., Cavallini, P., Herrero, J., Stubbe, M., Maran, T., Fernandes, M., Abramov, A. & Wozencraft, C.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, relatively large population, it occurs in a number of protected areas, and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: According to Wozencraft (2005) this species is found in “Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China (Xinjiang), Crete, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia (eastward up to Volga River), Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Ukraine.” It occurs from sea level to 3,300 m in Pamir Mountains, up to 2,500 m in the Caucsasus (Abramov pers. comm.).

The boundary between the distribution ranges of the European M. meles and Asian badger M. leucurus is the Volga River (up to the Middle Volga). M. meles is distributed west of the Volga River, M. leucurus is distributed from the Volga River to the east. The European badger M. meles was found in the Nizhnii Novgorod Province (on both sides of Volga River). M. meles is distributed in the west and north districts of Kirov Province, the east and south of Kirov Province are inhabited by M. leucurus. The sympatric zone between these species is the country between the Volga and Kama rivers (Abramov et al. 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Austria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Upper elevation limit (metres): 3300
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The species is common in European Russia. 30,000 individuals were recorded in Russia in 1990 (Abramov pers. comm.). Densities of this species have increased in Europe during recent decades (Holmala and Kauhala 2006). The population density of this species in Finland, near the northern limit of its distribution, is low, at about 2 to 2.5 individuals per 10 km² (Kauhala in litt. 2006).

The species is abundant throughout its range. In central Europe the population is increasing due to the reduction of rabies. In western Ukraine the population has increased. In the United Kingdom (1980s-1990s) there was a 77% increase in the total population size. There are large differences in population densities across its range.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It prefers deciduous woods with clearings, or open pastureland with small patches of woodland. It is also found in mixed and coniferous woodland, scrub, suburban areas and urban parks. It is an opportunistic forager with an omnivorous diet, including fruit, nuts, bulbs, tubers, acorns, and cereal crops. It also consumes a variety of invertebrates (especially earthworms), wasp and bee nests, birds' eggs, carrion, and live vertebrate prey such as hedgehogs, moles, and rabbits. In the northern parts of its range the species hibernates during the winter months. The home ranges of this species in Finland are very large, with a mean of about 15 km² (Kauhala et al. 2006), and their social system is peculiar, with large overlapping home ranges without any communal den (Kauhala in litt. 2006). In Finland, it does not reproduce every year, and the litter size is small (Kauhala et al. 2006).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its decline in some agricultural areas has been attributed to land-use changes causing a loss of suitable habitat (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999). It is sometimes persecuted as a pest. In central Europe the population was formerly severely reduced by rabies, but that threat has now decreased with rabies controls. In the United Kingdom the species is associated with bovine TB, which is used as an excuse to eradicate the species (there is no evidence of this). During hunting for foxes or raccoons the badger is often killed as bycatch. In the Russian Federation the species is sometimes hunted for its meat and fat which is used as a medicine. The species is sensitive to habitat fragmentation and the size of the remaining patch is important for the continued survival of the species. In Germany, the species is hunted annually. It is possible that the introduced raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) competes with badgers, and a project in Finland is looking into this possible threat, initiated by the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, started this 2006 and continuing for about 4 years (Kauhala in litt. 2006). Badgers are heavily hunted in Finland, the annual harvest has increased in recent years, being about 10,000 badgers now (Kauhala in litt. 2006). The hunting season in Finland is the whole year, with the exception of females with young being protected in May, June, and July (Kauhala in litt. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention (Mitchell-Jones et al. 1999). It is also listed on Schedule 6 of the United Kingdom Wildlife and Countryside Act and listed under the Protection of Badgers Act. In Albania it is considered Endangered. The species is found in many protected areas.

Citation: Kranz, A., Tikhonov, A., Conroy, J., Cavallini, P., Herrero, J., Stubbe, M., Maran, T., Fernandes, M., Abramov, A. & Wozencraft, C. 2008. Meles meles. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T29673A9521746. . Downloaded on 29 June 2016.
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