Reader letter: It’s official, polecats are back in Norfolk

Polecat (Picture: PA)

Polecat (Picture: PA) - Credit: PA

An EDP reader recently asked whether the polecat had made a reappearance in Norfolk naturally...

Polecats have been expanding their range from the west of the country over the past few years and have indeed now colonised Norfolk.

As mammal recorder for Norfolk I have received numerous reports in recent years of polecats or polecat-ferret hybrids. Around 2010 the first polecats were noted in the Thetford area, however, the first live confirmation of a 'true' polecat came when one was trapped at South Lopham and Redgrave Fen in 2014, although there had been earlier instances of road casualties.

Since 2014 the number of sightings of both polecats and hybrids have increased, although for the last two years 'true' polecat reports seem to outnumber the hybrids. There have been many road casualties throughout the county but also reports of polecats seen hunting in daylight and family parties.

Earlier this month six kits were observed in a garden south of Norwich and a polecat was noted hunting rabbits at Weybourne in daylight, which probably means there were young in the vicinity. From this evidence I think we can say that the polecat has returned and has established itself within the county.

Each year mammal sightings are collated and published in the 'Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report' and the 2016 report will be published this autumn by the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists' Society. This will be a special 60th edition with distribution maps covering mammal sightings from 2000 to 2016.

If readers would like to contribute to the 2017 report please visit the website where they can find details and a downloadable recording form.

Francis Farrow,

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Norfolk Mammal Recorder, Havelock Road, Sheringham.