Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Cheers for badger den near Julian

Years spent tracking “species of special concern”

Among 5000 images taken by the motion-activated camera, they got about 30 badger shots.
Among 5000 images taken by the motion-activated camera, they got about 30 badger shots.

As I glance in the passenger-side rearview mirror, a dusty plume billows behind us, brightly lit by the low morning sun. Next to me in the driver’s seat, Shannon Quigley-Raymond guides her car along winding Eagle Peak Road, southwest of Julian.

Eagle Peak Road, southwest of Julian

As we snake along the mountain roadway, she shares how three years of conservation work have recently come to fruition. Quigley-Raymond is a river ecosystem manager with the San Diego River Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and improve the resources of the San Diego River and its watershed. She explains that as part of its mission, the foundation has purchased more than 2000 acres of land in the San Diego River headwaters area. The foundation conserves and documents the wildlife and other resources at these open-space preserves.

In 2014, while surveying a newly acquired parcel of land, Shannon noticed several burrows that were quite a bit larger than the ground squirrel and gopher tunnels commonly seen. Puzzled, she took some photos and filed away a mental note of the discovery. Not long after, she attended a meeting of the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program, a group that works to coordinate and facilitate conservation in the county.

Biologist Cheryl Brehme inspects a badger den

Cheryl Brehme, a biologist with the United States Geological Survey, gave a presentation about an ongoing San Diego County study of the American badger, a California “species of special concern.” When Brehme showed a photo of a badger den, Quigley-Raymond recognized it right away. After conferring with Brehme and showing her the photograph that had been taken, a trip to the site was planned.

As they approached the burrow, things looked promising. The loose, sandy soil was well covered with wild grasses, dry and swaying in the wind. Numerous small burrows betrayed the presence of the rodents that make up the diet of the American badger. When the suspect hole came into view, Brehme knew they were on to something.

Badger at night

Closer inspection revealed tell-tale horizontal claw marks on the wall of the tunnel, and the recent presence of a badger was confirmed.

For the next three years, Quigley-Raymond and Brehme, with the help of river-foundation volunteers, attempted to collect more evidence and data of badgers at the preserves. Metal snags were placed at burrow entrances, in the hope of harmlessly grabbing small tufts of fur for DNA analysis. Remote wildlife cameras were set, only to have two disappear and another rendered useless after being used for BB gun target practice. The researchers continued their work.

In June of this year, a new set of burrows was found and again a wildlife camera was set in place. After about a month, the memory card was retrieved, and Quigley-Raymond went through the laborious task of reviewing the 5000 or so images. With a shutter that fires when activated by a motion sensor, a windy day on a grassy meadow can mean hundreds of photos of not much more than a hole in the ground. But in one of those shots, the corner of the frame contained what looked suspiciously, but not conclusively, like a badger.

The next month was a similar story. Three images taken in very low light showed something moving toward the burrow, but again, a badger could not be confirmed.

Irrefutable photo evidence of the American badger

In August the camera was repositioned to within just a few feet of the burrow under surveillance. This time, the empty hole became pay dirt. As Quigley-Raymond again flipped through thousands of images, she suddenly froze. “Badger! Badger!” she yelled, hardly able to contain her excitement. The foundation headquarters was nearly deserted on that Saturday morning, but from his office down the hall, foundation CEO Rob Hutsel rushed to join her at the computer. Together, they went through more than 30 photographs that clearly showed an American badger at the burrow.

A few minutes after she finishes recounting the saga, Quigley-Raymond pulls to the side of the road and the Subaru behind us follows suit. Inside are Katie and Eric Hengesbaugh, two river-foundation volunteers. They’ve come along to learn the location and operation of the camera so they can help with the monitoring. Not long after, we’re joined by an SUV with government plates. Brehme and Devin Adsit-Morris, a fellow biologist from the U.S. Geological Survey, grab their packs for the short hike to the den.

After negotiating our way through a barbed-wire fence, we enter the preserve. Within a few minutes, we see a steel fence post with the wildlife camera strapped to it, facing a hole nearly a foot in diameter. Loose soil, scattered by the badger while digging the burrow, litters the perimeter of the entrance. Brehme approaches the hole, leans in close, and visibly takes a deep whiff. “You can smell them if they’re in there,” she says to no one in particular.

Satisfied that the den is currently unoccupied, the team turns their attention to the camera. The memory card is inserted into the laptop Quigley-Raymond had brought along and the images saved. After reloading the camera and affixing it to its stake, the team returns to their vehicles, anxious for the analysis of the new images.

Along the way, plans to return and continue the monitoring are discussed. Once back to the road, the team separates. Brehme and Devin are headed to their next task, and the river-foundation group has another camera nearby to check. They’re hoping for pictures of a mountain lion on that one.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Football: a career low for Lucille Ball

A darker shade of twilight
Among 5000 images taken by the motion-activated camera, they got about 30 badger shots.
Among 5000 images taken by the motion-activated camera, they got about 30 badger shots.

