The Least Weasel, Mustela nivalis, An Orphan Small Carnivore Species in Canada

Posted on Jun 15, 2012


Gilbert PROULX, Editor

Alpha Wildlife Research & Management Ltd., 229 Lilac Terrace, Sherwood Park, Alberta, T8H 1W3 Canada. Email:

Received 12 January 2012 – Accepted 15 June 2012.


The Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) is the smallest carnivore of Canada. Although it is found in many regions of the country, no ecological studies were conducted on this species. I found 17 papers published on this species in Canada from 1901 to 2012, and most of them (76.5 %) were published before 1960 and reported on the distribution of the species. The absence of field work on the Least Weasel in Canada means that reviews on the ecology of the species may not apply to all Canadian biomes. I argue that the lack of interest in Least Weasel research is due to its body size and elusive behavior, its difficulty to study, and its poor economic value.

Keywords: Least weasel, Mustela nivalis, Canada, wildlife research.



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