Badger Battles Skunks in Rancid Roadway Rodeo In Northeast Wyoming

A Gillette woman who captured video of three skunks and a badger fighting on a road in Crook County, Wyoming, says shed never seen anything like it. A wildlife biologist says the two species do occasionally butt heads.

Mark Heinz

November 21, 20224 min read

Badger v skunks 1 11 21 22
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Bad attitudes and worse odors were the order of the day last week when Steph Jones of Gillette came across three skunks and a badger tussling in the middle of a back road. 

“I could smell it from inside my pickup,” Jones told Cowboy State Daily. 

Luckily, the encounter took place during last week’s brutally cold weather, so all the windows were rolled up. 

“I’m surprised none of the spray got directly onto my pickup,” Jones said. 

She was returning from a visit with friends in neighboring Crook County, and was on a county road at about 1 p.m. when she spotted a ruckus in the middle of the dirt road ahead. 

“I saw these four little things up ahead, and I thought they were cats,” she said. “And then I saw a badger and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, those other animals are skunks.’”

Now Always The Best Of Neighbors

Jones said she wasn’t sure why the critters were out during the middle of the day or what started the tussle. 

“It was a little eerie to see skunks out in the middle of the day,” she said. 

Jones said she’s frequently seen badgers while driving that route, but never skunks during daylight hours.

Skunks are usually nocturnal, and daytime activity can indicate the animals are rabid. However, the animals in the video all appear to be healthy. 

Also, if the badger had somehow agitated the small surfeit, a rancid roadway rodeo in the daytime wouldn’t have been unprecedented, a wildlife biologist said. 

Badgers and skunks “are two species that overlap in their habitat distribution, so they do sometimes compete,” biologist Nathan Kluge, furbearer coordinator for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, told Cowboy State Daily.

Dust-Up Was Likely Over Food

Food is the most common thing that could prompt smackdown between badger and skunks, Kluge said. 

“They both eat a lot of carrion, so it’s likely there could have been a carcass in the area that they all wanted,” he said. 

It’s unlikely the creatures were contending over den space, he said. 

Badgers prefer to either dig their own dens or move into abandoned prairie dog holes, he said. So, skunks and badgers aren’t apt to try evicting one another from their respective living quarters. 

The badger appears several times to pause after getting sprayed by the skunks, and the animals never make tooth-and-claw contact. Instead, they chase each other around the road, seemingly oblivious to Jones’ truck, as well as another vehicle that comes from the other direction and stops. 

That makes sense, Kluge said. 

“Both of these species have very poor eyesight,” he said, so they were probably more concerned with keeping track of each other’s location rather than what was going on around them. 

Not Prone To Fight

Wild animals also try to avoid actually fighting because they don’t want to risk physical injury, he added. 

Although the badger’s tenacity in the nearly 3-minute, 30-second video is admirable, Kluge said badgers are no less affected by the horrendous stench and stinging effects of skunk spray than any other species.

“It would be a very stinky badger by the end of it, that’s for sure,” he said. 

The aftermath was indeed anticlimactic, Jones said. And in the video, the badger seems to prevail in driving the skunks away – although its mood seems decidedly sour by the time the last skunk retreats.

“Usually badgers run away, but this one, he just wasn’t afraid,” Jones said. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter