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Ermine sightings reported locally

Tim Savage snapped this photo of an ermine outside his camp in Stark recently. The small weasel with a white coat frequents chicken coops and occasionally gains entry to older homes but should not be approached despite it’s deceptively attractive appearance. (click for larger version)
January 12, 2011
LANCASTER – Tom McCorkhill, owner of the Applebrook Inn in Jefferson, said that an ermine got trapped in his bathroom recently, topping off a spate of ermine intrusions and sightings throughout the North Country.

McCorkhill said that it was the first time one had ever gotten into his house, however he'd noticed them before in a rock wall behind his home. The night that the ermine got in, McCorkhill had stayed up late to watch a movie. He felt something brush against his foot and looked down to see the ermine, which he described as being "cute". McCorkhill's dog cornered the ermine in his upstairs bathroom in the shower. There was a slider door near that bathroom, so McCorkhill opened the door and the ermine ran outside.

The ermine was smaller than the ones McCorkhill had seen in the wall behind his house. He said that with a house as old as his – one of the first homes built in Jefferson – there are occasional critters that get inside.

The weasels plague chicken coops and have a propensity for hunting mice and small game. This leads them into homes on occasion. According to Patrick Tate with New Hampshire Fish and Game, homes with stone foundations are more susceptible to ermine invasions than others.

Tate said Fish and Game hasn't received any reports this year of ermines in homes, but it is not uncommon for an ermine in pursuit of food to get inside a home. Tate said that in the North Country, there are more calls about ermines than there are in the southern part of the state, although overall, more animal nuisance complaints come into Fish and Game from the southern part of the state, making ermine endemic to North Country homes.

When there is an ermine in your home, Tate said that it is best to get rid of what the ermine is pursuing and seal up the holes, but do not approach the ermine. Ermines may seem cute, but they will bite and the bite can pass on disease.

People with ermines in their homes can call Fish and Game, however, Fish and Game will not remove the vermin. They will instead refer the caller to a wildlife control operator who will trap and remove the rodent.

Not everyone finds the presence of the weasels to be a nuisance. Tim Savage who has a camp in Stark said that his encounters with the animals have been positive. Savage said that recently he saw a pine marten in his woodpile, the first pine marten he has ever seen in his life. Unlike the ermine, which Savage says he sees quite often, the marten was a rare find.

Savage said the pine marten stuck around for four days and was rather friendly, coming right onto his porch. The pine marten originally came for leftovers that Savage had put in his fire pit. Savage said that none of the animals have come in his house thus far.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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