Toronto – A single badger has been caught on video burying the carcass of a full grown cow. The behavour has never been captured on video before.
Researchers from the University of Utah wanted to study scavenger behavior in Utah’s Great Basin Desert. According to the Daily Mail, badgers were not part of the initial brief, with the team laying out seven calf carcasses and setting up camera traps to see how vultures and other avian scavengers responded.
Researchers had left seven calf carcasses in Utah’s Grassy Mountains in January last year in an attempt to study which scavengers descended on the animals.
“I was expecting we were going to get a lot of vultures and maybe some eagles and coyotes and different things,” said Evan Buechley, a doctoral candidate at the University of Utah and co-author of the study. “But then this badger stole the show.”
Buechley and his team were more than a little surprised To find one of the cows had completely disappeared.
“The ground was disturbed but I didn’t expect it to be buried,” said Buechley. “I was pretty bummed because it was a tonne of work to drive these carcasses out into the desert.”
Upon looking back at the footage, the team discovered what happened. On the video, the badger can be seen digging around the calf until the dead bovine sinks into the dirt as the tunnels dug beneath it collapse. The 10kg animal then covers its cache with soil, before taking what appears to be a well-earned rest atop the mound, looking directly at the camera. “I was really shocked and amazed, and really excited,” said Buechley.
“This adds more questions than it answers,” Buechley says. “The nutrients in a carcass can be very important for many different organisms in an ecosystem. So if badgers are monopolizing them and they have the ability to bury perhaps any mammal carcass in North America and they’re present across much of the continent, the potential ecological implications are profound.”
You can watch the badger bury the cow in the video below.
The full study can be read online.
Source: University of Utah