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Distribution of the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) in the Southeastern United States
Donald W. Linzey and M. Kevin Hamed

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 15, Issue 2 (2016): 243–258

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Southeastern Naturalist 243 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 22001166 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 1V5o(2l.) :1254,3 N–2o5. 82 Distribution of the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) in the Southeastern United States Donald W. Linzey1,* and M. Kevin Hamed2 Abstract - Mustela nivalis (Least Weasel) reaches the southernmost portion of its North American range in the Appalachian Mountains. Throughout its southern range, the Least Weasel is considered rare or uncommon. We suggest that the current designation might underestimate the population due to a lack of records and limited knowledge of its distribution. We compiled Least Weasel records from the 7 southern-most states (Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) in the Appalachian region. We searched museum/university collections, state agency databases, and contacted small colleges to locate specimens in teaching collections. Additionally, we implemented a citizen-science project to alert cat owners of the potential for cat-killed Least Weasel specimens and explained how to report these specimens. For all specimens, we attempted to determine the method of capture. The Least Weasel appears to be more abundant and widely distributed than previously documented. We identified 133 Least Weasel specimens; the greatest number (30) from Tennessee. For many states, we more than doubled the number of previous records. We determined a collection method for 83 specimens, the most common of which were cat and dog captures/kills (37% of specimens) and trapping (30%). Citizen scientists contributed 7 new records from eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. We feel this approach has the potential to discover many future specimens. Introduction Mustela nivalis L. (Least Weasel) is the smallest carnivore in North America, and typically preys on mice, voles, and other small mammals (Sheffield and King 1994). Rangewide, the Least Weasel is primarily a northern species with a circumboreal distribution. Its range in North America extends from Alaska throughout mainland Canada, south to Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky (Sheffield and King 1994). The species reaches the southern limits of its North American range in the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania south to North Carolina, Tennessee, and northern Georgia (Lee et al. 1982, Linzey 1995). Although not recorded from South Carolina, the Least Weasel has been collected just 16 km from the South Carolina border (Barkalow 1967). Due to the paucity of records, the Least Weasel has always been considered rare in southern states. In Virginia, the Least Weasel was considered vulnerable due to low abundance (Handley 1991). The Least Weasel has also been granted state protection status of critically imperiled (S1) in Georgia, imperiled (S2) in North Carolina and Tennessee, imperiled/vulnerable (S2/3) in Kentucky and Maryland, and vulnerable (S3) in Virginia and West Virginia (Campbell et al. 2010, KDFWR 1Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, 154 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061. 2Virginia Highlands Community College, PO Box 828, Abingdon, VA 24212. *Corresponding author - dlinzey@vt.edu. Manuscript Editor: Michael Conner Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 244 2013, MDNR 2005, WVDNR 2005). Additionally, the Least Weasel is deemed “in need of management” in Maryland and as a “species of greatest conservation need” in Tennessee (MDNR 2005, TWRA 2005). Up-to-date records documenting distributions and abundances are essential for state wildlife agencies when state wildlife action plans are updated (Wilkinson et al. 2009). The most recent southern distribution for the Least Weasel was established from select museum and natural heritage records, but until our study, a comprehensive distribution for the Least Weasel had not been established (Campbell et al. 2010). State wildlife agencies and natural heritage divisions maintain databases of rare-species observations. However, some records lack definitive data such as specimens or photographs (NCNHP 2005, TNHP 2015). Additionally, small college and university teaching and museum collections often have rare specimens that are not always included in state agency or museum databases, and which are missed with traditional searches (Snow 2005). Citizen scientists occasionally photograph and/or obtain specimens of rare species, thus providing a valuable tool to update distributions of rare species (Dickinson et al. 2010, Losey et al. 2007). Beginning in the mid-1990s, we were contacted by citizen scientists, naturalists, and agricultural workers when Felis catus L. (Domestic Cats) captured and killed Least Weasels. We visited the landowner, identified the specimen, and often confirmed Least Weasel records. It became apparent that there were potentially many undocumented Least Weasel kills and records, especially due to kills by cats. The purpose of our research was to document all known Least Weasel specimens from 7 states (Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) in the southern portion of its range. We attempted to collect accompanying data (e.g., collection method, measurements, etc.) for each record. We also utilized a public awareness campaign to document cat-killed Least Weasels in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. Methods We searched natural history museum databases, including Vertnet (www.vertnet. org), to identify Least Weasel records that included a specimen (skin, skull, skeleton, whole body in ethanol, or frozen specimens; Table 1). We also contacted museums that were not indexed through online databases. We requested Least Weasel records from university and college museums and/or teaching collections (Table 1) within the states of our focus area. We also contacted state wildlife agencies and natural heritage programs to identify Least Weasel records. To maintain consistency, we established a protocol for determining record validity. We included Least Weasel records that were from (1) prior published accounts of collections that included a specimen; (2) museum records with a specimen available for examination, including specimens awaiting processing; (3) museum records that were previously recorded, but were no longer in collections; (4) skulls from Tyto alba (Scopoli) (Barn Owl) pellets; (5) photographs of specimens; (6) private collections of taxidermic specimens or skulls; and (7) living specimens. Knowledgeable professional and avocational scientists have recorded observations Southeastern Naturalist 245 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 that are most likely Least Weasels, but did not meet our criteria for a valid record and were excluded. We acknowledge that our method provides a conservative but definitive distribution for resource managers. For all records, we attempted to determine standard mammalian measurements (lengths: total, tail, hind foot, ear from notch; and mass), sex, collector, and current location of specimen or other definitive evidence (e.g., photographs). We also established 8 categories for collection method: (1) cat/dog kills or captures; (2) trapping that included live, museum, or lethal traps as well as hand collection; (3) Barn Owl pellets; (4) presumed vehicle mortality (DOR = dead on road); (5) accidental capture/kill (e.g., swimming pool, window wells); (6) photographic records (remote camera/pictures); (7) found, either dead without a known cause or alive; and (8) undetermined. In addition to past records, we created educational flyers to alert cat owners of potential cat-killed Least Weasels. We distributed flyers throughout northeastern Table 1. Museums, universities, and colleges from which we obtained specimen data for Least Weasels in the southern portion of its range. Museum acronyms follow Hafner et al. (1997), and we used the standard college or university abbreviation if an acronym had not been established for the institution’s collection. Museum/Institution Museum/Institution and location acronym AEL Museum of Appalachia Environmental Laboratory, Frostburg, MD APSU Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN BC Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA CM Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburg, PA DWL Donald W. Linzey, private collection, Blacksburg, VA EKU Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY ETSU East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN FSUMC Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD GRSM Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN HCC Haywood Community College, Clyde, NC LMU Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN MC Milligan College, Milligan College, TN MHP Fort Hayes State University Sternburg Museum of Natural History, Hays, KS MOSU Morehead State University, Morehead, KY MSB University of New Mexico Museum of Southwestern Biology, Albuquerque, NM MSUMC Murray State University, Murray, KY NCSM North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC OMNH Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman, OK SHEN Shenandoah National Park, Luray, VA UGAMNH University of Georgia Museum of Natural History, Athens, GA UM University of Memphis Mammal Collection, Memphis, TN USNM US National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC UTMZ University of Tennessee Museum of Zoology, Knoxville, TN UTFWF University of Tennessee Forestry, Wildlife, & Fisheries Teaching College, Knoxville, TN VCU Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA VHCC Virginia Highlands Community College, Abingdon, VA VMNH Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA VTMM Virginia Tech Mammal Museum, Blacksburg, VA VTTC Virginia Tech Teaching Collection, Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA WFUVC Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC WVU West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 246 Tennessee and southwestern Virginia beginning in 2003 and areas adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1997 and 2015. Local media also assisted in disseminating flyer information. Cat owners were asked to contact us if a suspected Least Weasel was captured/killed by their cat or dog. When notified by a cat owner, we visited each location to obtain the specimen and recorded the exact collection location, method of capture, and other pertinent data. We placed these specimens in our college/university collections or gave them to the appropriate museum or state agency. Results and Discussion The current investigation resulted in the discovery of 133 Least Weasel records from 7 southeastern states: Georgia (2), Kentucky (26), Maryland (5), North Carolina (22), Tennessee (30), Virginia (28), and West Virginia (20) (Table 2, Appendix 1). In most states, we documented more specimens than had been previously reported. The Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage had documented 10 records prior to our research; we added an additional 20 records. We also filtered out distributional records that were not supported by definitive evidence. For example, the historical record for Mitchell County, NC was based on the assumption of its presence because the Least Weasel had been documented a few km from