An ermine, or weasel, pops up to say hi to some Vernon walkers recently. (Carmen Tamas)

An ermine, or weasel, pops up to say hi to some Vernon walkers recently. (Carmen Tamas)

Weasels keep Vernon mouse population under control

‘Cute’ little carnivores can be a problem if you have chickens, but great for rodent management

They might be ‘cute’ but don’t let those big eyes weasel you, these animals are fearless.

The recent sighting of a white ermine, or weasel, in Vernon drew a lot of attention on social media.

Carmen Tamas saw the little animal pop up on its hind legs while she was out for a walk. She managed to capture a photo of the creature and posted it to Facebook’s Hell Yeah Vernon page, which drew questions of what it was.

“We were walking on the bike path in Coldstream, the narrow part just coming up to Palfrey Drive,” Tamas said. “It came out from under a fallen down fence panel. Our dogs and us watched for a good 3 minutes . It came out from under there and then stood up and curiously looked at us. Really cool experience.”

While she had neer seen one before, there are lots of the ermine in the area, according to urban wildlife expert Pete Wise.

“We have three species of these guys in the province,” Wise said.

Some people may have spotted brown ones in the summer, as their coats change colour between the seasons and are white in the winter.

A member of the weasel clan, the ermine is relative to wolverines badger, fisher and Martin, hence their aggressive behaviour.

“It’s not something you would want to grab they will bite and are totally fearless,” Wise warns. Although he has fed them sitting on his knee, which he called. “very cool.”

The creatures are handy at keeping some other pests under control.

“They can be a bit of a problem with chickens but on a whole they are very beneficial especially if you have a mouse problem,” according to Wise.

They range in size from about eight to 14 inches and if you sit still long enough in an area where their tracks are, you might see one.

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