GERING, Neb. – The groundhog may or may not see its shadow, but the forecast says there is a highly favorable chance for people to learn about another burrowing animal next month. Badger Day will be Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering.
Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist, said that Badger Day was inspired by Groundhog Day – which was actually inspired by Badger Day. To Germans, the badgers are the animal of choice for weather forecasting. Nineteenth century settlers from that country, however, had substitute a furry rodent when no badgers could be found upon their arrival to the East Coast.
“When they came to America, there weren’t a lot of badgers, so they used groundhogs to predict the weather instead,” Filipi said.
While badgers may not be plentiful in Pennsylvania, they are common in the central and western United States and thrive on the plains of the Nebraska Panhandle.
Attendees of the free event will learn about American badgers, predators that are highly proficient at digging for prey and a place to rest. Filipi also plans to discuss the history of Groundhog Day and lead attendees in craftmaking.
The event, which is an installment of the annual Wildcat Weekends series of events, is open to the public free of charge but a valid Nebraska park entry permit is required for vehicles.