Living with badgers

Though not commonly seen badgers exist throughout Minnesota except in the heavily forested northeast. Flat and furry, this nocturnal mammal spends much of its life beneath ground. That’s where it lives and that’s frequently where it feeds. They prefer open prairie but also make their homes in farmland.

Badgers are amazing diggers and can make a mess of a garden or lawn in no time. They primarily feed on mice, ground squirrels and gophers. In fact, the badger is the only predator that can dig out the deep-burrowing pocket gopher. Badgers also eat snails, grasshoppers, bird eggs, honey, insect larvae and snakes. An omnivore, badgers also feed on compost piles and gardens where they forage on fruits, vegetables and bulbs.

Keeping badgers out of gardens and compost piles

The best way to keep a badger from digging in your garden is to shut them out. Do this by installing a fence around the perimeter. Bury the fence at least 24 inches below ground and so that a 12 to 24 inch -long L-shaped length of wire faces away from the porch or deck. It should be made of heavy gauge wire with no more than a 2x3 spacing. An electric fence wire installed at 2, 4 and 6 inches high is another option but remember the badger may just dig below the wires to get in.

Sometimes badgers dig in one particular area, a lawn for example where underground food is abundant. A potential solution to this problem is to unroll sturdy wire over the area and secure it in place with landscaping pegs. Badgers have powerful legs and sharp claws and can easily dig through lightweight wire.

If you feed birds or other animals, especially with nuts or fruit, you may want to suspend this activity to reduce attracting badgers. Badgers are a protected species in Minnesota so you cannot lethally trap or shoot them except during regulated seasons or with a special removal permit from the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife.

DNR does not respond to badger calls

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources does not trap, shoot, or relocate badgers. Where necessary, removal of a badger is the responsibility of the landowner or tenant. For information on wildlife control operators consult your local phone directory or check website listings.

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