Coyote and Badger: the BFFs the world needs

They may look like an odd couple, but it turns out coyotes and badgers have long been known for their mutually beneficial friendships.

The Peninsula Open Space Trust recently captured heartwarming video of just such a pair in California.

A coyote jumping for joy as it waits for a badger to catch up so they can cross through a tunnel together.

“Our wildlife cameras spotted a coyote and badger together — the first time this type of behavior has been captured in the San Francisco Bay Area,” the organization tweeted. 

The coyote’s playfulness and tail-wagging is positively dog-like as its badger sidekick waddles alongside.

Call it a buddy movie for the ages.

This video is part of a three-year study to understand how major roadways that surround the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains impact wildlife.

There are more than 50 remote-sensor cameras at existing bridges and culverts.

And, Neal Sharma, the trust’s  wildlife linkages program manager, has seen thousands of animals on the remote cameras, but nothing quite like this.

“This video of the coyote and badger is one of our favorites,” he explained, “and it’s clearly captured the hearts of people around the world.”

The video has gone viral.

Which got people wondering.

How often are coyotes and badgers BFFs?

It turns out: Often.

Back in November, 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documented one such relationship.

The National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in northern Colorado highlighted an incredible partnership.

“Coyotes and badgers are known to hunt together and can even be more successful hunting prairie dogs and ground-squirrels when they work in tandem,” the USFWS explained.

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS

Here’s how it works.

While the coyote can chase down prey if it runs, the badger can dig if the prey burrows underground.

“Each partner in this unlikely duo brings a skill the other one lacks. Together they are both faster and better diggers than the burrowing rodents they hunt,” the USFWS explains.

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS

This is more common when it’s warmer.

That’s because in the winter, the badger can easily dig up sleeping rodents tucked in their burrows.

Badgers don’t really need a coyote’s help.

Coyote and badger take a break at Colorado’s Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS

The duo has what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls an “open relationship.”

“They will sometimes hunt together; but they also often hunt on their own,” biologists explain.

Bussom buddies? Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS

It’s not clear where the badger and coyotes went after they got through that California culvert.

But the culvert video is special for another reason.

“This is the first documentation (that we know of) showing a coyote and badger using a human-made structure to travel together safely,” the trust pointed out.

The non-profit group will use its research to help protect habitats and expand wildlife crossings.

“This work is increasingly important,” Sharma added, “Especially as we consider the impacts of climate change and the fact that wildlife need to be able to locate the resources they need for survival, now and into the future.”

Photo Peninsula Open Space Trust

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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