American Badger


Walking on the Wild Side

Digging Deeper: Capturing the Spirit of the American Badger

 (American Badger - Taxidea taxus) 


This edition of my blog will cover my American Badger photography adventure— A narrative detailing my multi year odyssey in pursuit of capturing a fine art photo that truly captures the spirit of the American badger.

It was in November of 2017 when I saw my first badger in the wild. It all started with a fleeting glimpse - a hint of a short legged animal moving through the sage brush rich grasslands near the "Dream Stream" in Colorado. My husband Scot had asked me to come along to take some pictures of him fishing.

"What is that? Is that a coyote? a dog? Nooo! That is a badger! -- See you later honey." This is what Scot heard from his fishing spot on the river.  No sooner did he turn to look my way and I was gone in a flash - racing across the grassland with my 55-300mm zoom lens and D7100 DX Nikon camera (the best I had at the time) in hand.  While a 300mm lens sounds impressive, this will only zoom in to ~ 5 times what you can see with your eyes.  In order to capture this picture below, I had to risk getting closer in a non threatening manner and be watchful for any signs it may decide to attack. The badger stayed calm, and I did get some fun pics.

While this is a good portrait of a badger, the picture lacks the crisp focus and resolution needed to print a fine art print. The picture also lacks that emotion and sense of personality I like to capture as part of my work. Now keep in mind, this all happened before I even started selling my photography.  It was all about the excitement of seeing the wildlife.  So my journey to capture the spirit of a badger continued.  

Flash forward to June of 2019 when my next opportunity to capture a badger with my lens presented itself.  My mom, dad and nephew Hunter were in town for a visit.   Part of the agenda for my nephew's visit was to see wildlife - specifically - animals he had never seen in the wild. A badger wasn’t actually on his wish list of animals to see, but you never know what will show up in your backyard. It was early in the morning when my husband Scot saw this badger digging up dirt right off our back porch. Cue to wake up Hunter and show him an animal he many never set eyes on again.    

The picture below, was taken through the glass of a window as to not scare off the badger by opening a door or window.  The issue with glass, is it can degrade the quality of the picture due to dirt spots and glare. Therefore even with my now high grade professional camera gear I was not able to capture a high quality photo worthy of a fine art print.   

The next badger encounter, when I had camera gear in hand, happened in June of 2021. Scot and I had set up a blind to stake out a burrowing owl nesting site we had discovered. We were using a blind in order to not disturb the owls as they went about their daily routine. As is often the case on these kinds of outings, you never who else might show up. Enter three badgers… A mom and her two young ones were out roaming the prairie.  We first noticed them because one of the burrowing owls kept diving at something moving through the grass.  Turns out it had successfully deflected their line of travel away from the nest hole.

Not to surprising to see badgers here in the grassy plains where the prairie dogs are numerous.  The best part was watching the two young play fight as mom alternated between digging up things and keeping guard. Tough photo conditions with the tall grass which kept getting in the way and two frisky badgers who would disappear as they rolled about only to pop up somewhere else.  A truly magical encounter, but alas, no awe inspiring captures worthy of a fine art print. 

It was October 2023 when everything came together to get that shot,  a picture that truly captured the spirit of the American badger. The setting was near some old abandoned buildings from a homestead long forgotten by man. The tall grass swaying in the wind covered the massive holes dug by the badger looking for some "napping" ground squirrels. 

It was the ferocious growl I heard that had me on my hair standing on end and my eyes scanning for the culprit.  Little did I know, I had inadvertently interrupted the badger's important digging operation and it was letting me know it was not happy.  When I did finally lay eyes on it, it was staring right at me with a scowl on its face. Cue for me to back up and give it some space as I really had not meant to get in the way. Soon it went back to digging, the dirt flying up behind it. This is when I reached for my camera to capture this moment in time.  The tall grass was a factor, but I was able to take my time and wait for the badger to move into an opening to get some crisp focus pictures like this side portrait below. 


It is this last picture that I chose to make in to one of my fine art prints. Something about the expression just called to me. It is as if you can see it in the eyes, by the scar on the lip, the dirt on its nose and even the hint of a cataract in one eye.  This old badger has been around the block more than a few times.  If only we knew the stories it could tell.  

"Old and Wise" -- Open Edition Print

So now you know the story of my American Badger photography journey, from first encounter to final fine art capture. Although, I am sure not my last encounter or fine art photo of this wondrous animal. May it inspire you to seek out your own adventures, to chase your dreams, and to always remember that the greatest rewards often come after the greatest challenges.


Lea Frye - Wildlife photographer     |      Lea Frye, Wildlife Photographer        |    Helena, MT

                     Wild Animals / Wild Landscapes



Mary Bealer(non-registered)
Fantastic journey. I really enjoyed it.
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