Population Ecology of Badgers (Taxidea taxus) in Ohio

Jared Duquette, MS Candidate
Stan Gehrt

With perpetual development and human sprawl landscape level fragmentation has become a keystone factor in the management and conservation of many species. Such a species is the North American badger (Taxidea taxus). This species was historically found in all Canadian Providences and U.S. states west of the Mississippi River, with populations sparsely diffused into the northern Midwest. However, in recent years badgers have occasionally been observed in non-historical areas, most notably the State of Ohio. Ohio’s landscape is highly fragmented with agricultural and developmental land practices. Despite this patchy landscape, Ohio still nurtures remnants of native prairie –the primary habitat of the North American badger. The Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) has been increasingly interested in assessing ecological questions pertaining to this secretive mammal and as of 2002 classified the badger as a species of concern. In order to evaluate these questions this state-wide study is taking a holistic and investigative approach to finding the basic distribution and ecology of the badger in Ohio. I will be surveying and collecting observational data from pertinent individuals, agencies, and associations (e.g. ODOW, Ohio State Trappers, etc.) and evaluating key areas in which to concentrate further investigations. These key areas will then be assessed for sign (e.g. snow-tracking and scent-stations) and if present, badgers will live-trapped and fitted with radio-telemetry collars for spatial and temporal movement evaluation. Additionally, anatomical and serological data will be collected during handling to assess population measures such as age, gender, and disease prevalence. Corresponding data from road-killed badgers and observations will also be gathered and summarized. Applicable data will then be incorporated into a GIS database and overlaid onto various landscape coverages such as land cover, road density, and soil classification. The GIS database and applied statistical analysis will then be used to build a population model in which to evaluate badger ecology and distribution in the State of Ohio. Due to the paucity of knowledge about North American badgers our empirical research will be vital in the overall understanding and conservation of this species in the Midwest and North America.

Funding Sources: Ohio Division of Wildlife, and the School of Natural Resources at The Ohio State University

Jared Duquette's Wildlife Web Site

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