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Least Weasels Rare in Wyoming

LEAST WEASELS: State law lists the “weasel” as a furbearer. Three weasel species exist in Wyoming: long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel (ermine) and least weasel. The least weasel is very small and its fur has negligible value. The species is quite rare and little is known concerning distribution. Trappers are asked to make every attempt to avoid trapping the least weasel. The Wyoming Fish and Game Department requests that unintentional trapping of a least weasel be reported to the Nongame Section in an effort to preserve the specimen for scientific use.

The easiest way to distinguish the least weasel from the short-tailed and long-tailed weasel are by looking at the tail.  Both the short-tailed and long-tailed weasels have a black tip on their tail.  The least weasel is missing this characteristic and has NO black tip on the end of its tail.  Please report any sightings to either us or your local game warden so that more information can be gathered on the population dynamics and locations of these unique predators.

Unfortunately traps are indiscriminate and will capture least weasels just as easily as long-tailed or short-tailed weasels.  Due to the lack of trapping restrictions and the rarity of this species, least weasels may be extirpated from the state before data on their locations can be collected.

19 Comments

  • Catherine

    While working in yellowstone at Rosey in 2006 my then boyfriend would leave his cabin door open a lot to get a nice breeze in his cabin. I would see a very tiny little dark brown and white creature keep running in his doorway and run back out. haha. It was so cute that I told him I wanted it as a pet. He of course thought I was crazy because he didn’t see anything. But after I saw a video of a least weasel I knew that was what it was. I remember telling him that it looked like a very very tiny ferret. Good to know I wasn’t imagining things.

  • betsy egeland-zook

    saw one on casper mountain bridle trail today!!!! so so cute and small and very curious! darting in and out of the rocks and kept coming back to peek and play. tried to get pic. I was too slow, only got the nose!! but made my day!!!

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Thanks for sharing this Betsy! We’ll add it to our records.

      • Weasel spotter

        I saw one today on the bike path right near the Whole Grocer

        • Wyoming Untrapped

          Thank you! Were you able to take a photo?

  • Larry Rice

    Saw one yesterday in Guernsey on the bridge by the Oregon trail rutt turn off after the river bridge. Was a solid dark color and darting to cover by the stream.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Thanks for sharing Larry! We will document this sighting and add it to our database. Surprised that he wasn’t white for the winter already!

  • sherry beebe

    I got one living in our yard here at Warren Bridge , got a pic this morning of it , beautiful and pure white

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Sherry,

      Would you please send us a photo of the least weasel that you are lucky enough to have living near your house? We love to share these fascinating creatures with folks. You can send it to info@wyominguntrapped.org. Thank you!

  • John P

    I saw one here in Evanston running across the road in front of me. It was all white with a black tip at the end of its tail. First time I have ever seen one in the wild.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Thanks for sharing that experience with us John. It is quite possible that you saw a stoat, also known as an ermine or short-tailed weasel. They tend to be more common and have the black tip on their tails. The least weasel is a bit smaller and usually has a very short tail with no black tip. Either way, it’s quite a treat to see one of these elusive animals in the wild. Unfortunately there is no limit to the amount that can be trapped and least weasels, although rare, are caught as non-target species frequently.

  • Tim C Pippin

    Walking around Independence Rock today. A dead rabbit right next to the trail had a solid dark brown weasel next to it. Rabbit appeared larger than the weasel. The weasel ran off under a rock about 10 feet from me. When I walked back past the same area, the rabbit was gone. Obviously the weasel had dragged off the rabbit.
    Had never seen this dark brown weasel.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      Were you able to snap a photo?

  • Scott D Drumm

    Today Riverside Wy on my four wheeler, saw a red and white little critter running into the culvert by the old smelter, looking like a weasel, I stopped and watched it scooch real quick.. Thought it was rather peculiar. But yup a weasel, I’ve been in and around all over Encampment and Riverside for two years , never saw the likes until today.

    • Wyoming Untrapped

      If you are in the area again, would you keep a camera on hand? Thanks for sharing!

  • Ethne Damm

    There was one at the public fishing access on Swimming Pool road in Etna (Star Valley). Saw it 7/12/17. Sorry no picture.

    • Kristin Combs

      Ethne, thank you for your reported sighting of a least weasel in Etna. We will be down that way on Wednesday and would love to see the area where it was seen. Can you describe in more detail exactly where it was located including what time of day? There are three types of weasel in Western Wyoming; the least weasel, long-tailed weasel, and short-tailed weasel. The long and short-tailed weasels are fairly common, with the least weasel being quite rare. Where there specific markings to alert you to the fact that it was a least weasel and not one of the other two?

  • Katy Graves

    I just saw a least weasel in my backyard today. I was playing on my trampoline with my son and I heard this squeaking sound pretty loud. I looked towards my garage and saw a small rabbit and this weasel was wrapped around it. It dragged it under the garage where there is a cleared area. I then saw it again when my dog came to sniff around. It came out onto a gate so I was able to see it quite clearly. I live in Burlington by the river near the Meeteetse line and Roach Gulch reservoir.

    • Kristin Combs

      Thanks for the information Katy. These little guys are quite the voracious little predators so it doesn’t surprise us that it had captured a rabbit. We will pass this information along to the proper authorities and let you know if we need additional information.

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