Posted by the team of the Animal of the Year 23.12.2016
When will we see the badger again? About 35 years ago it was much simpler to answer this question – in the spring we will see him, badgers should sleep in winter and that was all..
The winters were really cold then and thaws were rare. So to where do you hobble then with your short legs in thick snow and sharp frost, and no food to be had either.
The winter determined the length of the badger’s sleep and so it does now too. In the old days we went many times to visit the wintery badger setts. Usually with luck there were fox tracks to be seen outside the burrow, raccoon dog tracks were rather rare then at badger setts. Instead But instead there were often raccoon fur caps, reminding of haystacks, on the heads of hunters.
With thaw or only a few degrees of frost badgers too had been out at the burrow entrance to air themselves. Once, judging from the tracks, a wolf had been lying on the roof of the burrow in wait for badgers – the wolf knows that thaw entices the badgers out into the fresh air.
As time goes by the briefer and more fragmentary the winter sleep of badgers seems to become. Half a century ago badgers may have had a deeper winter sleep, and a month longer too than our contemporary ones and perhaps future generations will run around all the year without hibernation.
In theory, now should be the period with the fewest badgers and the probability of a meeting with them should be at its lowest. But winter will see to these things.
We don’t know when we meet the badgers again but judged from the thickness of their fat layer there should be a proper winter to come. We will see however in the course of the work here how it turns out .
Tiit Hunt, rmk.ee