The stoat (Mustela erminea) is a small carnivore that belongs to the Mustelid (Weasel) family of mammals, meaning that its closest relatives in Ireland are the pine marten, badger, otter and the introduced American mink. Other relatives include the domesticated ferret and weasels (which do not occur in Ireland, although stoats are often called “weasels” in Ireland). Stoats in Ireland (and the Isle of Man) are together recognised as a distinct subspecies from stoats in mainland Europe and Great Britain, probably because they have been isolated in Ireland for thousands of years, throughout the last Ice Age. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as the “Irish stoat” (Mustela erminea hibernica)
Despite its status as one of Ireland’s oldest mammalian inhabitants, the stoat has been little studied in Ireland so far. In particular, we know very little about its distribution and population size in Ireland; to date, only one radio tracking survey and one hair-tube survey have been carried out. For more information on the Irish stoat, read this account by Paddy Sleeman, and download an information leaflet by The Vincent Wildlife Trust
The MISE Project in Ireland is currently trialing the hair tube method to gather data on the distribution of stoats in Co. Waterford. This method was used successfully by the Vincent Wildlife Trust in Co. Galway in 2010 (see here for a report), and a similar MISE Project survey is ongoing in Wales.
If you are interested in helping with this survey of stoats in Waterford, please contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 086-4135544.