Using commercial forestry for ecosystem restoration in sensitive badger habitat

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The American badger is endangered in British Columbia. Badgers inhabit grasslands and open forests, and badger habitat is threatened by forest ingrowth and encroachment related to wildfire suppression. Ecosystem restoration (ER) involves removing forest ingrowth and reintroducing prescribed fire. Commercial forestry can subsidize restoration work, but machinery may damage important badger burrows. We examined an ER cutblock within a designated badger wildlife habitat area. Badger burrows were placed in 5-7 m radius machine-free zones (MFZs) and surveyed before and after logging. Machine operators were trained to protect burrows, and we tested their ability to protect unmarked burrows. Pre-flagged MFZs protected almost all burrows within them (98%, n=258) from damage. Operators found only 9 of 38 unmarked test burrows, but also located and protected an additional 63 new burrows. We conclude that MFZs of 5-7 m radius are sufficient to protect badger burrows during logging operations when combined with operator training.
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