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Forest Preserves, Chicago Zoological Society Study Illinois Badger

Close up of a badger. Photo by Dr. Jeff Nelson.
Photo by Dr. Jeff Nelson.

With their night-time travel habits and proximity to the ground, badgers are often hard to spot, which makes studying this predator a complicated endeavor.

Wildlife biologists were able to catch a badger near northwest Cook County, and the Forest Preserves and Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which operates Brookfield Zoo, have once again collaborated to study the animal’s health, behavior and habits.

CZS veterinarians surgically implanted a transmitter in the animal, allowing wildlife biologists to track where the animal moves, how it uses its habitat and where it feeds. Additionally, veterinarians collected samples as part of a thorough health assessment and for long-term disease investigation. This information will provide valuable data to characterize the health of badger populations and investigate new diseases that may threaten the conservation of this unique carnivore in our part of the state.

Within the implanted transmitter is a coiled antennae that emits a specific signal. Using a directional antennae to pick up the signals, a process called triangulation, researchers will be able to track and learn how the badger is interacting with and surviving in its environment.

Because badgers are an apex predator, their presence is an indication of the health of various habitats in Cook County. By understanding the badger’s habits, researchers will be able to better identify how conservation and restoration efforts can continue to benefit the health of badgers and the biodiversity of all wildlife and humans.

Check out this video by our friends at Chicago Zoological Society for more on this collaborative study.

To learn more, check out these stories from the Elgin Courier-News and Chicago Tonight.