An unexpected animal pairing was spotted traveling through a tunnel in California. The coyote and badger might have been hunting together, experts said.
The duo were captured on video moving through a culvert, a drainage tunnel, under a highway by the California-based organization Peninsula Open Space Trust, which works to conserve land around Northern California for wildlife.
In the footage, the coyote gives a play bow (when a canine stretches its front legs out and leans on its elbows) and hops around, waiting for its companion to follow. The badger trails not far behind as they walk into the tunnel.
According to POST, coyotes and badgers are great conspirators, and their respective skills work well together to make it easier to hunt prey such as ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
Such pairings have been documented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but POST noted that this is the first time the animals have been seen traveling through a man-made structure.
It’s fairly rare, the organization said, to capture badgers on camera because they spend so much of their time underground.
The video is not only extremely adorable, it’s integral to conservation efforts. The remote sensor cameras, according to POST, that recorded this footage help gather data to find “areas of safe passage” in urban spaces filled with roads and highways.
“Habitat loss and fragmentation due to human development and roads is the greatest threat to coyotes and other native carnivores, second only to trapping and trophy hunting,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Government estimates put the number of animals killed by vehicles in America at about a million per day.
Coyotes, Block said, are “unfairly and cruelly slaughtered” in response to reports of aggressive behavior toward humans. The animals are usually afraid of people and approach only when they have been fed by a human, according to the Humane Society.
“Anyone who lives with a dog recognizes that play bow and can relate to this close cousin of man’s best friend,” Block said. “We hope this video will inspire people to treat coyotes with compassion instead of cruelty.”
Written by Joshua Bote | USA Today