November 12, 2022 – 6:03 pm
By some estimates, there are only 350 breeding American badgers in British Columbia, but a research group hopes to determine more precise numbers with the endangered population.
Ceryne Staples is an ecosystem biologist with the Simpcw Resources Group and the project leader behind a new study which is a collaboration between the Simpcw First Nation, Estsek’ Environmental, the British Columbia Badger Recovery Team and biologists from Minister of the Environment.
“The latest estimate of badger numbers in the Thompson area included 35-50 mature adults. Sadly, in 2022 alone, six badgers died on the roads in the region,” she said. “It’s alarming, it’s crazy and I think most of them were smoked on Highway 5.”
The study aims to determine the number of badgers remaining in the area. One of the biggest factors in the population decline is roadkill, she said.
A North Thompson woman said a badger has been living on her property since last year, but she’s worried because it’s near the highway. Another sighting of a badger was reported on Yellowhead Highway near Barrier last summer.
Working with landowners is really important as the team will find endangered badger burrows and set up hair and camera traps this spring, she said. Badger DNA will be taken from the hairs.
Last year the group conducted work last year to find the badgers and now they are encouraging residents to report any badger sightings to their hotline.
When she found a dead badger near Louis Creek along Highway 5, it got her thinking about what was happening one of the most important and she asked to start a study of the remaining number. .
“There have been more sightings in the North Thompson recently and we think that’s probably because we solicited sightings, but they also moved north,” she said, adding that ‘they also descended from the Cariboo Plateau in the North Thompson Valley. .
Rodger Packum, a retired Cariboo biologist, is also involved in the project. For years, Packum has studied badgers in British Columbia, and the group requested additional funding for Packum to conduct a wildlife culvert assessment along Highway 5 and other busy secondary roads, including Tod Rd. Mountain to Sun Peaks Ski Resort and Dunn Lake Road north of Barrière. .
“Cleaning up these culverts is one of the best things you can do for immediate solutions to highway mortality,” Staples said. “These badgers cross these highways and roads like six, seven times a night, their home ranges are huge.”
If all goes well, the culverts will be cleaned next spring and hair traps and camera traps will be installed outside the burrows for the next two years, she said.
The Simpcw First Nation has been trying to widen the Dunn’s Lake road for decades, so Staples said it’s an opportunity to review the road before construction begins to install wildlife culverts. All culvert installations will take place when the Department of Transportation arrives at road works and this is a long term plan for the group.
Badger sightings can be reported online via the British Columbia Badger Recovery Team website.
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