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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Spotted! A Coyote and Badger Hunting Together

Recent sightings of a coyote and badger on the prairie surrounding the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center brought attention to a fascinating example of 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.  

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Kimberly Fraser, USFWS 

Studies have shown that this unusual relationship is beneficial for both species. The coyote can chase down prey if it runs and the badger can dig after prey if it heads underground into its burrow systems. 

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center.

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.

These partnerships tend to emerge during the warmer months. In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow. It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Kimberly Fraser, USFWS

Coyotes and badgers have a sort of open relationship. They will sometimes hunt together; but they also often hunt on their own.
Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Kimberly Fraser, USFWS

Each species is a treat to see, but together is even more fascinating and special!


Thank you for the explanation......I've lived in Montana all my life, and seeing that was a first. I thought maybe something was wrong?
# Posted By Rob Uithof | 11/3/16 4:55 PM

This is absolutely amazing!!! I am only aware of my resident badger by the large holes in the area where the ground squirrels also live. Never have seen them. These photos are unique in that coyote and badger were captured in photos and that it was happening. And though it might seem an unlikely partnership, why wouldn't they hunt together, animals are much more cooperative with each other than we give them credit for being.
# Posted By Susan Chamberlin-Northeast Washington State | 11/3/16 5:56 PM

I must now see this before I die. This is the best. EVER
# Posted By Tiffany, Desert Wildlife Biologist | 11/3/16 8:04 PM

When you say, "Studies have shown that this unusual relationship is beneficial for both species" could you provide those citations?
# Posted By | 11/3/16 8:07 PM

Seems like it might be tough to be a black-footed ferret when the other carnivores are working the same prey-base in what is intended to be a ferret conservation area.
# Posted By Earle W. Cummings CWB | 11/3/16 11:20 PM

So what happens when the coyote chases the prey into the hole and the badger digs it up? Does the badger then share?
# Posted By | 11/3/16 11:46 PM

Associations between different species of prey animals have been frequently noted for mutual protection, but associations between predator species are less frequent. Would be interesting to see how they share after a successful hunt.
# Posted By DocPecos | 11/4/16 7:55 AM

I was fortunate enough to see such an interaction once. It actually involved two coyotes and a badger. The badger was digging at the entrance to a ground squirrel burrow; one of the coyotes waited right beside the badger while the other was situated 50 feet away on an adjacent slope. I had heard of such behavior before but was skeptical. I was highly curious to see the outcome of all this. Unfortunately the second coyote spotted me after a couple of minutes and let out a warning yelp, and both coyotes fled. The badger kept on digging, but after ten minutes or so gave up and walked away. I was really hoping to see what would have happened if the badger had unearthed a squirrel. Hard to believe prey is shared between two species; I'm guessing that if badgers nab a squirrel it's theirs, but if the badger causes a squirrel to flush into the open the coyote has the advantage. If both outcomes are equally probable hunting together could make sense, even in a winner-take-all outcome.
# Posted By Joseph Belli | 11/4/16 11:18 AM

Published papers on coyote/badger associations:
https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=coy...=
# Posted By Fiskr | 11/4/16 1:17 PM

Rhe sources are cited via text links in the article.
# Posted By Pickles | 11/4/16 3:17 PM

Just use google scholar to search on coyote badger relationships and the published literature to answer people's questions comes will come up. Here's the link: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=coy...=
# Posted By BirdsWords | 11/4/16 11:52 PM

I assume this also makes them more effective catching black-footed ferrets. I'd really like to see video of a badger sharing a kill.
# Posted By Jeff Turnage | 11/5/16 1:37 AM

Wow, love it. If only Democrats and Republicans could work together like this.
# Posted By Philly Dad | 11/5/16 5:53 AM

Wow, love it. If only Democrats and Republicans could work together like this.
# Posted By Philly Dad | 11/5/16 5:54 AM

I love stories like this. I have seen African wild dogs and a hyena team up before to take down large prey.
# Posted By Gordon Wheaton | 11/5/16 9:05 AM

In almost 60 years I've never seen a badger. Definitely on my bucket list but we're afraid they were pretty much extinct. Much encouraged!
# Posted By Meredith | 11/5/16 3:40 PM

Do they share their catches with each other?
# Posted By Steve Lep | 11/5/16 4:21 PM

Saw this in Custer State Park, S Dak. Amazing!
# Posted By | 11/5/16 8:57 PM

Wonderful! Thank you FWS for sharing this story.
# Posted By Reese | 11/5/16 9:00 PM

Someone asked for study citations. It looks like studies are linked to in the article. Hope that helps.
# Posted By Claudia | 11/6/16 1:45 AM

How do they share the bounty?
# Posted By Elizabeth | 11/6/16 2:37 AM

In high school 27 years ago we saw a huge 4 ft plus badger who eluded us and our curiosity in a culvert. It was in central Oregon. Lots of coyote in West Seattle city limits.
# Posted By Andrea Lister-Pierce | 11/6/16 4:53 AM

Just a few of the studies on this pairing:

Minta, Steven C., Kathryn A. Minta, and Dale F. Lott. "Hunting associations between badgers (Taxidea taxus) and coyotes (Canis latrans)." Journal of Mammalogy 73.4 (1992): 814-820.

Macdonald, David W. "The ecology of carnivore social behaviour." Nature 301.5899 (1983): 379-384.

Cahalane, Victor H. "Badger-coyote “partnerships”." Journal of Mammalogy 31.3 (1950): 354-355.
# Posted By | 11/6/16 6:40 AM
# Posted By | 11/6/16 11:37 AM

A ground squirrel will theoretically have less chance to escape a Badger and a Coyote hunting together. If it runs away from the coyote by going underground into a burrow, the Badger will dig it up. If it leaves a burrow to escape the Badger, the Coyote will run after it and catch it.

Minta et al. (1992) attempted to test these ideas, but were only partly successful. Although they found that Coyotes hunting with Badgers captured 34% more ground squirrels than Coyotes hunting alone, their results were not statistically significant (P=0.087; one-tailed test). In addition, they could not determine if Badgers captured more ground squirrels when hunting with Coyotes because Badgers caught and ate their prey underground, where Minta and his fellow researchers could not observe them.
# Posted By | 11/7/16 11:31 AM

Saw this in Yellowstone a few years back. Proves they are good at math: 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing!
# Posted By Joe | 12/23/16 9:11 PM

This is amazing. I didn't even think something like this was possible before!
;)
# Posted By BenWazhere | 1/12/17 7:15 AM

This is absolutely amazing!!!

Jamie Eliott
http://principleskills.com
# Posted By | 1/17/17 8:29 AM

This is not only a wonderful aspect of nature but also a reminder that we are guests on this planet and everyone has an equal share.
# Posted By Nature at its best! | 2/14/17 2:07 PM
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