the North Carolina state line in Tennessee (NCNHP 2015). However, this assumption led to the inclusion of Mitchell County in state distributional surveys (Lee et al. 1982). Therefore, our criteria remove potentially erroneous records to provide an accurate distribution for resource managers. We determined the collection method for 62% (83) of specimens, the most frequent of which were cat or dog kills (37%), trapping (30%), and Barn Owl pellets (12%) (Table 2). We acknowledge that collection methods might have been slightly biased for cat/dog kills due to our citizen-science effort, but even without our solicited records, we found that cats are a major source of Least Weasel specimens. We recorded sex for 73 specimens—37 females and 36 males. Individuals have been recorded from the coastal plain to near the summits of the highest elevations in the southern Appalachians. Statewide elevation ranges of collections (where known) are: Georgia (~550–607 m asl), Kentucky (~214–310 m asl), Maryland (695 m asl), Table 2. Method of collection for Least Weasel specimens in the southern portion (Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) of its range. DOR = dead on road. Barn State Cat/Dog Trapping Owl Accidental DOR Photograph Found Unknown Total Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 Kentucky 7 0 6 0 2 0 0 11 26 Maryland 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 5 North Carolina 4 7 1 3 2 0 3 2 22 Tennessee 17 4 2 0 1 1 1 4 30 Virginia 3 9 1 1 0 0 2 12 28 West Virginia 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 15 20 Total 31 25 10 4 5 1 7 50 133 Southeastern Naturalist 247 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 North Carolina (518–2032 m asl), Tennessee (366–1463 m asl), Virginia (~30–1165 m asl), and West Virginia (~850 m asl) (Appendix 1). We feel that citizen-science efforts were beneficial in obtaining Least Weasel records. Our flyers resulted in 6 new records from Tennessee as well as an additional record from southwestern Virginia obtained from cat/dog kills. In all cases, citizen scientists directly observed a flyer, news report, or were alerted to the project by someone who had seen the flyer. We feel a comprehensive citizen-science effort throughout the southern range of the Least Weasel has the potential to provide additional new accounts and identify previously unoccupied counties. College and university collections that we examined provided many specimens. Campbell et al. (2010) searched indexed university and museum collections to document 17 records from 5 states—1 in Georgia, 1 in Kentucky, 5 in North Carolina, 2 in Tennessee, and 8 in Virginia. We located an additional 37 records from the same states as those targeted by Campbell et al. (2010) that were housed in smaller college and university teaching/museum collections. Smaller college collections were not referenced in online databases and were absent from traditional searches, and we spent considerable time contacting each institution. The range of the Least Weasel appears discontinuous and local in distribution, but this result is likely an artifact of incomplete collection efforts (Fig. 1). The Figure 1. Confirmed Least Weasel records from the southeastern US. Records were based on published accounts, museum records, skulls from Barn Owl pellets, photographs, private collections, and living specimens. Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 248 species does not seem to prefer a specific habitat. Least Weasels have been found in forests as well as in a variety of disturbed habitats such as overgrown fields, pastures, hedgerows, and even in buildings (Sheffield and King 1994). Additional collection efforts will fill in gaps in distribution data. Data gathered from this investigation will provide conservation and governmental agencies with improved information on which to base decisions about future actions governing this species within their jurisdictions. Improved and modified techniques are needed to enhance our knowledge of the biology and distribution of the Least Weasel. Acknowledgments The authors wish to express their appreciation to N. Castleberry (UGAMNH); J.W. Coffey; J. Copeland (LMU); M. Crockett (Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy); K. Debose (Librarian, VT); T. Derting (MSU); J. Donaldson (ETSU); S. Dykes (TWRA); C. Elliott (EKU); D.J. Eisenhour (MOSU); B. Fitzpatrick (UTK); R. Gubler (SHEN); B. Hess, (NCSM); S. Hines (Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission); D. Holt; T. Johnstone-Yellin (BC); C. Kelly (NCWRC); M. Kennedy (UM); T.D. Lambert (AEL; FSU); T. Laughlin (ETSU); H. Legrand (NC Natural Heritage Program); J. Lynch, G. McConnell, and S. McLaren (CM); N. Moncrief (VMNH); L. Muller (UTFWF); B. Nichols (GRSM); S. Rabby (HCC); R. Reynolds (VADGIF); J. Rudy (VHCC); A.F. Scott (APSU); B.D. Sargent (WVDNR); C.J. Schmidt (MHP); D. Scott and C. Simpson (TWRA); P. Weigl (WFU); J. Tomcho (NCWRC); J.M. Wentworth (US Forest Service); and D. Withers (TN Natural Heritage) for providing data on specimens and observations. We thank W. Smith (UVa-Wise) for map assistance. Tennessee specimens were collected with approval of TWRA (permit #1888 issued to M.K. Hamed). Literature Cited Anderson, B.F. 1988. Occurrence of the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) in Cumberland County, Tennessee. Journal of Tennessee Academy of Science 63:82. Barkalow, F.S., Jr. 1967. Range extension and notes on the Least Weasel in North Carolina. Journal of Mammalogy 48:488. Bellows, A.S., J.F. Pagels, and J.C. Mitchell. 1999. First record of the Least Weasel, Mustela nivalis (Carnivora: Mustelidae) from the Coastal Plain of Virginia. Northeastern Naturalist 6:238–240. Bradshaw, W.N., and A.E. Gibbons. 