The return of the badgers to the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park last summer created a spark of excitement.
Now there’s an opportunity to learn more about the short-legged mammal at an upcoming Park Talk of the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation on Feb. 19 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Nan Boothby Memorial Library, 405 Railway St.
Nicole Heim, a wildlife ecologist for Alberta Parks, will be providing information on badgers, their beneficial role in grasslands ecosystems and how to behave around them.
Heim has been engaged in wildlife research programs for over 15 years, including studying the American badger in B.C.’s Caribou region.
“I’m not an expert but I have a background in working with them and I know a little a bit about them. Because of the increased interest in their presence in Glenbow, we thought it would be a really good opportunity to share some of that knowledge with people.”
The presence of these small mammal predators is beneficial to the ecosystem of Prairie grasslands because of their burrowing nature.
“They are also a habitat creator for other species including burrowing owls and swift fox so they create habitat for other species as well. You really want them on the land base for a healthy grassland ecosystem. They are a very key player.”
They are also a natural way to deal with the swelling population of ground squirrels in the park.
“Badgers will consume a significant amount of ground squirrels while in an area so they can regulate those populations which will have a really positive impact.”
Until this summer, it had been four years since the last sighting of a pair of badgers at the Glenbow Ranch so they're returned created quite a stir.
“They ended up taking residence just off of one of our more popular paths so everyone was seeing badgers last year and that was really exciting for us because they have an important role to play in Prairie grasslands,” says Sarah Parker, GRPF executive director.
“Because people were seeing them so much we received a lot of questions about badgers and Alberta Parks was really excited to observe these badgers,” explains Parker.
The badger population is sensitive in Alberta and they’re endangered in B.C.
“They are definitely a species that could be of concern if we don’t do our best to keep them around," says Heim.
“They’ve kind of come and gone so we want to do our best to encourage them to stay.”
“They’re pretty cute, too,” she adds with a giggle.
GRPF Park Talks are a free public education series. Donations, though, are welcome to help further their work.