PARK CITY, Utah – Parkite Caitlin Riviere was out for a run on Iron Mountain Trail yesterday evening when she nearly ran into a badger.
While badgers are not uncommon, it is fairly rare to run into one midday, and on a well trafficked trail.
Initially, Riviere thought the animal that she had stumbled across was a baby bear. Then upon closer inspection, she thought it might be a wolverine.
“It was huge,” Riviere said. “The teeth and claws on it, how it moved down the trail made me think it might be a wolverine.”
However, Rusty Robinson, once-in-a-lifetime species coordinator for the Utah Department of Natural Resources, reviewed the video and determined that, “this looks like a badger. They are in the wolverine family, but they are more sticky and low to the ground. The have short legs and big claws for digging.”
Robinson went on to say, “They can be pretty aggressive. It wouldn’t surprise me if it showed its teeth.”
A few other naturalists at the Utah DNR all concurred this was a badger, however its coloring is darker than usual and perhaps the animal was wet from yesterdays brief rain shower.
Badgers have strong legs and long claws on their front feet, which make them tremendous diggers. This digging ability allows the badger to unearth its primary food source, burrowing rodents, such as ground squirrels, gophers, and prairie dogs. Badgers have been seen at many varying elevations in Utah.
The badger is primarily nocturnal, but sightings during the day, especially during the early morning, are not uncommon. When inactive during the day and the cold winter months, badgers retreat to underground dens.
Wild Aware Utah states that, badgers “can put on aggressive displays when cornered, but are unlikely to attack unless highly provoked. They may hiss, growl, or snarl. Females will be more aggressive during the spring months when they have young in a burrow.”
Badgers are protected and classified as furbearers and they are managed through regulated trapping seasons.