1967. The recent mammals of Monongalia County, West Virginia. West Virginia Academy of Science 39:243–251. Brooks, A.B. 1929. Mammals of West Virginia. Pp. 536–45, In P. Conley (Ed.). The West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Publishing Company, Charleston, WV. 1052 pp. Campbell, J.W., M.T. Mengak, S.B. Castleberry, and J.D. Mejia. 2010. Distribution and status of uncommon mammals in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Southeastern Naturalist 9:275–302. Chapman, J.A., and D.M. Harman. 1977. The Least Weasel, Mustela nivalis, from Maryland. Proceedings of Pennsylvania Academy of Science. 51:91–92. Church, M.L. 1925. Mustela allegheniensis in North Carolina. Journal Mammalogy 6:281. Cooper, J.E., S.S. Robinson, and J.B. Funderburg (Eds.). 1977. Endangered and Threatened Plants and Animals of North Carolina. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC. 444 pp. Southeastern Naturalist 249 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 Copeland, J.E., and R.S. Caldwell. 1991. Prey consumed by Barn Owls, Tyto alba, in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Journal of Tennessee Academy of Science 66:29–30. Cushing, B.S., and F.M. Knight. 1991. Range extension and first reported female Least Weasel in Tennessee. Journal of Tennessee Academy of Science 66:12. David, P.G. 1988. Further distribution of Mustela nivalis in Kentucky. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 49:37. Davis, W.H., and R.W. Barbour. 1979. Distributional records of some Kentucky mammals. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 40:111. Derting, T.L. 1989. Prey selection and foraging characteristics of Least Weasels (Mustela nivalis) in the laboratory. American Midland Naturalist 122:394–400. Dickinson, J.L., B. Zuckerberg, and D.N. Bonter. 2010. Citizen science as an ecological research tool: Challenges and benefits. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 41:149–172. Edwards, M.G. 1963. Wildlife comes to the city. Wildlife in North Carolina 27:8–9. Grundman, W.J., and S.P. Hines. 1983. A survey of the vertebrate fauna of Big Yellow Mountain, North Carolina. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and The North Carolina Nature Conservancy. Asheville, NC. 81 pp. Hafner, M.S., W.L. Gannon, J. Salazar-Bravo, and S.T. Alvarez-Castaneda. 1997. Mammal collections in the western hemisphere: A survey and directory of existing collections. Special Publication of the American Society of Mammologists. Allen Press, Lawrence. KS. 97 pp. Handley, C.O., Jr. 1949. Least Weasel, prey of Barn Owl. Journal of Mammalogy 30:431. Handley, C.O., Jr. 1979. Mammals. Pp. 483–621, In D.W. Linzey (Ed.). Endangered and Threatened Plants and Animals of Virginia. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA. 665 pp. Handley, C.O., Jr. 1991. The Mammals. Pp. 539–616, In K. Terwilliger (Coordinator). Virginia’s Endangered Species. Proceedings of a symposium. McDonald & Woodward, Blacksburg, VA. 672 pp. Kennedy, M.L., and M.J. Harvey. 1980. Mammals. Pp. C1–C50, In E.D. Edgar and R.M. Hatcher (Eds.). Tennessee’s Rare Wildlife, Volume I, The Vertebrates. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Department of Conservation, Nashville, TN. 358 pp. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). 2013. Kentucky’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Frankfort, KY. Available online at http://fw.ky.gov/WAP/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed 7 April 2015. Lee, S.D., J.B. Funderburg Jr., and M.K. Clark. 1982. A distributional survey of North Carolina mammals. Occasional papers of the North Carolina Biological Survey 1982–10. Raleigh, NC. 70 pp. Linzey, D.W. 1995. Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, VA. 140 pp. Linzey, D.W. 1998. The Mammals of Virginia. The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, VA. 459 pp. Linzey, D.W., M.J. Harvey, E.B. Pivorun, and C.B. Brecht. 2002. Significant new mammal records from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee–North Carolina. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science 118:91–96. Llewellyn, L.M. 1942. Notes on the Alleghenian Least Weasel in Virginia. Journal of Mammalogy 23:439–441. Losey, J.E., J.E. Perlman, and E.R. Hoebeke. 2007. Citizen scientist rediscovers rare NineSoutheastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 250 spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella novemnotata, in eastern North America. Journal of Insect Conservation 11:415–417. Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). 2005. Maryland Wildlife Diversity Conservation Plan. Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Services, Annapolis, MD. Available online at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/ WLDP/divplan_final.asp. Accessed 7 April 2015. Meade, L. 1992. New distributional records for selected species of Kentucky mammals. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 53:127–132. Nagel, J.W. 1972. Observations of the second record of the Least Weasel in Tennessee. American Midland Naturalist 87:553. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program (NCNHP). 2005. Mustela nivalis occurrence report. North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Raleigh, NC. Patton, C.P. 1939. Distribution notes on certain Virginia mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 23:439–441. Prather, K.W. 1984. New distributional record for Mustela nivalis in Kentucky. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 45:76. Roble, S.M., and C.S. Hobson. 2000. Previously overlooked records of the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) from Virginia. Banisteria 16:49–50. Sheffield, S.R., and C.M. King. 1994. Mustela nivalis. Mammalian Species 454:1–10. Smith, C.R., J. Giles, M.E. Richmond, J. Nagel, and D.W. Yambert. 