Once in 26 years was enough by Ronnie James

Long-tailed weasel

Pop Goes the Weasel

At Point Cabrillo Light Station a few years ago, I, and a steady stream of tourists, watched one Long-tailed weasel consume an entire family of gophers. Gopher holes are connected underground and our lighthouse weasel spent over an hour--undisturbed by the audience--popping out of first one hole then another. I can also personally attest that nothing scares a weasel. I had one in my yard some years back, and watched him/her keep five cats at bay, circling, snapping, and charging them until they threw up their paws and withdrew.

As an aside, here on the Mendocino Coast gophers are the ban of every gardener, but we might well be speaking Russian if it weren't for them. They made farming so miserable for early Russian settlers that they gave up and left, but not before they wiped out the sea otters as far south as Big Sur. Sea otter recovery, from the small population discovered there a few decades ago, has been slow and to date only reaches as far north as the Farallons.

LTW in their northern range turn white
in the winter.

Weasel Rescue by Ronnie James

Someone found a small ball of fur curled into a tight ball sleeping on the sand in the middle of a vast beach south of Mendocino. It slept peacefully when they picked it up, so they took it to a State Park ranger who called us. This was Woodlands Wildlife's first long tailed weasel in 26 years, so I spoke with a friend at a large facility that was experienced with weasels. Interestingly I learned that most weasels that come into rehab are found this way--curled in a ball asleep in an exposed place. Some can be handled and don't wake up. If they do, they just look around and go back to sleep. However, within a few minutes, of being fed and watered, they turn into killing machines. In spite of their diminutive size they possess large strong jaws and rows of shark-like teeth which they use to bite and viciously attack anything in range.

I gave it some water and food, then watched in amazement as the docile creature lunged at and tried to attack anything near its cage--my hand and the forceps I use to push the food into it's cage, and it grabbed and tore apart the paper cup I tipped through the bars to pour water into its dish. It even spread the fairly heavy wire bars on it's cage, but fortunately not enough to get out. Then it chewed a clothespin to smithereens and went back to sleep.

I am finally understanding the story in my book about the woman who raised one as a pet and when it was a few months old, it was sleeping in her lap and suddenly leaped up and tore a big gash in her hand requiring a trip to the emergency room and stitches. It probably went through puberty while it was asleep on her lap and woke up a normal adult weasel. I was able to keep weasel in the cage for 2 days during which time this 8-inch-body-plus-5-inch-tail ate 4 adult mice (already purchased dead and frozen from a wildlife food provider) each day. He also used a litter pan (pie plate) and the room began to smell a lot like dead skunk. Weasels are members of the skunk family. I wasn't going to get into the cage to clean him, and he certainly had enough energy to be out killing his own food, so I released him near a meadow and stream with lots of mice and gophers to hunt. There's one animal I won't mind not seeing for another 26 years. --Ronnie James

Ronnie James
Woodlands Wildlife

To learn more about our local Long-tailed Weasel and for great pictures of them, follow this link.

Victory for Chimpanzees!

This week, the National Institutes of Health made their final determination regarding the future of using chimpanzees in research.  After going through the 13,000 individual comments that were submitted during the public comment period this spring, the NIH has decided to significantly reduce the number of chimpanzees in research.  A little over 300 NIH-owned chimpanzees will be released and up for retirement in the coming years.  The Center for Great Apes applauds this decision that is definitely a step in the right direction.  We look forward to continue to work with the sanctuary community to get ALL chimpanzees out of research.  
However, the NIH plans to keep 50 chimpanzees behind for future research needs.  They are not allowed to breed these individuals, and must meet the newly accepted recommendations set out by the Council of Councils Working Group such as space requirements, “ethologically appropriate” enclosures (i.e. those that would occur in natural surroundings), etc.  You can read more about the NIH’s decision here: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2013/od-26.htm
Pant hoots to the beginning of the end of chimpanzees in research!

Toddy with her Wubba toy
Address postal inquiries to:
Center for Great Apes
PO Box 488
Wauchula, FL 33873-0488
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