Short Tailed Weasel Hunting Sign

Vole Tracks, Vole Gallop, Vole Trot

Above is the trail of a vole moving toward the camera from a gallop to a trot.  This is most likely a Meadow Vole.  Many voles travel by trotting about, speeding up when feeling vulnerable which I am sure this animal did. Voles much prefer moving about under the snow, for some reason on this day we saw many tracks on the surface of the golf course where these picture were taken.

 

Short Tailed Weasel Hunting Sign

Not far away we spotted this unique disturbance in the beautiful snow.  From a distance I suspected an owl or hawk had pounced on a vole or mouse under the snow (in the subnivian layer) which would explain the lack of tracks coming from or going to this sign of life and death struggle.

Mustela erminea

On closer approach no feather marks or bird tracks, only marks of a violent struggle and a lot of blood for a little creature to loose.  Short-tailed Weasels, also known as Ermines are energetic predators who are so slight of build they can hunt in the snow tunnels of voles and mice, in this case chasing one to the surface to kill it.  One can see tail marks at the edges of the disturbance and obscure footprints inside of it (below).

Ermine Hunting Vole Sign

We found further evidence of a small weasels presence in the area about a hundred yards away in the tracks below.  A classic 2 by 2 lope with a tiny trail width (smallest measure was 1 1/4 inch wide, most 1 1/2, tracks 3/4 or less wide)

Short Tailed Weasel Tracks Short-tailed Weasel bound

 

What a cool and amazing thing to see.

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