The North Carolina Trappers Association provided $1,000 through the Furbearer Research Grant program to help purchase the bait, supplies, and cover travel expenses for the North Carolina State University student conducting the research.
The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of baited-tube camera traps to detect weasels in North Carolina. The study also increased our knowledge of the proper tools needed to determine the distribution and abundance of weasels. As an attractant, 10 x 30 cm tubes staked into the ground were baited with raw chicken liver and Caven Gusto’s scent lure ~1m from a camera trap. Cameras were placed in suitable habitat (dense cover) in six game lands in North Carolina, aiming for 20 sites per game land. Results found no weasels at four game lands, but did obtain one long-tailed weasel (M. frenata) detection at South Mountain Game Lands and Pisgah Game Lands. Other species detected regularly includef Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), and Northern raccoon (Procyon lotor). The results of this study will evaluate the effectiveness of baited-tubes cameras to detect weasels in the region and contribute to our understanding about the distribution and abundance of weasels in North Carolina.
There are two species of weasels present in North Carolina, the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) and the long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata). Long-tailed weasels are believed to be statewide. Least-weasels are believed to be in the higher elevation portion of the mountains. Despite a statewide presence, there are few confirmed records of weasels in North Carolina. The Museum of Natural Sciences only has 72 records of weasels with only 3 occurring after 2000. Since 1990, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission has 25 records of weasels in the state. The North Carolina Candid Critter project, which has placed more than 8000 cameras throughout the state, has only detected 4 weasels. Unbaited camera traps are likely not effective at detecting weasels. Weasels are rarely observed in the southeastern USA and it is unknown if this is because they are rare, cryptic, in decline, or difficult to survey. However, the lack of detections on the NC Candid Critter may also be due to camera placement and camera brand used on this project. Baited cameras may be needed to detect weasels in an area, as well as increase the ability of the camera to detect the weasel.