Species Profile

American Badger taxus subspecies

Scientific Name: Taxidea taxus taxus
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of American Badger taxus subspecies

Description

The American Badger (Taxidea taxus) is a medium-sized fossorial (burrowing) carnivore in the weasel (Mustelidae) family. They are well-adapted to digging, possessing a dorso-ventrally flattened body with a robust pectoral girdle and broad front paws used to excavate burrows and dig out prey. Four subspecies of American Badger are recognized, three of which occur in Canada. Mitochondrial DNA work found multiple distinct genetic groups in Canada. Four designatable units are recommended (Jeffersonii East and West, Taxus, and Jacksoni), each corresponding with the existing subspecies distribution of T. t. taxus and jacksoni, with T. t. jeffersonii divided into two DUs. (Updated 2017/08/31)

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Distribution and Population

American Badgers occur throughout the southern regions of the western and central Canadian provinces, from the east slopes of the Coast mountains in British Columbia, eastward to the boreal forest of south-eastern Manitoba. A disjunct population exists in south-western Ontario, largely centred on Norfolk County. In north-western Ontario, American Badgers are occasionally reported from the agricultural lands of the Rainy River and Fort Frances area, but these are considered non-residents from the United States. The Jeffersonii subspecies exists as two isolated subpopulations. (Updated 2017/08/31)

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Habitat

American Badgers occur in non-forested grassland and shrubland biomes. Recent work has identified soil and prey availability to be the key defining features of habitat; coherent soils that can be burrowed into without collapsing are preferred. Closed-canopied forested areas generally are not used but early seral habitats along forest corridors can support prey populations that attract American Badgers into forest areas. Badgers are also known from alpine areas and wetlands. Agricultural areas support badgers provided there are sufficient hedgerows, fencerows and field edges. Cultivated fields are largely avoided. Habitat trends are generally declining across most of the species’ Canadian range. (Updated 2017/08/31)

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Biology

American Badgers breed in July and August with polygynous males often ranging widely to find females. Litter sizes average one to two kits. American Badgers do not hibernate, but movements are reduced in the winter and they may enter torpor for brief periods during extreme cold. Diet is highly varied, but usually focuses on fossorial (ground-burrowing) rodents, such as ground squirrel. Home ranges in Canada typically are much greater than those reported from the species’ core range in the mid-western United States. In British Columbia, males range from 33 to 64 km2, and females from 16 to 18 km2. (Updated 2017/08/31)

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Threats

The main threats facing American Badgers throughout their range are road-kill and decline in habitat. Habitat loss and degradation result from housing development, forest in-growth and encroachment, orchards and vineyards, and cultivation (row-crop) agriculture. American Badgers are highly susceptible to road-kill. Persecution by landowners likely contributed to historic declines, and likely is an important ongoing mortality factor in the Taxus DU. American Badgers in the Taxus DU are trapped for their fur and incidentally killed by rodenticides. (Updated 2017/08/31)

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Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the American Badger Taxidea taxus in Canada (2013)

    The American Badger (Taxidea taxus) is a medium-sized fossorial (burrowing) carnivore in the weasel (Mustelidae) family. They are well-adapted to digging, possessing a dorso-ventrally flattened body with a robust pectoral girdle and broad front paws used to excavate burrows and dig out prey. Four subspecies of American Badger are recognized, three of which occur in Canada. Mitochondrial DNA work found multiple distinct genetic groups in Canada. Four designatable units are recommended (Jeffersonii East and West, Taxus, and Jacksoni), each corresponding with the existing subspecies distribution of T. t. taxus and jacksoni, with T. t. jeffersonii divided into two DUs.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - American Badger taxus subspecies (2013)

    In the Prairies, this mammal is subject to furbearer harvest but also unmonitored and unregulated mortality by landowners, and the application of rodenticides. The lack of monitoring of total mortality, the limited amount of habitat in cultivated areas, ongoing threat of roadkill, and the projected use of strychnine leads to concern for the species in a large part of its range.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2017)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report – 2012-2013 (2013)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 2 Endangered: 28 Threatened: 19 Special Concern: 19 Data Deficient: 4 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 73 Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2013 (2013)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Endangered or Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 518 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by March 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.