My friend Bob Tolleson was on the other end of the phone and I could tell immediately he was excited.
“I have to talk to you,” he said. “I know you won’t believe this, but I want to tell you what I saw.”
Tolleson and his wife, Jenny, were spending an enjoyable day searching for morel mushrooms in neighboring Miami County. One of their favorite spots is a large woodlot adjacent to an expansive overgrown pasture. After scanning the edges of the wood floor for several minutes he paused to gaze across the open meadow. That’s when he noticed something dark moving in his direction.
“It was a badger,” he explained.
Now in his 60s, Tolleson is an avid sportsman and no stranger to wildlife.
”I got a good look at it and this was no groundhog or raccoon either,” he continued. “I am positive it was a badger.”
This came as no surprise. American badgers are native to the Hoosier State and their numbers continue to grow, although sparingly.
In reality, badgers have always been a part of our natural landscape. There was a time when their numbers were few. In the early 1900s, barely a dozen counties could boast of having a badger population. In 1969 badgers, bobcats and river otters were included on Indiana’s original endangered species list and were highly protected. For the next 10 years, DNR biologists paid particular attention to these species. But by then badgers were found in 33 Indiana counties.
With each passing decade, their numbers continue to expand. Now they can be found in 82 of Indiana’s 92 counties. Once endangered, they have now moved down the list to a species of special concern and are still protected.
Biologists believe the increase in suitable habitat is the reason for their expansion. Unlike what you may think, badgers prefer tree-less, open-prairie-like areas. Although Indiana is the eastern edge of their geographical range, they continue to expand as more wooded areas are cleared for farmland. Primarily nocturnal, they can be seen during the day.