As I glance in the passenger-side rearview mirror, a dusty plume billows behind us, brightly lit by the low morning sun. Next to me in the driver’s seat, Shannon Quigley-Raymond guides her car along winding Eagle Peak Road, southwest of Julian.

Eagle Peak Road, southwest of Julian

As we snake along the mountain roadway, she shares how three years of conservation work have recently come to fruition. Quigley-Raymond is a river ecosystem manager with the San Diego River Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and improve the resources of the San Diego River and its watershed. She explains that as part of its mission, the foundation has purchased more than 2000 acres of land in the San Diego River headwaters area. The foundation conserves and documents the wildlife and other resources at these open-space preserves.

In 2014, while surveying a newly acquired parcel of land, Shannon noticed several burrows that were quite a bit larger than the ground squirrel and gopher tunnels commonly seen. Puzzled, she took some photos and filed away a mental note of the discovery. Not long after, she attended a meeting of the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program, a group that works to coordinate and facilitate conservation in the county.

Biologist Cheryl Brehme inspects a badger den

Cheryl Brehme, a biologist with the United States Geological Survey, gave a presentation about an ongoing San Diego County study of the American badger, a California “species of special concern.” When Brehme showed a photo of a badger den, Quigley-Raymond recognized it right away. After conferring with Brehme and showing her the photograph that had been taken, a trip to the site was planned.

As they approached the burrow, things looked promising. The loose, sandy soil was well covered with wild grasses, dry and swaying in the wind. Numerous small burrows betrayed the presence of the rodents that make up the diet of the American badger. When the suspect hole came into view, Brehme knew they were on to something.

Badger at night

Closer inspection revealed tell-tale horizontal claw marks on the wall of the tunnel, and the recent presence of a badger was confirmed.

For the next three years, Quigley-Raymond and Brehme, with the help of river-foundation volunteers, attempted to collect more evidence and data of badgers at the preserves. Metal snags were placed at burrow entrances, in the hope of harmlessly grabbing small tufts of fur for DNA analysis. Remote wildlife cameras were set, only to have two disappear and another rendered useless after being used for BB gun target practice. The researchers continued their work.

In June of this year, a new set of burrows was found and again a wildlife camera was set in place. After about a month, the memory card was retrieved, and Quigley-Raymond went through the laborious task of reviewing the 5000 or so images. With a shutter that fires when activated by a motion sensor, a windy day on a grassy meadow can mean hundreds of photos of not much more than a hole in the ground. But in one of those shots, the corner of the frame contained what looked suspiciously, but not conclusively, like a badger.

The next month was a similar story. Three images taken in very low light showed something moving toward the burrow, but again, a badger could not be confirmed.

Irrefutable photo evidence of the American badger

In August the camera was repositioned to within just a few feet of the burrow under surveillance. This time, the empty hole became pay dirt. As Quigley-Raymond again flipped through thousands of images, she suddenly froze. “Badger! Badger!” she yelled, hardly able to contain her excitement. The foundation headquarters was nearly deserted on that Saturday morning, but from his office down the hall, foundation CEO Rob Hutsel rushed to join her at the computer. Together, they went through more than 30 photographs that clearly showed an American badger at the burrow.

A few minutes after she finishes recounting the saga, Quigley-Raymond pulls to the side of the road and the Subaru behind us follows suit. Inside are Katie and Eric Hengesbaugh, two river-foundation volunteers. They’ve come along to learn the location and operation of the camera so they can help with the monitoring. Not long after, we’re joined by an SUV with government plates. Brehme and Devin Adsit-Morris, a fellow biologist from the U.S. Geological Survey, grab their packs for the short hike to the den.

After negotiating our way through a barbed-wire fence, we enter the preserve. Within a few minutes, we see a steel fence post with the wildlife camera strapped to it, facing a hole nearly a foot in diameter. Loose soil, scattered by the badger while digging the burrow, litters the perimeter of the entrance. Brehme approaches the hole, leans in close, and visibly takes a deep whiff. “You can smell them if they’re in there,” she says to no one in particular.

Satisfied that the den is currently unoccupied, the team turns their attention to the camera. The memory card is inserted into the laptop Quigley-Raymond had brought along and the images saved. After reloading the camera and affixing it to its stake, the team returns to their vehicles, anxious for the analysis of the new images.

Along the way, plans to return and continue the monitoring are discussed. Once back to the road, the team separates. Brehme and Devin are headed to their next task, and the river-foundation group has another camera nearby to check. They’re hoping for pictures of a mountain lion on that one.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

A poem for Independence Day by Francis Scott Key

His poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” became the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Next Article

The Harrison G. Otis House: a Tudor Revival residence

Much of the craftsmanship and styling cues of the era remain
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close