1974. The mammals of northeastern Tennessee. Journal of Tennessee Academy of Science 49:88–94. Snow, N. 2005. Successfully curating smaller herbaria and natural history collections in academic settings. BioScience 55:771–779. Stupka, A. 1960. Second specimen of Least Weasel from North Carolina. Journal of Mammalogy 41:519–520. Tennessee Natural Heritage Program (TNHP). 2015. Mustela nivalis occurrence report. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Nashville, TN. Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA). 2005. Tennessee’s comprehensive Wildlife conservation strategy. TWRA Wildlife Technical Report 05-08: Nashville, TN. Available online at http://www.state.tn.us/twra/cwcs/tncwcs2005.pdf. Accessed 7 April 2015. Tuttle, M.D. 1968. First Tennessee record of Mustela nivalis. Journal of Mammalogy 49:133. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). 2005. West Virginia wildlife action plan. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section, Charlestown, WV. Available online at http://www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/PDFFiles/wvwcap. pdf. Accessed 7 April 2015. Wilkinson, J.B., J.M. McElfish Jr., R. Kihslinger, R. Bendick, and B.A. McKenney. 2009. The next generation of mitigation: Linking current and future mitigation programs with state wildlife action plans and other state and regional plans. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 66 pp. Southeastern Naturalist 251 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 Appendix 1. Annotated list of specimens by state. Counties are listed alphabetically by state with dates of collection arranged chronologically within a county when 2 or more records are present. For each specimen, the following information, when known, is given in the order listed: location; elevation; date of collection; sex; standard mammalian measurements (again, listed in order or presentation: lengths [mm]—total, tail, hind foot, and ear from notch—and mass [g]); collector; present specimen or evidence location and (type); and collection method. If some but not all of measurements were recorded, a “-” is used as a placeholder for each missing measurement data to clarify which measurements are presented. DOR = dead on road. College, university, and museum abbreviations are listed in Table 1. GEORGIA Two specimens (1 female, 1 male) have been recorded from Georgia. These specimens currently represent the southern limit of the known range for this species. Fannin County 1. Epworth; 607 m; 1992 or 1993; female; 162; 22; 19; -; 26; Collector: F.T. Petty; APSU #1005; (skin, skull). Union County 1. Blairsville, Lake Nottley; ~550 m; 2 June 1997; male; 186; 26; 23; 10; 62.4; Collector: O. Cash; UGAMNH #23585 (skin, skull, skeleton). KENTUCKY The first recorded occurrence of the Least Weasel in Kentucky was from a cat kill in Letcher County in February 1976 (Davis and Barbour 1979). A total of 25 specimens (4 females, 7 males, and 14 sex unknown) are currently known from the state. Bourbon County 1. 4 May 1993; EKU teaching collection (skull); cat kill. 2. Shawhan; 23 March 2002; Collector: S. Hines, KSNPC (Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission); cat capture and released. 3. Shawhan; 25 July 2011; Collector: S. Hines, KSNPC (photograph); cat kill. Calloway County 1. 2001; male; 240; 28; 18; -; -; MSUMC Teaching Collection (skin); DOR. Clark County 1. Winchester; 305 m; 1 April 1999; KSNPC #5103; cat kill. Elliott County 1. Newfoundland; ~262 m; 1985; male; 188; 31; 23; 9; 41.1; Collectors: S. Lupton and Z. Kassin; MOSU #533 (skin); (Meade 1992). Fayette County 1. Spindletop; 276 m; 25 September 1987; male; 170; 23; 18; 10; -; Collector: W.H. Davis; CM #88985 (skin, skull). 2. Lexington; 297 m; 21 December 1994; male; MHP #31763 (skeleton); cat kill. Fleming County 1. Ringos Mills; female; 146; -; -; -; -; Collector L. Meade; MOSU teaching collection (specimen in ethanol); (Meade 1992). Harrison County 1. Reported in Meade (1992). Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 252 Letcher County 1. Hwy. 7; 310 m; February 1976; male; 182; 30; 21; -; 39.25; Collector: B. Asher; NCSM#16308 (skeleton); cat kill (Davis and Barbour 1979). Lewis County 1. Camp Dix; ~214 m; December pre-1992; female; 170; 35; 20; 8; 35.3; Collector: L. Meade; MOSU #1262 (skeleton); (Meade 1992). Madison County 1–5. Richmond; February 1983; Collector: P.G. David; (skulls); Barn Owl pellets (David 1988). 6. Richmond; 280 m; February 1983; Collector: P.G. David; (skulls); Barn Owl pellets (David 1988). 7. Blue Grass Army Depot; 274 m; June 1993; Collector: C. Elliott; EKU teaching collection (skull); DOR. Nicholas County 1. North-Central 4-H Camp; Collector: J. Lynn; reported in Meade (1992). Owen County 1. Reported in Meade (1992). Rowan County 1. Clay Lick Boat Ramp; 236 m; 4 January 1983; female; 115; 20; 17; 7; 19.5; Collectors: G. Eldridge and M. Dunaway MOSU #572 (skin); (Meade 1992). 2. Clay Lick Boat Ramp; 236 m; 4 January 1983; female; 115; 20; 17; 7; 18.5; Collectors: G. Eldridge and M. Dunaway MOSU #573 (skin); (Meade 1992). 3. Cave Run Lake near FS 932; 293 m; December 1993; male; 164; 34; 19; 7; 32.9; Collector: T. Stone MOSU #1261 (skin). Scott County 1. Reported in (Meade 1992). Woodford County 1. Midway; ~244 m; 24 November 1981; male; 152; -; -; -; -; Collector: K.W. Prather NCSM #16309 (skull); cat kill (Prather 1984). MARYLAND The first Maryland specimen was taken in October 1974. A total of 5 specimens (3 females, 1 male, and 1 sex unknown) are currently known from the state. Garrett County 1. D.M. Harman farm adjacent to Getz Run; 27 February 1977; adult female; 186; 29; 19; -; 43.6; Collector: J.A. Chapman and D.M. Harman; FSUMC #932, formerly AEL #932, (skin, skull); found dead (Chapman and Harman 1977). 2. Swanton; 17 December 1977; female; Collector: C.A. Blount; USNM #526276 (skin, skull). 