Whether it was looking for a late-night snack or just lost its way, a badger that wandered into the bushes at a Clovis fast-food restaurant Sunday night attracted a lot more attention than it bargained for.
Around 8 p.m. Clovis police and animal control were dispatched to Taco Box on 21st Street across from Greene Acres Park.
The adult badger was captured without incident and relocated to an area near the city’s landfill south of Clovis, according to Interim Animal Control Director Marty Martinez.
“I’m on break and there’s this guy poking around in our bushes,” said Mark Miller, a night manager at the restaurant. “He said there was a badger in the bushes.
“He was hissing at us quite a bit and trying to hide, but he was pretty spooked.”
Miller said he never learned the man’s name, but the stranger told him he followed the badger to Taco Box after it crossed in front of his vehicle while making its way from the park.
Police Sgt. Mike Harmer said at first he thought there was a mistake until he saw the badger for himself, hiding in the bushes outside the restaurant. He said it was the first time he’d seen a call regarding a badger in more than 18 years in the department.
“I didn’t think it was a badger,” Harmer said, “because badgers don’t like people.”
The incident drew a small crowd of onlookers, he said, as animal control worked to capture the animal.
“There’s a lot of stuff that people don’t even know we have that comes out at night here, (but) I’ve never seen (a badger), and I’ve been here all my life,” Martinez said.
Harmer said with the drought this year, officers have seen an increase in calls related to wildlife in town, particularly snakes and deer, and even one call for a porcupine.
“It’s just been so dry, they’ve been coming in and eating in people’s yards,” Harmer said. “It’s just something you’re not going to prevent.”
Harmer said badgers are generally “nasty,” and “they’re not afraid of anybody.”
However, he said they tend to avoid contact with humans, and while he has seen them in wilderness areas while hunting, he has never seen or heard of one entering a populated area.
Harmer said police and animal control would prefer residents call them for wildlife issues rather than try to handle an animal.
Hillcrest Park Zoo Director Vince Romero said he was called Sunday night about the badger, but said he did not have an appropriate enclosure ready for the animal. He suggested it be released in an area where there was adequate water, such as the drainage areas around the landfill.
“You don’t see them in town like that. It’s pretty rare,” he said. “If dry conditions keep up, we’re going to see a lot more (wildlife coming in).”
Miller said prior to Sunday night, the only wildlife that frequents Taco Box are ducks that come over from the park and nest in the bushes, then take their ducklings back to the lake when they hatch.