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Aboveground predation by an American badger (Taxidea taxus) on black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus)

January 1, 2008

During research on black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus), we repeatedly observed a female American badger (Taxidea taxus) hunting prairie dogs on a colony in southern Phillips County, Montana. During 1-14 June 2006, we observed 7 aboveground attacks (2 successful) and 3 successful excavations of prairie dogs. The locations and circumstances of aboveground attacks suggested that the badger improved her probability of capturing prairie dogs by planning the aboveground attacks based on perceptions of speeds, angles, distances, and predicted escape responses of prey. Our observations add to previous reports on the complex and varied predatory methods and cognitive capacities of badgers. These observations also underscore the individuality of predators and support the concept that predators are active participants in predator-prey interactions.