Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 2°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Hopes polecat will be found in county

12:00 10 January 2014

Polecat by Frank Greenaway

Polecat by Frank Greenaway

Experts hope a new study will reveal the polecat has returned to Suffolk for the first time in more than 100 years.

shares
The polecat, which was once teetering on the brink of extinction, may have returned to SuffolkThe polecat, which was once teetering on the brink of extinction, may have returned to Suffolk

Trapped to extinction during the 19th Century, the polecat has been absent from lowland Britain ever since.

But a national survey has now been launched to see if the animal has continued to spread east after studies in 2004-2006 showed the polecat had moved from the Welsh borders to re-colonise central and southern England.

Lizzie Croose, projects support officer at the Vincent Wildlife Trust, who is co-ordinating the survey, said the trust also hopes people’s reports will build up a picture of hybridisation between polecats and feral ferrets.

Ms Croose explained: “It’s the third national survey that we have done, we did one in the 1990s and one between 2004 and 2006.

“Polecats became very rare in the early 20th Century and became confined to central Wales and the Welsh/English borders. Since the middle of the last century they have been recovering and spreading eastwards. They have come back into England and are re-colonising a lot of central and southern England.”

She added: “We would expect from this survey that polecats would have continued to spread eastwards and we would expect to get records from East Anglia and Suffolk where they haven’t really been recorded before. But obviously until we get the records we won’t know for sure.”

Polecats, like other native carnivores such as pine marten and wild cat, suffered persecution from game keepers due to fears they would predate on poultry, game birds and eggs.

Ms Croose said: “Especially during the heyday of the Victorian game estates they were really hammered.”

As part of the survey, which is running from 2014-2015, people are being asked to send in their sightings of polecats and feral ferrets – the domesticated descendent of the polecat.

She added: “The survey has two aims really. The first is to gather up-to -date information on the current distribution of polecats and see where they have spread to.

The second is to look at this hybridisation between polecats and
ferrets.”

Hybrids are often found towards the edges of the “pure” polecat range, in areas like East Anglia. They can be distinguished from polecats by their pelage.

“Most of the records we have tend to be of animals that are killed on roads so in these cases we are asking people to take pictures so we can distinguish it as a polecat or a polecat ferret,” said Ms Croose. “We are also asking people, if they can, to send us carcasses if they come across them in the road. These will be used for genetic analysis to investigate hybridisation.”

The physical examination of livers will also be used to see if polecats are being affected by the poisoning of rats around farms. Ms Croose said: “We want to look at how their expanding range might be impacting on them coming into contact with prey that has been poisoned.”

Julian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, previously said there had been “a couple” of definite records of wild polecat.

He added: “That’s great. It’s a return of a natural predator, which is suited to this landscape and was only lost because of persecution.

“There is no reason why they shouldn’t thrive and prosper again.”

More details about the survey, including where to send more information, can be found at www.vwt.org.uk.

shares

0 comments

High water at Felixstowe Ferry. Archive image. Photo: Stephen Squirrell/citizenside.com

Flood alerts are in place tonight along the Essex and Suffolk coastline.

The BP garage on the A134 in Sudbury has been ram raided in the early hours. Reports suggest the ATM has been removed.

A cash machine has been stolen in a ram raid at a petrol station in Sudbury in the early hours of this morning.

An artist's impression of the street scene at Wolsey Grange.

A rejected bid to create almost 500 homes on land near Ipswich is to be reconsidered – following allegations a district councillor was handed a note during the original hearing.


A trolley bus at the junction of Duke Street (right) and Fore Hamlet (behind the bus) in April 1963. (Photo by Alan Valentine).

It is more than 50 years since the last trolley bus service ran on the streets of Ipswich, writes David Kindred.

The Beehive pub in Horringer.

Campaigners in west Suffolk are hoping to raise £200,000 to save their local pub.

The Cherry Tree Inn, in Blackenheath, Colchester, was given a 'one' rating on 6 November 2015

Food safety officers have urged the owners of 28 catering businesses in Colchester to improve their hygiene standards following the most recent round of inspections.

Essex MP Simon Burns with US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

It only seems like yesterday that President Obama was seeking re-election for a second term in office and yet four years on the United States is embroiled in yet another Presidential election to find his successor in the Oval Office.

Most read

Fred Olsen Travel Sale

cover

Click here to view
the Fred Olsen
Travel Sale

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24