In 2019 the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society formed a partnership with ?aq’am and Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band) and applied to the Canada Nature Fund, administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada, for five years of funding to carry out Ecosystem Restoration projects in the Rocky mountain Trench. One of the largest project was to link two large areas of improved yellow badger (Taxidea taxus jeffersonii) habitat; one near Miller road and Tata creek and the other on St Mary’s Prairie near the Rocky Mountain International airport. This project would also create a large area reducing wildfire hazard near the airport and the small communities on Highway 95A, but it’s main aim is to improve the suitability of four Wildlife Habitat areas to make them more productive for badgers.
Overall badger management is designed to open dense forests and create a better crop of grasses and forbs to feed the yellow badgers main prey species for Columbian ground squirrel [Urocitellus columbianus]). There have been several badger surveys over the years and the Miller Road area has always been highly rated for it’s fine textured soils and open forests.
To better measure the effects of the thinning and prescribed burning in this large project area (see map 1) the Trench Society with funding from the Canada Nature Fund hired Keefer ecological Services to survey this area for signs of badger and ground squirrels in the summer of 2020. Specifically ;
1. Provide baseline estimates of occurrence for American badger at Ta Ta Creek;
2. Model American Badger habitat use relationships;
3. Develop a predictive distribution map for American badgers based on a resource selection function.
This survey laid out 58 kilometres of traversing; 200 traverse each 290 metres long; covering 71 grids covering the entire area treated and proposed for treatment under CNF funding. So far 36.5% of the areas surveyed is suitable for badger habitat. In addition, 31% of the traverses are occupied by badger and 66% of grids had squirrel occupancy. From the report
“This study found that American badgers are most strongly influenced by open canopy forests and grasslands, forest edge habitats, favourable parent materials, and according to the mapping badgers have a strong overlap with primary prey availability in the area. These results were consistent with results from similar studies in the region (Kinley et al., 2014).”
By establishing a baseline of data and a methodology for evaluating the effectiveness and occupancy of badger habitat, this report sets up a great chance for evaluating badger habitat after Ecosystem Restoration treatments. Funding is not currently available for the follow up but the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration program will be looking for funding in future years.
The completed report can be reviewed online at the Susan Bond Memorial library, found under Susan Bond Memorial Library/ badgers or follow the citation.
Keefer Ecological Services Ltd., 2021 American Badger Habitat Modeling Report, Ta Ta Creek Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resource Society Kimberley, BC March 2021 access by https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cCoXKnDLx409WX05AIIppVmm0bTFG0q5/view?usp=sharing
Map 1 showing The area surveyed for badger habitat 2020; Brown areas are Wildlife Habitat Areas created for badger management. Yellow are areas already thinned to open forest and grassland states. Gray polygons are areas proposed for ER treatments.
Special thanks to all our monitoring funders. The Canada Nature Fund from Environment Canada and Climate Change provided funding for this compilation; special thanks to Julie Couse at the ʔaq̓am Land and Resource office for administering the Canada Nature Fund. But there have been multiple funders over the past twelve years who have contributed to the ER projects in this Canada Nature Fund area; the Fish Wildlife Compensation Program (Columbia Basin), the Rocky Mountain Trench Natural Resources Society, The Habitat stewardship program (also run by Environment and Climate Change Canada), Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, Columbia Basin Trust, Forest Enhancement Society of BC and seven different funds operated by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
For further information please visit our website Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Program | Home (trench-er.com) especially visit the Susan Bond Memorial library where you will find the report cited in this blog.