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The American Badger is a squat medium-sized animal about 30 inches long, with short legs and a short bushy tail. If seen from the front the badger can easily be recognized by a white stripe that begins near its nose and goes to the back of its head. It has black bars in front of each ear and white areas around each cheek that extend into its ears. Badgers do not hibernate but will accumulate a layer of body fat to sustain them through the winter. In the warmer months they may cover many acres, traveling from den to den. Badger burrows are wider than tall to accommodate their body shapes. Badgers frequently eat ground squirrels, as well as mice and voles. Badgers are equipped with long and very strong claws used in digging burrows and in digging up other ground-dwelling animals. They are efficient diggers needing to catch their prey before it escapes.

In the mid-1800’s badgers were common in Winnebago County. In the early 1900’s hunting badgers was allowed; their many holes were considered a hazard to livestock. Eventually they declined and in 1957 all trapping and hunting was prohibited. Today badgers are still relatively uncommon in our county. As a heritage mammal, they are recognized for their contribution to the richness and stability of the county’s ecosystem. (Illinois natural heritage mammals are those whose loss would alter the delicate interdependency of all species within the ecosystems; 35 species of Illinois mammals have been identified as heritage mammals)

Winnebago County forest preserves provide habitat that badgers need.  They prefer open brushy habitat for denning and feeding.