Project Polecat

Coming your way, or already in your neighbourhood? Help gather useful records across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire to support conservation and enable us to get a better picture of where these animals are

A number of our long-term monitoring projects have produced records of some of our native carnivores, and raised the question, where are they in relation to our nature reserves?

Some species were once common and have gone extinct locally, others are in decline, but often the records of such animals are few in number, certainly much less than you might expect. Conservation would benefit from more information and you can help.



The weasel family

Is one of the most under-recorded groups, and of those the polecat provides an exciting and timely opportunity to gather some very valuable data about the return of one of our most enigmatic, native animals. Are with the rest of the weasel family or mustelids, they have relativley short legs, short, round ears, and thick fur. Most mustelids are solitary, nocturnal animals, and are active year-round. Other species in the weasel family include the Pine Marten, and the non-native American Mink.

The return of the polecat

The polecat (Mustela putorius) is of considerable conservation significance in Britain. This is particularly so because of its current recolonisation of many areas of lowland Britain from which it was trapped to extinction at the end of the 19th century.

At the start of the 21st century the polecat’s conservation status in Britain is much more favourable than it was a hundred years ago. It is now a protected species and, provided that no new serious threats emerge to halt the current recovery, may well become widely re-established in mainland Britain.

With the help of volunteers and local record centres we are putting this animal back on the map, and the exciting news is it has recolonised Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire and is making its way into Suffolk. Multiple records have come in this year, west and east of Cambridge, including sightings near our new nature reserve at Godmanchester, and also near Fancott Wood and MeadowPegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit and Old Sulehay.

How can you help?

For the most part you will only see these animals when they cross your path, a blur as they rush past, but sometimes, if you are lucky you may see a family at play, and once you have such an encounter, they may continue playing for some time, Please let us have more sightings of any member of the weasel family – Polecat, Stoat or Weasel below. To get a grid reference for your sighting, use the Grab a Grid tool


Fill out my online form.


Reporting the sighting direct and quickly can be of great value. In some cases we can take fresh road casualties of polecats and send them to the Vincent Wildlife Trust, to gather additional data as part of a PhD, on the condition, health and diet of the aninal, and for some genetic work as well.

Working with the local records centres, the maps attached below have been produced. These will give you an idea of where we have current records, and where the gaps are.



FilenameFile size
polecat_records_cambridgeshire_map_2015.pdf552.04 KB
stoat_records_cambridgeshire_map.pdf563.97 KB
weasel_records_cambridgeshire_map.pdf563.85 KB
polecat_records_bedfordshire.jpg287.23 KB