Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Badger Encounter

When I am out searching for snakes, I always stumble across a lot of other wildlife, none of which is nearly as interesting as snakes. This trip was no exception. I started out early in the morning hiking next to a creek north of Timberlakes (NE of Heber, UT). The bank on one side of the creek is very steep and in some areas it is a straight drop off with the roots of large trees hanging out exposed from erosion. I was looking for a reasonable place to cross the creek to make the hike a little easier and I found a large tree that had fallen across the creek, providing a bridge across the creek (well, almost). The tree was about 6 feet above the creek and was large enough to be sturdy, but small enough that I decided to crawl across on my hands and knees as there was nothing to hold onto. When I was about 1/2 way across the log, out of the corner of my eye I noticed something moving and turned to see a large badger running along the side of the creek that I was trying to cross over to. I was not in a good position to run (obviously) so I kept still and hoped that the badger would not see me and just go on its way. The next few seconds were really tense for me as I watched the badger run up to the other end of the log that I was on. I don't know if this is normal for a badger, but this one ran with its head looking/pointing straight down and had not seen me yet. It also could not hear me starting to move backwards on the log because of the noise of the rushing creek water below. I was hoping that it would smell me and run off scared. Instead, it began crossing the creek on the log that I was on. I realized that the badger was going to run right into me because of how unobservant it was. I have heard stories of how these animals can take down an elk. My heart was now pounding and not from the hike. I waved one of my arms hoping to get it to see me. It didn't. I then yelled as loud as I could (note: when I say yelled, I mean I screamed like a little girl. I am glad no one else was with me to witness this). The badger stopped where it was on the log. It finally looked up and saw me. It sniffed towards me. It was only about 5 feet away from me. It then turned around and trotted back in the same exact path that it had traveled to get to my log bridge. It looked back one time at me and then was out of sight. I sat on the log for a short time wondering if I should continue across and then I did cross the creek and resume my snake hunting and I was just very grateful that the badger was not a bear.

(Note: I was not able to get a picture of the badger so the pictures are just generic)