Notes From The Frontier
The Magical Bond Between The Badger & The Coyote
Updated: Feb 17, 2020
The recent wildlife video (above) of a coyote playing with a badger has been taking Facebook posts and the media across the nation by storm as if this is an amazing anomaly in Nature and this coyote and badger have a rare bond.
But, Native Americans have known for eons that the badger and the coyote have a special bond and such stories are part of their story telling and mythologies. Pioneer in the 1800s also noted in their journals the surprising relationship between coyotes and badgers.
The relationship is of mutual benefit to both species as they hunt. Here’s how it works: A coyote will often beckon a badger to follow it to a den of prairie dogs the coyote has found. They travel together to the den. The badger begins digging at one of the holes, while the coyote stands at another hole, waiting for prairie dogs to escape the digging badger. But sometimes the prairie dogs react to the coyote at one of their entrances and run the other way, out the hole where the badger is digging. By working together, both coyote and badger increase substantially their chances of landing a live meal.
In fact, one series of scientific testing and observations of a single coyote hunting with a badger vs. hunting alone indicated a 34% more likelihood of the coyote finding a meal.
The interesting aspect of the recent video of a coyote playing with a badger then both walking together into a humanmade tunnel in San Francisco is shocking because the two species are not just working together but playing together.
The video is part of a wildlife video cam of the Peninsula Open Space Trust of San Francisco to find out how wildlife interacts with major roadways. The information is used to inform conservation efforts of in large metropolitan areas and how to expand wildlife habitats and build safe crossings for wild animals.
“It’s not uncommon for badgers and coyotes to hunt together,” said the Trust’s Matt Dolkas. “When they work together, it’s easier for them to catch their next meals. But to see them moving through a small tunnel like this while playing is pretty surprising!”
Jennifer Campbell-Smith, a behavioral ecologist at Binghampton University in New York, is also amazed by the video: ““The badger was showing happy behavior—for a badger,” she laughs, adding that badgers are known for being notoriously grumpy. “What’s more, the affability between the animals shows that they certainly know each other as individuals.”
She says the video helps the public relate to wildlife and understand that animals can have interspecies friendly and trusting relationships too. “It’s not just a human thing.”
Here’s another amazing video by Judy Lehmberg filmed in Yellowstone National Park about the coyote and the badger and their relationship:
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