Although the badger is Snow College's official mascot and the school's teams are called the Badgers and the Badgerettes, few students have seen a badger except the one mounted in the trophy case.

Few, that is, until a badger came wandering about the campus recently, apparently fresh from the foothills.A white poodle spotted the squat, reddish-haired critter first and set up a furious barking, though from a safe distance.

That attracted a crowd on the way to 10 o'clock classes, and they circled the badger, though also at a safe distance. One student tried tossing it a handful of popcorn. A companion, probably a biology major, suggested that a hot dog, minus the bun and the mustard, would probably be better received.

Should the badger be captured? Was it a member of an endangered species? Those questions were debated, half in fun.

Finally a custodian suggested a solution to the case of the wandering badger. Brad Bradley, a wildlife resource officer, was called to the scene.

He arrived with a cage in his pickup and a pair of heavy leather gloves on his hands. The badger, he explained while preparing to go into action, is a ferocious fighter when cornered.

And then, while the badger's attention was distracted, he grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and a hind leg and hustled it off to the cage amid applause that he didn't take time to acknowledge.

Bradley released the badger in Cane Valley, two or three miles east of Ephraim, in a dry, open space. Badgers' diet is rodents, he said, and they're great diggers.

They're also solitary creatures. He thinks the one he released was probably a male, since a female could have had a couple of pups tagging along.

"I didn't take time to ascertain if it was a badger or a badgerette," he said. "We were both anxious to part company."