Southern British Columbia, Canada, is the northwestern range limit of the American badger (Taxidea taxus) and supports a nationally endangered subspecies. We initially investigated space-use, diet, and demography in southeastern British Columbia to characterize range-limit ecology. Resident badgers in the northern part (NP) of our study area were extirpated or nearly so during our study (λ = 0.7), whereas the southern (SP) badger population remained viable (λ = 1.2). This apparent difference in viability between NP and SP may have been confounded by timing because research occurred later in SP; litter size, number of Columbian ground squirrels (Spermophilus columbianus) consumed, and home range size were each correlated nearly equally to latitude and date of research, and survivorship was greater later in the study for both the NP and SP. Collectively, these factors indicated temporal, not just spatial, variability. Therefore, we translocated badgers into the NP to 1) determine whether the NP had lost its capacity to support badgers or had merely experienced the variability expected at a range limit and, if the latter, 2) initiate recovery. Translocated animals and their offspring had kit production equivalent to that of SP residents, adult survivorship intermediate between the NP and SP residents, and no confirmed kit mortality, with population growth projected (λ = 1.3). Diet of translocated individuals was similar to that of residents. Home ranges of translocated females were intermediate between the 2 resident groups, and home ranges of translocated males were not different than either resident group. Juvenile dispersal dates and distances were similar to those of residents for each sex. Our results were consistent with the extirpation of the NP being driven by temporally variable conditions or the effect of random events expected at range limits. The extirpation of NP did not appear to have been primarily due to any permanent loss of the NP's capacity to support badgers. At 3.5 years after starting translocations, badgers remained in the NP within an apparently growing population. We found translocation to be a useful diagnostic and conservation tool for badgers at their northern limit. Its utility may extend to countering the fluctuations typical of other rare, range-limit species.
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Vol. 72 • No. 1