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Wisconsin State Animal

Wisconsin's unofficial nickname as the "Badger State" occurred many years before the badger become the official state animal. During the lead-mining boom in the early 1800s in southwestern Wisconsin, miners were too busy digging the "gray gold" to build houses. Like badgers, they moved into abandoned mine shafts for shelter. The nickname stuck, and it became a fitting description of the hardworking and energetic settlers of the Wisconsin Territory.

Over the years the badger appeared officially in the coat of arms, the seal, the flag, the state song ("Grand old badger state!"), and as an architectural detail in the state capitol. "Bucky Badger" also has served for years as the mascot of the UW-Madison. In 1957, four Jefferson County elementary school children requested the state legislature to make the badger the state animal, but some people in northern Wisconsin disagreed. They wanted the white-tailed deer named the state animal. They felt that Wisconsin’s large white-tail deer population and annual deer hunting season made the deer an important part of our economy and recreation. The legislature compromised by making two official animals. In 1957, it named the badger the "state animal", and the white-tailed deer as the state "wild-life animal".

In 1971, legislators added the dairy cow as Wisconsin's official "domestic animal,” in recognition of the animal's importance in the state's role as "America's Dairyland".

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