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.
The general lack of awareness and understanding of this recovery, and the paucity of information on the status, distribution and behaviour of polecats in the recently colonised areas, prompted the VWT to initiate a number of conservation-centred studies on the species. This included looking at the relationship between wild polecats and feral ferrets. For more information about the polecat please visit our Free downloads page.
The Trust has undertaken two national polecat distribution surveys, one during the 1990s and a second one in 2004-2006, which monitored the range expansion of polecats and polecat-ferrets. See our publications page for the reports published on these surveys. Until 2010 the Trust ran an annual Polecat Abundance Monitoring Survey every autumn, using volunteers to record live or dead polecats seen whilst driving.
West Wales Polecat Survey
We are currently collecting polecat records from west Wales. In our recent national polecat distribution survey, many 10km squares in Wales, the polecat’s historical stronghold, generated no records at all. Either polecats have become scarce in Wales or polecats remain common but records are sparse because the density of humans, roads and traffic are lower than in central and southern England.
We especially need records from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd and Anglesey. If you have seen a polecat, please refer to this leaflet (in English or Welsh) for information on how to submit your record to us.
If you have seen a polecat outside of west Wales and wish to report it, please contact your Local Biological Records Centre (find contact details for your local centre), the national Biological Record Centre and The Mammal Society.