So last April I found and imaged a long-tailed weasel on the ranch. This was the first one I'd ever seen in the wild and the first one I'd ever seen on the ranch.
That's perhaps not as surprising as it might be. The ranch is large, weasels are small, and they seem to tend toward nocturnal behavior. Badgers are much larger, and I see evidence of their presence all the time, but I only see them very rarely. Like once a decade or so.
Last month the dogs got a weasel along a fenceline just south of the ranch house. It wasn't a good day for the weasel.
Did you notice the difference in coloration and markings?
Yesterday I surmised that the difference was due to sex and time of year.
It had to be that. Different markings and coloration is never associated with different species, right?
The other day I saw and photographed yet another long-tailed weasel, this one under more salubrious circumstances.
Well, I did a little more research and a little more digging.
Any number of publications confirm that the long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) is native to Nebraska.
Most of the range maps for Ermine distribution follow the border of the Nebraska Panhandle precisely. They are present and secure in Wyoming and Colorado, yet absent across a man-made and invisible line. Hmmm.
It's impossible for me to say for sure. I'm going by images only. It's an interesting puzzle.