A badger that surfaced in the backyard of a Brocklehurst residence in May suffocated to death in its hole, the BC Conservation Officer Service has determined.
The resident was shocked to find the endangered animal on her property, not realizing they lived in the Kamloops area, but when the Conservation Officer Service attended to relocate the critter, it was found dead.
Conservation officer Graydon Bruce told KTW the investigation found the death was human-caused, but that there was no malicious intent, with no charges forthcoming.
A necropsy and toxicology report on the animal ruled out foul play and narrowed down the cause of death to the animal suffocating, Bruce said.
The resident had initially found a hole in her garden and filled it in, not realizing what animal created it.
The hole, however, was continuously filled in, even after discovering the badger, Bruce told KTW.
“Multiple times, the badger resurfaced, so this gave a little bit of confirmation bias, I imagine, where her actions in her mind weren’t seen as potentially harmful to the animal,” he said, noting it was a misunderstanding of the animal’s ecology.
“Badgers are not like moles, they don’t tunnel under the ground, they don’t have multiple exits,” he said, “They generally will have a single entrance and exit to a burrow.”
Bruce said the resident didn’t realize this and filled in the hole, hoping the animal would move out through another exit.
The Conservation Officer Service responded to the badger call on May 5, a Tuesday. The resident discovered the badger on the previous weekend, telling KTW she hadn’t seen it make an appearance in her yard on that Tuesday.
When the Conservation Officer Service arrived, the hole was filled in, so officers uncovered it and set traps in the yard.
When the traps remained empty the next day, they dug about two feet into the hole, where they found the adult, male badger deceased.
“After the necropsy occurred, it was evident that animal had already died before we arrived,” Bruce said.
A number of factors have led to the decision not to press charges, Bruce said, noting the badger was initially reported as a mole or marmot, which resulted in the file not immediately going to conservation, meaning officers couldn’t respond fast enough to prevent the death.
That won’t necessarily be the case if a similar accident occurs, he added.
“We do not need intent to charge an individual with killing an endangered species,” Bruce said, noting punishment on the high end is a $500,000 fine or potential jail time.
The Conservation Officer Service hopes the takeaway from the incident is the public having a greater knowledge of the at-risk species so it doesn’t happen again.
Anyone who encounters a badger or mysterious hole in their yard should contact the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
“It will allow a professional to come and assess the situation and come up with a plan to either move that animal to a more appropriate location or give good advice so that members of the public do not make a mistake that may harm that animal,” Bruce said, noting photos can be sent to the Conservation Officer Service, which is online here.
Badger burrow entrances are about 20 to 30 centimetres wide, 15 to 25 centimetres tall and elliptical in shape, while the animal itself is distinguished by its black and white face and yellow or tan-coloured body.
Badgers are members of the weasel family and considered an at-risk animal in B.C., with fewer than 350 in province.