Badger Trapping - Part II
Overall, especially considering their size and strength, badgers are easy to hold in foothold traps. I can honestly say that the amount of badgers I've lost out of footholds over the last 25-plus years could be counted on one hand. Even the small 1 ½ coilspring traps commonly used for fox will hold the largest badger if they get a few toes and part of the foot in it. They simply don't struggle too much against the trap. Instead, they dig. The circular catch pattern caused by a badger is easily identifiable. The amount of dirt left behind is dictated by the soil type, but it isn't uncommon to have a 1-foot high mound surrounding the entire catch circle. One interesting point is that they rarely dig at the point the trap is anchored, although it does happen at times.

Badger catch circles always surprise and intrigue people who accompany me on my trap lines, if they've never seen them before. The amount of dirt moved really does amaze me at times, too. I learned many years ago to set traps off ranch roads at least a few feet, and almost totally avoid the tops of stock dams because of the damage trapped badgers can do. I've shoveled many a hole back in to restore a road.

Badger catch circles make good set locations for coyotes, fox, and yes, more badgers. I simply level them off, replant a backing, and utilize the eye appeal and smell left behind. These mounds are usually the first to melt off in the winter, and the fresh dirt is appealing to canines at all times.

Badgers work most sets well, but I guess if I had to narrow it down to one, I'd have to say the standard dirt hole will catch the bulk of them. A close second will be a bone or skull set. Bait of various types will for sure work, but bobcat meat based baits seem to lead the pack. As far as lures are concerned, any good curiosity or call type lure will work, but I find a mild or 'sweet' skunk smell works the best. I've probably caught 100 badgers at flat sets with only coyote gland lure and/or urine, so I know they're tuned into other predators.

Bobcat sets and locations also seem to produce a high percentage of badger some years. They seem to show up when you least expect it, and will travel the full length of a rim-rock until they come in contact with one of your sets. Again, they're concentrating on a food source, in this case rabbits and pack rats. I think a badger is the only animal that will attempt to dig into a pack rat nest with its prickly insulation of cactus spines. I suspect they use their long claws to carefully remove this protective outer shell, and I can't recall any badgers with spines in their feet.
I use some flags in 'cat trapping, and have found that they work equally well for badgers. It's legal to use animal parts for 'cat trapping here in Montana, and a piece of antelope hide provides great badger eye appeal. Like 'cats, badgers no doubt see the movement of the flag and investigate. At times I wire a small piece to the eye socket of a large, bleached skull, and set a trap within a few inches of it to make an effective flat set too.

Interestingly, I very rarely catch a badger by the hind foot in a foothold trap. I don't keep a record of such things, but I'd have to guess something like only 5% or so. Keep in mind that this is in a variety of sets, from dirt holes for fox to walkthrough sets for 'cats. The only reason for this that I can come up with is that they walk with a fairly wide pattern, and don't seem to travel fast.

I get a few calls every year from trappers who comment on badgers 'leaving' an area, and not returning to locations where they previously found sign. My answer is that one of two things happened. First, like I previously mentioned, some adult males can really put on the miles when they decide too. Like some coyotes, they might never return as they've moved on to greener pastures. But more often, I think their "disappearance" is really the fact that they have gone underground for awhile.

I've seen many times where a badger has burrowed into a prairie dog hole, and stayed down there for a month or so. Some come to the surface a fair distance away, which leads me to believe that the older, established dog towns have interconnected burrows. Preying on this "sleeping" food source is no doubt easy, especially when you factor in that it's warmer underground than outside. From a badger's point of view, it's no doubt a good way to spend the winter.

No matter if you're targeting badgers or catch them along with other animals, trapping and observing "nature's earth mover" is always interesting.