I had just pulled out of Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area in Bolton, when something on the side of the road caught my eye. “A weasel on the road – let’s get it,” I exclaimed, excited by the prospect of scientific discovery.
Making my way safely back on the busy road, my husband asked me, “Why do you want to pick it up?” I replied, “It’s not often you see a dead weasel in decent condition for scientific analysis and I can record this on the roadkill website for Mass Wildlife.”
While I’m sure his eyes rolled, all he asked was if I had a plastic bag for the carcass. After pulling off the road and flicking on the hazard lights, I grabbed my gloves and a plastic bag, hustled up to the carcass and placed it carefully in the bag. It was a male weasel with a slightly flattened skull, but the rest of the animal was in good condition. At home, I laid it out in the garage and took a few images with a ruler in place.
There are two species of weasels in Massachusetts, the Long-tailed weasel and the Short-tailed weasel. The ruler helped determine which kind of weasel I had collected. Both species are common and are often referred to as ermine when in their white winter coats. Though often found in Massachusetts, weasels are not always seen.
After wrapping the weasel securely in the bag and placing it in a small cooler with an ice pack, my last action was to visit the Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife website. This website is part of a long-term collaboration by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Transportation to minimize the impact of the existing road network on rare and non-game wildlife, while improving highway safety.
Part of the effort involves data collection about wildlife on roads. Interested citizens can submit their observations of wildlife in three categories: general wildlife roadkills, amphibian migrations to temporary spring pools and turtle crossing hotspots.
It’s easy to submit the information for the general wildlife roadkills: give your name and email address, click on a Google map to record the exact location, identify the animal in the list given or – if it’s not there like the weasel I found – provide the information in the Comment box, hit the Submit button and you’ve just made a contribution to wildlife science! With the warm weather coming and spring rains, it’s a great time to watch for salamanders, frogs and other amphibians crossing roads to spawn in vernal pools. So find some crossings and submit the data to the website but be sure of your safety on the roads.
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April posted on May 14
A lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Photo by David Cawston April’s contest winner was David Cawston who photographed a spring lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. The Cummings School of …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Apr 23
Girard’s Sugarhouse in Heath, MA. The sugarhouse was built in 1887 and produces around 250-300 gallons of syrup annually. Photo by Michael Girard March’s contest winner was Michael Girard who photographed his family’s sugarhouse in Heath. Michael Girard has been a sugarmaker since 1961 when he …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25
February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton. This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February