Scientist from the University of Utah spent their time studying hoe scavengers in the Great Basin handle the cold weather. Instead, they found out something very surprising.
They have set up a camera and set out a carcass of a 50 pound calf to film how he scavengers behave in the cold weather. The scientists were thinking they would attract vultures or coyotes. However, they were shocked to discover what their camera had filmed.
A very industrious badger managed to bury an entire cow carcass by itself over five days, then feasted on it. After that, the badger covered the carcass completely with soil, then constructed a burrow, where it feasted on the beef for 11 straight days, according to National Geographic.
The American badger is known to store and bury food it finds, but nothing of this size.
“I was really shocked by the fact that these badgers could completely monopolize and dominate that food source,” researcher Evan Buechley told National Geographic. “This is an interesting niche, and it may be badgers are playing a more important role in the nutrient cycle than anybody knew.”
“We know a lot about badgers morphologically and genetically, but behaviorally there’s a lot of blank spaces that need to be filled,” says senior Ethan Frehner, first author on the paper documenting the badger behavior. “This is a substantial behavior that wasn’t at all known about.”
The work was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to doctoral candidate Evan Buechley.