American Badger Recovery Strategy Executive Summary
This document provides a summary of the recovery strategy for the American badger, which advises the ministry on ways to ensure healthy numbers of the species return to Ontario.
Prepared by the Ontario American Badger Recovery Team
The American Badger (Taxidea taxus jacksoni), a subspecies associated with tallgrass prairie and mixed grassland habitat of the Great Lakes region, is one of three badger subspecies found in Canada. It is present in southwestern Ontario, mainly along the north shore of Lake Erie, and a second, presumably smaller, population occurs in the very northwestern portion of the province, adjacent to the Minnesota border. The Ontario breeding population is thought to consist of fewer than 200 individuals.
In 1979, the American Badger was listed as not at risk in Canada. In 2000, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) redefined the Canadian badger population to include three subspecies: T. t. taxus in the Prairie provinces, T. t. jeffersonii in the southern interior of British Columbia and T. t. jacksoni in Ontario. Additionally, COSEWIC upgraded the status of the jeffersonii and jacksoni subspecies of the American Badger to endangered. In 2004, T. t. jacksoni was added to the Species at Risk in Ontario List as endangered – not regulated. When this list was regulated in 2008, the subspecies was removed from the species name.
Little research or monitoring has been conducted on the Ontario populations of the American Badger. As a result, many knowledge gaps exist with regard to the abundance, distribution and population trends of this species, as well as its behaviour, habitat requirements, prey species, mortality factors and ecological role. In response, a badger working group was formed in 2001 to look at collecting some preliminary data on the badger in Norfolk County, an area of concentrated activity for the species in the province. A public awareness campaign and request for information led to several dozen new sighting records and specimens. This campaign helped lay the foundation for the formation of the Ontario American Badger Recovery Team.
The goal of this recovery strategy is to achieve reproductively sustainable and secure populations of the American Badger throughout its current range in southern and northwestern Ontario over the next 20 years. To accomplish this, several recovery objectives must be met:
- Fill knowledge gaps on American Badger ecology, behaviour, distribution, movement, dispersal, population dynamics, mortality factors and habitat use in the species' Ontario range.
- Increase public awareness of and appreciation for the badger and its ecological role in grassland and agricultural ecosystems.
- Reduce human-related threats.
- Quantify habitat suitability for the application of habitat modelling and protection mechanism
This recovery strategy recommends that specific research, monitoring and habitat stewardship activities, as well as public outreach and education activities, be conducted over the next five years to gain a better understanding of the American Badger and its requirements so as to be able to recover the species in Ontario. Owing to the persistence of reproductive individuals in suitable but fragmented habitat within Ontario and demonstrated habitat restoration techniques, it has been determined that recovery of the American Badger in Ontario is feasible.
Considering the functions and significance of dens to badgers as residences, as well as the importance of available prey in proximity to them, this recovery strategy recommends that American Badger dens and areas identified as foraging habitat in proximity to a den be considered for protection in a habitat regulation.