As if pulled straight from 1940s animated Disney film, a coyote was filmed gamboling with a peculiar playmate — a North American badger — in a South Bay tunnel. It's the first time this behavior has ever been recorded inside a man-made structure.
KPIX reported on the faunal frolicking yesterday after some hidden camera footage was reviewed by researchers at the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), who are studying how nocturnal animals travel at night. POST got far more than they bargained for and recorded the landmark first in a Coyote Valley concrete tunnel.
This is the best thing you'll see all day! 🐾— Open Space Trust (@POST_fans) February 4, 2020
Our wildlife cameras spotted a #coyote and #badger together — the first time this type of behavior has been captured in the San Francisco #BayArea.https://t.co/YDcnhyiWL1 pic.twitter.com/qZQgcbwtTk
“To our knowledge, that's the first time [this playing and traveling behavior] has ever been observed [inside a human-made structure]," Neal Sharma, POST's wildlife linkages program manager told CNN. "Having that interaction on film and seeing how these two different animals that lead different lives, how they interact, it's just so exciting."
Remarkable and adorable as this is, coyote and badger relationships are well known; they’ve been seen, photographed, and videoed together with reliable frequency. Though, this example of mutualism isn’t as innocent as, say, Thumper and Bambi’s — because it’s a partnership in blood spilling.
“Coyotes and badgers are known to team up and hunt together,” remarks Sharma to KPIX. “Badgers like to dig, and they dig fast.”
“So there is footage out there of a badger flushing a ground squirrel nest and getting a ground squirrel of its own,” Sharma adds. “But there’s another ground squirrel that comes out another entrance to the den, and the coyote nabs that one.”
The Palo Alto-based non-profit partnered with Pathways for Wildlife to place some 50 hidden cameras around and under highways in the South Bay area. The odds were stacked in their favor that they’d, one day, capture a coyote and badger mingling.
Sharma explains these cameras are crucial to understanding the moving patterns of our local wildlife life: “One by one, spot by spot, using these cameras and the roadkill surveys [...] we’re getting a really good perspective of the wildlife dynamics and interactions with the roadways.”
I’m choosing to believe that the coyote sounds like Michael J. Fox and the badger sounds like Sam Elliot and they’re best friends on an adventure. https://t.co/oqVCEb37VY— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) February 4, 2020
The research partnership is only a year-and-a-half in, so there’s much more still to be learned about our hyper-mobile Bay Area biodiversity. And, in a particularly tumultuous time in human history, let this unusual duo prove that it’s possible to find common ground to coexist on — even if you occupy different branches on the Tree of Life.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), both the North American coyote and American badger have “Least Concern” conservation statutes, meaning each species isn't facing imminent extinction. However, the IUCN notes increased habitat destruction and rapid urban development threaten to push them out of their natural ranges — and, possibly on the day, into the pages of history.
Image: Screenshot, courtesy of Twitter via @POST_fans