3. Deep Creek Lake; 695 m; 8 August 1999; male; 208; 32; 22; 12; 60; Collector: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; MSB #90566 (whole body in alcoh ol). Montgomery County 1. Rockville; 4 October 1974; female; Collector: L. Augustine; USNM #398503 (skin, skull, skeleton). 2. McKee-Beshers Wildlife Manage Area; Summer 1978; Collector: G.A. Zell; USNM #543067 (skull). Southeastern Naturalist 253 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 NORTH CAROLINA The first record of this species in North Carolina was from a specimen taken in Madison County in April 1916 (Church 1925). Mustela nivalis was listed as “status undetermined” on the basis of 4 records in 1977 (Cooper et al. 1977). Twenty-two specimens (11 females, 7 males, and 4 sex unknown) are currently known from the state. Avery County 1. Big Yellow Mountain; ~1655 m; 15 June 1982; male; 190; 30; 20; 13; 43.2; Collectors: W.J. Grundman and S.P. Hines; WFUVC #M467; Sherman trap (Grundman and Hines 1983). 2. Grandfather Mountain; 4 August 2009; adult female; Collectors: C. Topton and J. Pope; placed in NCSM collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015; accidental, drowned in pond. Buncombe County 1. Asheville; 664 m; 31 August 1962; male; 182; 33; 20; 11; 48.5; Collector: M. Edwards; NCSM #1010 (skin, skull, skeleton); hand capture (Edwards 1963) . 2. Between Candler and Enka; 712 m; 20 November 1991; female; 187; 29; 20; 10; 39.6; Collector: J. Brooks; NCSM #7838 (skin, skull); dog kill. 3. Asheville; 714 m; 19 July 2007; Collector: C. Kelly; Photo in NCWRC (North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission) and VHCC collection; accidental, window-well capture and release. 4. Sandy-Mush Game Land; 621 m; 29 January 2008; male; 171; 24; 20.5; -; 46.8; Collectors: G. Graeter and C. Henline; NCSM #19420 (skin, skull, skeleton, tissue); accidental, killed by tractor. 5. Hillendale Rd.; 670 m; 29 July 2008; female; Collector: C. Kelly; live specimen previously on display at Western North Carolina Nature Center; found injured. 6. Sandy-Mush Game Land; 30 April 2012; Collector: J. Tomcho; specimen in possession of C. Kelly, NCWRC (skull) and photo in VHCC collection; Barn Owl pellet. 7. Blue Ridge Parkway in the Craggy Mountains, MP 363; ~1700 m; 25 July 2015; adult female; Collector: C. Kelly; to be accessioned in NPS Blue Ridge Parkway collections, photo verified by D. Linzey; DOR. Haywood County 1. Clyde, Walnut Road; February 1976; Collector: J. Pentecost, TVA; HCC teaching collection; cat kill. 2. Pressley Mt.; ~1145 m; 31 January 2005; female; Collector: S. Bosworth; specimen in possession of NCWRC; cat kill. 3. Clyde, Danielwood Court; ~830 m; 30 January 2014; adult; Collector: P. Super; being prepared as taxidermy mount; will be located at NCWRC headquarters in Raleigh; found dead. 4. Clyde, off State Route 1539/Caring Place Loop; 805 m; 28 May 2014; adult female; 175; 32; 17; 10; 36.2; Collector: P. Wheeler; NCSM #19421 (skin, skull, skeleton, tissues); DOR. Henderson County 1. Hendersonville; 671 m; 17 November 1965; subadult male; 189; 30; 22; 12; 39.7; Collector: V. Cunningham; USNM #363980 (skin, skull, baculum); mouse trap (Barkalow 1967). 2. Western NC Agricultural Extension Field Station; ~653 m; 26 May 1984; male; 184; 25; 22; 1; 27.2; Collector: B. Sullivan; NCSM #5189 (skin, skull, s keleton); Sherman trap. 3. Western NC Agricultural Extension Field Station; ~653 m; 1984; male; 176; 27; 22; 12; 34.8; Collector: B. Sullivan; NCSM #5198 (skin, skull, skeleton ); Sherman trap. Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 254 4. Western NC Agricultural Extension Field Station; ~653 m; 1984; female; 176; 28; 19; 10; 33.5; Collector: B. Sullivan; NCSM #8102 (skin, skull, skeleton ); Sherman trap. Jackson County 1. Balsam Gap; 1036 m; 24 July 1959; female; 192; 28; 20; -; -; Collector: A.L. Atchison; GRSM #10949; cat kill (Stupka 1960). Madison County 1. Marshall; 518 m; 17 April 1916; adult female; 183; 31; 21; -; -; Collector: M.L. Church; USNM #245843 (skin, skull); (Church 1925). 2. Pisgah National Forest, Max Patch Mt.; 1330 m; 25 Oct. 2009; female; 187; 31; 21; 11; 39.7; Collectors: North Carolina State University (NCSU) students; NCSM #15600 (skin, skull, skeleton); Sherman trap. Swain County 1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Andrews Bald Trail near Clingmans Dome parking area; ~1879 m; 10 September 2014; female; 140; 27; 19; -; 23; Collector: D. Linzey; GRSM (not yet accessioned; skin, skull); found sick and subsequ ently died. Yancey County 1. Burnsville, Mt. Mitchell; 2032 m; 5 September 1966; male; 164; 28; 20; 5; -; Collector: C. Hopson; NCSM# 1051 (skin, skull, skeleton). TENNESSEE The first recorded occurrence of the Least Weasel in Tennessee is of a specimen trapped on Roan Mountain in September 1962 (Tuttle 1968). It was listed as a species of “Special Concern” in 1980 on the basis of 8 locality records (Kennedy and Harvey 1980). Thirty specimens (6 females, 9 males, and 15 sex unknown) are currently known from the state. The ETSU collection contained 2 Least Weasel specimens lacking identification tags and these are most likely 2 of the missing specimens listed below. Carter County 1. Roan Mountain; 1463 m; 25 September 1962; male; 173; 31; 20; 5; 42.5; Collector: M. Tuttle; USNM #332422 (skin, skull, skeleton); museum trap (T uttle 1968). 2. Roan Mountain, Heaton Creek; 1305 m; 10 November 1974; 189; 23; 20; 10; 32.0; Collector: B. Morell; MC #50 (skin); cat kill. 3. Glacier Drive; 529 m; 20 January 1999; male; 180; 26; 14; 3; -; Collector: H. Loller; ETSU Teaching collection (skin); cat kill. Claiborne County 1. Speedwell; 366 m; May 1989; collector: J.E. Copeland; LMU teaching collection (skull); Barn Owl pellet (Copeland and Caldwell 1991). 