Badgers are known to bury their meals. Usually it’s small fare, such as jackrabbits. But researchers have now found badgers caching something much bigger — dead calves (like the black and white one here).
Scientists have caught an industrious badger doing something unexpected. It buried an entire calf.
The American badger is known to bury carrion (dead animals). The cool earth acts something like a natural refrigerator. It keeps food fresh and hides the stored food from potential thieves. But researchers had never spotted badgers burying anything bigger than a jackrabbit — at least, not until 2016. That’s when a young, dead cow went missing. It had been part of a study of scavengers in northwestern Utah.
That January, University of Utah researchers set out seven calves in the Great Basin Desert. Each calf, which had died of natural causes, weighed 18 to 27 kilograms (40 to 60 pounds). A camera trap monitored what happened to these bodies. (Camera traps take a picture or video only when something trips its motion sensor.) After a week, one carcass had disappeared. What made that surprising: All of the calves had been staked in place so that creatures couldn’t drag them off.
But perhaps that hadn’t been enough, the researchers thought. Maybe a coyote or mountain lion managed the feat. To find out, the researchers checked the camera.
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Its images showed a badger had found the calf on January 16. The next evening, it came back and spent four hours digging below and around the bovine. All that time,…