Showing posts with label badgers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label badgers. Show all posts

November 28, 2019

What Would a Mountain Lion Eat for Thanksgiving?

A wintry view of the riparian area in or near Santa Ana Pueblo,
photographed from Amtrak's Southwest Chief on November 20th.
Brokenleg (Pueblo of Santa Ana DNR)
Deer, you say? That might be a good answer, insofar as a common formula is that an adult must eat a deer-size animal every week to ten days. But down on the Rio Grande north of Albuquerque, researchers at the Pueblo of Santa Ana Department of Natural Resources collared and tracked one male who specialized in badgers.

And here I thought badgers were difficult game for any predator, given their ferocity and ability to dig in.

The lion they called Brokenleg (because of a visible old fractured that had healed and calcified) was monitored for 15 months. Here is what he killed for food:

He was no cripple, as you can see: he took down 17 elk as well.
Brokenleg was one of six lions that the pueblo's Department of Natural Resources collared and tracked. On their Facebook page, they wrote,
We recently posted a graph of Brokenleg's kills that generated a lot of great questions and responses. This graph might do the same and is intended to show the varied diet of 5 lions (3 males and 2 females) that we GPS-collared and followed over variable time spans. The 3 males (months collared in parenthesis) are Big Tom (6), Brokenleg (17), and Lefty (15). The 2 females are Notch (12) and Little Girl (16). We documented 155 kills across 20 species, which are color-coded for individual lions. While Brokenleg's dataset is mostly complete, there are gaps in the other lion datasets because we did not have permission to enter onto some lands to verify kills. Despite not having a complete dataset for all lion kills, the graph clearly illustrates the varied diet of the 5 individual lions. Furthermore, we believe that Big Tom and Notch probably killed at least 15 more feral horses based on kill locations and amount of time at kill site, but because we didn't have permission to verify the kills, we can't confirm this. This is an ongoing project, so we expect we will add some species to the list in the future. (October 14, 2019)
The pueblo controls 73,000 acres, and I have always been told that a lion in the Rockies hunts  territory of 70–100 square miles (640 ac. per square mile). But since mountain lions do not care about human boundaries, obviously a number of them hunt partly on and partly off the pueblo lands. And it is risky to be a badger, a coyote, or a feral horse along the Rio Grande.

November 12, 2016

A Lethal Combination

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center
in northern Colorado. Kimberly Fraser, USFWS
A US Fish and Wildlife Service staffer got a series of pictures of a coyote and a badger hunting together, which are published on the USFWS Open Spaces blog.
Each partner in this unlikely duo brings a skill the other one lacks. Together they are both faster and better diggers than the burrowing rodents they hunt.

These partnerships tend to emerge during the warmer months. In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow. It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.
Meanwhile, here in southern Colorado, I was talking this afternoon with a Colorado Parks and Wildlife employee who lives on the prairie west of Pueblo.

She said that she had seen from her house a coyote, a badger, and a harrier (hawk) apparently working together.

Domestic falconers team hawks with dogs, so why not in the wild? Probably that is where the idea came from. 

July 29, 2016

Escape from Stalag-Dachs 17!


Over at the rehabilitation center, Gus the badger has been working on his tunneling technique. He started with the boulder visible on the left. The swift fox that was released last April had a small den underneath it — Gus spent a couple of months enlarging that sett (den), adding more entrances, and even dragging in a small log — a roof prop?

But then his ambition grew: it was time to tunnel for freedom!

His enclosure is made from chain-link fence, and the mesh comes in horizontally for about thirty inches on each side to deter digging. Hah! Gus located the edge (you can see it behind his head), and dug under it until he reached the outer wall. Then he kept digging.

The rehabbers are philosophical about his escapes. The exit is in a meadow, and they figure that digging a tunnel is part of the rehab process.

Gus still comes back for meals — frozen rats, etc. But he is developing an adult personality, a more aggressive one. Grown-up badgers are the opposite of cuddly.

The only question seems to be whether he will be somehow caught and relocated to a good release site, or whether he will release himself.

UPDATE: Around the 10th of August, Gus started leaving some of his frozen mice uneaten. Evidently he was feeding himself. By the 16th, he had been missing from his enclosure for several days and was presumed to be living on his own.

"So long, and thanks for all the mice." (Classical reference.)