Holy cow: Badger filmed burying entire bovine in the desert (VIDEO)
Researchers in the US have witnessed a practice never before recorded on film – an American badger using its digging skills to corner the ‘scavenger market’ and bury a whole cow.
A University of Utah study suggests that the hardy omnivores may actually have a nose for economics, with one particular badger hiding a dead cow from competitors in Utah’s Great Basin Desert to eat later.
The practice has been likened to how an entrepreneur might monopolize an industry and, according to researchers, represents a remarkable never-before-seen example of a badger burying an animal larger than itself.
Study author Evan R. Buechley and his colleagues had initially intended to document the behavior of vultures out in Utah’s Grassy Mountains in January 2016.
But after setting camera traps and staking seven cow carcasses to the ground in the harsh, deserted region, the team was stunned to find that one of the bodies had gone missing during the very first week.
“When I first got there I was bummed because it’s hard to get these carcasses, to haul them out and set them up,” Buechley told UNews. “I thought, ‘Oh, well we’ve lost one after a week.’”
However, on further investigation it was found that the cow had in fact been placed in a shallow grave by none other than a tireless badger.
“We didn’t go out to study badgers specifically, but the badger declared itself to us,” Buechley added.
Footage captured by the University of Utah shows how the sharp-clawed American badger worked day and night to commandeer the cow carcass and secure it in an underground pit.
“There’s not a lot of resources out there. A large dead ungulate can provide a ton of resources. So far on the carcasses we’ve put out, we’ve had turkey vultures, golden eagles, many ravens, bobcat, kit fox and coyote, so there’s a lot of animals that could be using this resource, and the badger just monopolizes it,” said Buechley.
Another incident of badger-cattle burial was also recorded in the ‘Subterranean caching of domestic cow carcasses’ study. However, on that occasion the cow’s carcass was only partially buried.