2. Speedwell; 366 m; 12 May 1989; male; 188; 40; 23; -; 35.5; Collectors: B.S. Cushing and F.M. Knight; LMU teaching collection (skin); Sherman live trap (Cushing and Knight 1991). 3. Speedwell; 366 m; 12 May 1989; female; -; -; -; -; 35; Collectors: B.S. Cushing and F.M. Knight; specimen released after capture; Sherman live trap (Cus hing and Knight 1991). Cumberland County 1. Laurel Creek; 588 m; 21 November 1986; male; 197; 32; -; -; 50; Collector: W. Burgess; W. Burgess private collection (skin); DOR (Anderson 1988). 2. Crossville; 556 m; 25 January 2005; female; 165; 27; 18; -; 22; Collector: C. Simpson, TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency); photo of specimen; cat kill. Southeastern Naturalist 255 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 Fentress County 1. Jamestown; 366 m; 5 May 2001; Collector: J. Bailey; UTFWF co llection; cat kill. Green County 1. Lick Creek Bottoms WMA; 330 m; June 2005; Collector: D. Holt; D. Holt private collection (skull); Barn Owl pellet. Hamblen County 1. Jacobs Road; 394 m; 2005; Collector: D. Scott, TWRA; D. Scott private collection (skull); cat kill. Johnson County 1. and 2. Shady Valley, Hwy 133; 857 m; 21 December 1973; Collector: R. McQueen; Photograph taken by B. Rogers and a copy is in the VHCC collection; dog kill. 3. Shady Valley, Beaver Dam Creek, Cherokee National Forest; 7 July 1987; 180; 30; 21; 10; -; Collector: B. Handy; OMNH #56593 (skeleton). 4. Shady Valley, Sluder Road; 871 m; 20 January 2004; male; 161; 31; 21.5; 18.5; Collector: J. Donaldson; VHCC #200104-01 (skin, skull); cat kill. 5. Shady Valley, Orchard Road; 867 m; 27 July 2014; male; 200.6; 33.6; 24.0; 9.8; -; Collector: K. Campbell; VHCC #270714-01 (skin, skull); cat kill. Monroe County 1. Whigg Meadow, Cherokee National Forest; OMNH #44293 (skin, skeleton). Sevier County 1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park; placed in UTMZ collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015; (Kennedy and Harvey 1980). 2. Beech Branch Road; 500 m; 20 February 1997; female; 160; 22; 20; -; 25.0; Collector: J. Dixon; D. Linzey personal collection #589 (skin, skull); cat kill (Linzey et al. 2002). 3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail; 614 m; Photograph taken by T. Simons and a copy is in D. Linzey’s personal collection; remote camera. Sullivan County 1. Blountville; 490 m; 13 March 1972; male; 180-30-22-12; -; Collector: J. Jackson; ETSU #0528 (skin); cat kill (Smith et al. 1974). 2. Blountville; 490 m; 3 August 1973; Collector: J. Jackson; placed in ETSU collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015; cat kill. 3. Bristol, South Holston River; 476 m; 21 January 1983; female; 178; 27; 20; 5; -; Collector: C. Owens; USNM #345049 (skin); cat kill. 4. Blountville; 481 m; 14 June 2001; Collector: K. Hamed; taxadermic mount at Steele Creek Park Nature Center, Bristol, TN; skull placed in UM collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015; cat kill. 5. Bristol, South Holston Lake; 569 m; 15 September 2002; male; photograph taken by S. Foster and a copy is in VHCC collection; cat kill. Unicoi County 1. 20 January 1973; Collector: J. Giles; placed in ETSU collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015; (Smith et al. 1974). 2. 2001; 119; 20; 11; 5; -; Collector: J. Lynch; VHCC #2004-05; cat kill. Washington County 1. Johnson City, near ETSU; 515 m; 16 January 1971; male; 52.9 g; Collector: J. Nagel; ETSU collection but unaccounted for as of 2015; Hav-a-hart trap (Nagel 1972). Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 256 2. Gray Station, Vance Hale Road; 562 m; 10 December 1974; female; 179; Collector: V. Hale; Photograph in Bristol Herald Courier 15 December 1974; ca t kill. 3. Dry Creek Road; 476 m; female; Collector: S. Dykes, TWRA; photograph in TWRA Region IV office, specimen was placed in UM collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015; found living but killed by landowner. VIRGINIA The first record of this species in Virginia is a specimen captured in Blacksburg, Montgomery County (Patton 1939) in October, 1936. Handley (1979; 1991) placed this species in the “status undetermined” category in Virginia, noting a need for more information on its distribution in the state. Only 8 specimens from 5 localities were known in 1979; 13 specimens from 9 counties had been recorded by 1991 (Linzey 199 8). The official Virginia classification was “status undetermined” in both 1978 and 1989 (Handley 1991). Population densities in southeastern Virginia are unknown, and records are sparse. The Least Weasel may be locally common in areas where food is abundant (Handley 1991). M. Hensley (Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA, pers. comm.) believed this species may be more abundant than records indicate because ~30 individuals had been recorded on or near the Bridgewater College (BC) campus in Rockingham County, Virginia during the preceding 25 years. M. Hensley (pers. comm.) stated, “The first specimen at BC was brought in by my uncle’s cat in 1959. Doc Jopson caught or had delivered to him 2 others while I was a BC undergraduate in the 60s. Only one of those skins was still there when I returned to BC as faculty in 1986. I live-trapped (and released) several while doing my MS at JMU [James Madison University] in the early 70s, and I witnessed one captured in the Interstate 81 median beside the JMU campus in 1971. And finally, my students and I caught several more between 1986 and 2010 on farmland close by the BC campus. Prime habitat was always overgrown pasture, hayland, or fallow fields.” Twenty-eight specimens have been recorded from Virginia. These include 9 females, 8 males, and 11 sex unknown. In addition to the specimen listed from Rockingham County, Bridgewater College has a second specimen whose damaged tag reads only “VA” and “1/13”. Albemarle County 1. Shenandoah National Park, Big Flat Mt. Nature Trail; 18 July 1973; male; 175; 34; 22; 11; -; Collectors: B. Hockstra, W. Lilly, and G. Roe; SHEN #1590 (skin). Bedford County 1. Montvale; 2 November 2009; Collector: N. Moncrief; VMNH- not yet accessioned; accidental, drown in pool. Caroline County 1. Bowling Green, Fort A.P. Hill; 30–70 m; 31 March 1997; female; Collector: A.S. Bellows; formerly VCU #12617, currently VMNH #142616 (skin, skull); pit-fall trap (Bellows et al. 1999). Fairfax County 1. Vienna; 3 May 1981; male; 183; 31; 19; 9; -; Collector: C.E. Tufts; USNM #542284 (skin, skull, partial skeleton). Fauquier County 1. Rectortown; 150 m; August 1974; male; Collector: A.L. Gardner; USNM #511151 (skin, skull, skeleton). Southeastern Naturalist 257 D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 Giles County 1. 