Black footed Ferrets and Long tailed Weasels – RFI

I should hopefully be in the US for a week in mid April. I’m planning to spend a couple of days around Idaho (with Matt Miller) and then probably 2 or 3 in Yellowstone and then a couple more near LA (but I might go instead to Arizona). Does anyone know any reliable spots for Ferrets or Long-tailed Weasels in those states or the general vicinity (general = < 400 miles)?

I'd also love to see a Lynx or a Fisher but I suspect this will be considerably more difficult…..




  • Greg Easton

    Let me know when you and Matt are getting together in Idaho, I live in Nampa (20 minutes from Boise) and would be happy to join you if my schedule allows…I saw a weasel while hiking in Yellowstone last August on the Pelican Valley hike, but it was only a quick glimpse. I saw a Lynx last summer in Denali National Park, but have never seen one in Idaho…

  • Alan Dahl

    Jon, I know a lot about the Yellowstone area. While we have seen pine martins there on two occasions, I know of no reliable location. Although both were at higher wooded elevations. Lynx are extremely rare in Yellowstone. I know of only two sightings in the past 5 years. However, if you need any Yellowstone tips, feel free to contact me.

    • Jon Hall

      Alan – thanks very much. Two species there that I would like to see are Richardson’s Ground Squirrels (I will probably fly to Jackson and stay in Gardiner Montana… how close do they come to there do you know) and Uinta Chipmunks. Do you have any good sites for them?


  • Curtis Hart

    I think I’ve already told you the info for Black-footed Ferrets outside of Seligman AZ, but if you want more details, let me know. As far as your other targets, I think you’ll need luck. I know people who have worked on Fisher Projects in the west, and have never seen one. I’ve lived within the range of Long-tailed Weasels my whole life and have only seen them at one den site in Montana, which was not in use last summer. I have seen 2 or 3 DOR weasels on the CA coastal road south of San Luis de Obispo.
    It’s a stretch for in the area, but Glacier NP has 3 of your 4 targets. My cousin is a ranger there and has seen all of those along with wolverines. It would still take a lot of luck, and winter hiking.

    Good luck,

    Curtis Hart

    • Jon Hall

      Thanks very much to all of you.

      Greg – will let you know once my trip is sorted out.

      Alan – thanks. I will contact you about Yellowstone soon,

      Curtis – I don’t think I will have the time to get to Glacier unfortunately though it did cross my mind (was that where the den sight was for LT Weasels that you mentioned?). But I am planning to contact Kevin Smith about Seligman to see if I can visit.



      • Curtis Hart

        Kevin does know more about Seligman than I do, but he is currently working with White-tails, Black Bears, and the occasional Wolf in the western UP. Last I knew he didn’t know where he’ll be in April. The Seligman site was open to the public last I knew. We just filled out the required paperwork at the self check in station and went in. I would rent something with a little more clearance than the average rental car. A small truck would do nicely.

        The den site for LT Weasels was in Glacier. It was on the side of the trail that goes up from the Logan’s Pass Visitor Center, Hidden Lake Trail I beleive. The road will not be open that far in April. Morgan’s idea may also work for scree slopes with a lot of pika and ground squirrels. I’ve heard of a couple people seeing them that way.

        Curtis Hart

    • Jon Hall

      Thanks very much Curtis – can you give me some more information on this ranch? Its location, how to get in etc?


  • Morgan Churchill

    for long-tailed Weasels, one strategy would be to stake out a prairie-dog colony. They tend to be frequented by weasels (and badgers). I have not personally tried this strategy, all my weasels have been seen through luck. However I know of birders who regularly see them in prairie-dog towns, so probably not a bad strategy.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    The best sites for ltw are high passes, but these will be closed in April. If you find one that goes into tundra and is already open, scan the slopes for black tail tips 🙂
    I spent a whole summer watching prairie dogs but never saw a ltw in or near a colony.
    Badlands NP is good for bff, but that’s a bit far away.
    Fishers and lynxes are much easier in Canada – I can give you good locations next time you go there.
    There are some incredibly tame badgers in Lamar Valley, by the way.
    In LA area, check out Carrizo Plain: kit foxes and giant kang rats are easy at night (just keep driving up and down the main road). And don’t miss the grunion run.

    • John Fox


      Let me add my thanks for the tip about Carrizo Plain.

      Their mammal checklist at

      says Giant, San Juaquin Valley/Short-nosed (D. nitratoides), and Heermann’s K rats are common.

      Could you give some more information on Fishers and Lynx in Canada? Getting around in the US/Canada is incredibly easy and I’d like to have some, or almost any, idea where a good mammal twitch might be.



      • Jon Hall


        Northern Maine seems the best area for Fishers so far as I know, but I have never seen one anywhere. Lynx are pertty spare but Quebec might be a good place to look. They were very common in Denali last year because of the Snowshoe Hare peak but numbers have probably crashed this year. However, you could check with the park authorities. Let me know if you find anything out because I’d love to see one.


  • Curtis Hart

    The entrance is on 66 on the right NW of Seligman. I think it is called The Boquillas. Pica Camp rd is the entrance, although it may not be labled that. There is a small sigh on the gate that says something about the gate being open to the public. You have to get out to open and shut two or three gates before you get to the check in station, which is relatively obvious. The ranch is quite large. The area we searched was a square with the corners being the ranch house, the entrance to the pass into the hills and a large water tank. All of this is visible from Google Earth. The ferret we found was quite curious and allowed it to get good looks at it while going in and out of a hole. It may pay off to get there early and scout out some prairie dog towns, so you’ll know where to look at night.
    The day I spent here was the best mammal watching I’ve had in North America. We saw 14 species that day, 12 of them on the ranch. That was purely from driving and spot lighting, no trapping.

    Good Luck,

    Curtis Hart

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