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Badgers pop up around Mount Diablo

by on September 24, 2012


Head out to Mount Diablo and if you’re lucky you may, just may, see a badger these days.

The top-tier predators have been showing up in greater numbers in recent years, a sign that the health of the grassland ecosystem is improving, say conservationists.

“We see roadkill and occasionally we see burrows. And lately we have seen a live sighting,” said Seth Adams, the lands program manager for Save Mount Diablo. “That’s pretty exciting because a big predator is coming back.”

The first badger noticed was roadkill on Ygnacio Valley Road in 2007. In July, a badger was caught on a camera trap at night on private land north of Round Valley Regional Park, setting off a flurry of excitement. Adams estimates that as many as 10 pairs could inhabit the Mount Diablo area at full capacity, but he doubts based on the number of sightings reported that they’ve reached that high a population yet.

Badgers are a keystone species, meaning they are an indicator of the overall health of the ecosystem. Since their disappearance in the 1970s, thousands of acres of land in the area has been bought from private landowners and is now under management by public agencies interested in preserving wildlife.

But the single biggest factor is probably the spike in the ground squirrel population, said Malcolm Sproul, president of Save Mount Diablo. Much of the open space now has restrictions on the use of rodenticides, which previously killed back the ground squirrel population.

A badger is caught on camera trap in July 2012 north of the Round Valley Regional Preserve. Photo courtesy of Margaret Kruse/Cakebread family.

“Ground squirrels are the foundation for so many of our predators, not only as a food source, but for badgers, they come in and enlarge ground squirrel burrows,” Sproul said.

This member of the weasel family is also instrumental in creating habitat for other species by abandoning burrows to foxes, skunks and other wildlife. So badgers have their own value to add to the ecosystem.

“We don’t know what all the ramifications will be,” said Adams, “But it’s encouraging because what it means is that a fragmented biodiversity is being restored to a greater level of intricacy and diversity and that’s a good thing.”

Badgers are hard to spot, mainly because they inhabit such large territories. So don’t be disappointed if one doesn’t pop out of a burrow to greet you. Count your lucky stars, if it does.

Alison Hawkes is the Online Editor for Bay Nature.


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Chris on September 24th, 2012 at 5:12 pm

We saw a badger this summer on the Pierce point trail in Pt. Reyes.

Kenny Walsh on July 12th, 2013 at 6:15 pm

love your article ,,Contra Costa native of 36 years , you spelled Ygnacio wrong !

Alison Hawkes on July 15th, 2013 at 10:28 am

Thanks! I went in and corrected it. -Alison

Jeff Chauvet on July 23rd, 2014 at 1:54 pm

I saw a badger today on boundry oak golf course in walnut creek, and photographed it.
No doubt about what I saw. 25 ft away looking right at me. Awesome!!

Bay Nature Staff on July 23rd, 2014 at 2:11 pm

That does sound awesome, Jeff! Nice spot. Please send a pic to outreach@baynature.org if you’d like to share it, or post it to our Facebook page (facebook.com/baynature). We’d love to see it!

Dv on July 12th, 2015 at 7:38 pm

My wife and I ran into a badger in Mt. Diablo on Falcon Road Trail near Burma Road Trail. It was too quick to get a photo but thrilled to see one. I saw this article after checking to see if there are other sightings.

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