"Three skunks and a badger ... this is the craziest thing I've ever seen." This was Steph Jones' reaction, overheard on a cellphone clip, when she happened upon a bizarre, four-way street brawl in Northeast Wyoming recently. Jones was travelling on a snowy country road when she encountered a badger fending off an onslaught from three skunks in broad daylight.

"I could smell it from inside my pickup," Jones told Cowboy State Daily describing the skunks' infamous stench. Thankfully, the windows on her pickup truck were closed on account of the icy weather otherwise she may well have been caught in the crossfire.

It's not the first time Jones has come across these creatures while driving that route, but she's never spotted skunks during the day, which raised some concerns that the animals may have been rabid. That doesn't appear to be the case, however, and it's more likely that the tussle was sparked by a mutual interest in a nearby carcass.

"They both eat a lot of carrion, so it’s likely there could have been a carcass in the area that they all wanted," Nathan Kluge, furbearer coordinator for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, explained to the Cowboy State Daily.

In areas where the ranges of the two species overlap, food is the most probable cause of a clash. Badgers and skunks have differing strategies when it comes to den sites, Kluge says, so a fight over real estate is unlikely. Badgers live in large dens called setts that may consist of hundreds of metres of tunnels. These elaborate homes may be used for several years. 

Skunks may also dig their own burrows, albeit less intricate ones, or they may commandeer existing burrows created by prairie dogs or foxes.

Although the badger in Jones' video appears to shrug off the shower of stench dished out by the trio of skunks, it would certainly have been affected. "It would be a very stinky badger by the end of it, that’s for sure," says Kluge. 

Top header image: Alan Krakauer/Flickr