2.7 km NNE of Mountain Lake Post Office; 1165 m; 3 August 1966; male; Collector: J. C. Parker; USNM #364563 (skin, skull). 2. Near Blacksburg; 23 October 1979; female; Collector: W.H.N. Gutzke; formerly VCU #02130, currently VMNH #132129 (skin and skull). Grayson County 1. Independence; 30 May 2007; Collector: R. Wright; VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries photo. Montgomery County 1. Blacksburg; 31 October 1936; male; 282.9; 27.4; 22.9; -; -; Collector: C.P. Patton; USNM #261851 (skin, skull); posthole trap (Patton 1939). 2. Blacksburg, VA Tech biology building; 14 November 1940; male; 195; 35; 22; 15; 34.5; Collector: L. M. Llewellyn; USNM #293751 (skin); hand capture ( Llewellyn 1942). 3. Blacksburg, VA Tech dormitory; 21 January 1941; female; 175; 26; 18; 12; 24.9; Collector: L.M. Llewellyn; USNM #293752 (skin, skull, skeleton [skeleton #537 not found as of March 1994]); hand capture (Llewellyn 1942). 4. Blacksburg; March/April 1948; Collector: R.J. Watson; unknown; (skull and skeletal); Barn Owl pellet (Handley 1949). 5. Blacksburg, Heth Farm; 20 December 1971; female (5 embryos); Collector: G. Spiers; VTTC #604; found dead. 6. Blacksburg; 27 May 1981; male; Collector: J. Cranford; VMNH # 39522 (skin only). 7. Blacksburg, Prices Fork Road; 18 May 1984; 188; 77; 12; 11; -; Collector: Tim; VTMM #3318. 8. Within 8-km radius of VA Tech; 1978–1981; male; 65 g; Collector: J. Cranford and T. Derting; trapped (Derting 1989). 9–11. Within 8-km radius of VA Tech; 1978–1981; females; mean = 49 g; Collectors: J. Cranford and T. Derting; trapped (Derting 1989). Rockingham County 1. Dayton; 20 January 1941; male; 217; 42; 25; 12; 63.5; Collector: D. Shaver; USNM #293753 (skin, skull, skeleton); (Llewellyn 1942). 2. Dayton; 6 January 1951; BC. 3. Bridgewater; 25 January 1990; male; 84; 30; 22; 12; -; USNM #570480 (skin, skull, skeleton). Scott County 1. Yuma; August 1990; juvenile; Collector: G. McConnell; photographed by J. McGregor, KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; photo in VHCC collection; found alive on road; released in Unicoi, TN. (Linzey 1988). Washington County 1. Between Greendale and Bristol; 1 January 1967; female; Collector: G. Mitchell; photo of mounted specimen in Bristol Herald Courier, 5 January 1975. Taxidermic mount is currently in possession of Gearl Mitchell, photograph in VHCC collection; leg-hold trap. 2. Chilhowie; 624 m; 4 August 2010; Collector: S. Bobo; VMNH #2012-007, not yet prepared as of August 2015; cat kill. Wythe County 1. Max Meadows; 21 February 2007; female; 140; 28; 20; -; 35; Collector: B. Porter; DWL #613 (skin, skull). Southeastern Naturalist D.W. Linzey and M.K. Hamed 2016 Vol. 15, No. 2 258 2. Wytheville at base of Sand Mountain; ~730 m; 16 December 1990; Collector: E. Blankenship; Taxidermic mount; cat kill (Roble and Hobson 2000). 3. Wytheville at base of Sand Mountain; ~730 m near; 18 December 1990; Collector: E. Blankenship; cat kill (Roble and Hobson 2000). WEST VIRGINIA The first Least Weasel recorded from West Virginia was in March 1897. Twenty specimens (3 females, 3 males, and 14 sex unknown) are known to reside in museums, university, or wildlife agency collections. Berkeley County 1. and 2. Tomahawk; 1981; Collector: R. Bartgis; WVU collection, but unaccounted for as of 2015. Pocahontas County 1. Traveler’s Repose; ~850 m; 3 March 1897; male; Collector: C.G. Rosebuck; USNM # 87030 (skin, skull). Greenbrier County 1. October 1975; female; 134; 30; 22; -; -; Collector: T. Dotson; CM #104191 (skin, skull). 2–5. Lewisburg; prior to 1991; Collector: C. Handley Jr.; trapped (Handley 1991). Monongalia County 1. Cheat Bridge, Allen farm, 16 km SE Morgantown; 20 February 1957; Collector: F. Schwartz; CM #57632 (skeleton). 2. 14.5 km N of Morgantown; March 1964–September 1965; male; Collector: W.N. Bradshaw and A. E. Gibbons; WVU (skin, skull), but unaccounted for as of 2015; trapped (Bradshaw and Gibbons 1967). 3. Wadestown; 1980; Collector: J. Evans; specimen at WVDNR (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources) Farmington office. 4. Smithtown; 1983; Collector: J. Evans; specimen at WVDNR Farmington office. Ohio County 1. Oglebay Park; 30 November 1928; Collector: E. Hockman; trapp ed (Brooks 1929). 2. Oglebay Park, Wheeling; July 1939; 160; 30; 20; 8; -; Collector: W.L. Ammon; CM #17780 (skin, skull). 3. Bethany Pike, Avalon; 8 December 1937; female; 187; 34; 23; 11; -; Collector: K.W. Haller; CM #50516 (skin, skull). Randolph County 1. Huttonsville; 7 February 1915; male; Collector: T.H. Ward; USNM #206340 (skin, skull). 2. Dailey; 1986; Collector: K. Knight; WVEOC (West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Elkins Operation Center; (skin, skull). 3. Crystal Springs; 2013; Collector: K. Krantz; Taxidermic mount at WVEOC. Tucker County 1. Davis; August 1950; female; Collector: C.O. Handley Jr.; USNM #293750 (skin, skull. Upshur County 1. Bridge Run; 1997; Collector: C. Brown; WVEOC (skull).