Nature

Hunting Buddies: Why Badgers and Coyotes Hunt Together

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Coyotes and badgers are known for their cunning when it comes to hunting for their sustenance. Considering they regularly hunt for the very same kinds of prey, many times in the same places, it stands to reason they would avoid each other as much as possible in order to maintain a make on their own respective meals. However, this pair of wily creatures appear to have an arrangement that makes them the best of hunting buddies. They work together to hunt, as recently shared in a viral video, which you can watch below.

This partnership was also captured in images that originated close to the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in a series of photos that were taken by both photographers and by a wildlife camera trap. You view those shots here. If there was any doubt that badgers and coyotes hunted together, the pictures were proof-positive. A field camera caught some of the images, one of which showed a prairie dog looking on while a badger and coyote moved on across their shared territory together. Although it’s generally a rare thing for such images to be captured, the concept of their hunting partnership has been documented well in the past. In fact, Native Americans were aware of this phenomenon well before European settlers came to this continent, and it’s been the center of scientific study for a number of decades. According to Ecology Online, reports of badgers and coyotes hunting together have been made throughout Canada, the U.S., as well as Mexico. In most cases (90 percent, according to a study from the journal entitled “Mammology,”) such coyote-badger partner hunts feature one of each creature. Nine percent involved two coyotes and one badger. Only one percent were a partnership of three coyotes and one badger.

Video: Facebook/ABC News

Studies have determined that this partnership between the animals is designed to enhance the ability for prey to be captured by at least one of the animals, even if that results in the other(s) winding up skunked. Each partnership appears to stem from the coyotes and the badgers having a certain skill set for the hunt. Badgers are recognized as being awkward and rather unhurried in comparison to coyotes, which are quick and agile. The latter species excels at chasing their prey over open prairie. The former, however, are known as adept diggers which are fantastic at chasing small creatures through underground burrows. When ground squirrels or prairie dogs are the target, badgers are keen diggers in the hunt. Coyotes are the chasers, who’ll pounce on their running prey. So, when badgers and coyotes hunt together, they use their skills together to hunt more efficiently than if they were solo.

While their pairing appears to be beneficial in terms of a hunt, coyotes and badgers aren’t considered the best of friends. Ecology Online stated that although the lion’s share of these interactions “appear to be mutually beneficial or neutral,” the two animals have also been known to turn on each other, making one or the other the prey. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have noted that the two species lean toward this type of hunting partnership in the warmer months while drifting apart when the colder months move in. “In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained. “It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.” According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, coyotes are considered common throughout the Lone Star State, and prairie dogs are generally found in the Panhandle as well as in West Texas. The likelihood that these hunting buddies have happened upon each other in Texas is therefore pretty good!