Just two weeks into the official “year of the stoat”, a visitor to the Krimpenerwaard polder area in Zuid Holland has captured the image of one of the species caught underneath the ice.
“What a photo! It is not something you see every day,” Maarten Breedveld, nature development project leader for the area, told the AD. Breedveld was sent the photo by the visitor, who wishes to remain anonymous, at the weekend.
The stoat, a member of the weasel family, was wearing its white winter coat when it got trapped in the ice. “The person who took the photo said it had probably seen something in the water and went after it,” Breedveld said.
The case is reminiscent of a kingfisher similarly caught in the ice which was subsequently exhibited, ice and all, as part the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam’s collection of animals which have come to an unusual end.
The finder of the stoat is planning to have it mounted so it is unlikely the museum will have a chance to exhibit the animal in its final moments. The museum’s curator Bram Langeveld did try to persuade the owner to part with it, but “unfortunatley that didn’t work out,” he told Dutch News.
Edo van Uchelen, from the Dutch marten foundation, speculated the stoat, which usually only hunts in the water in summer, may have got into trouble crossing the stream. “They are tolerant of cold but not freezing water. It would only have lasted a couple of minutes.”
Stoats are not rare yet in the Netherlands bit their habitats are under pressure, he said, and planners needs to pay more attention to the animals’ needs, such as sufficient food, corridors and burrows. The aim of the year of the stoat is to focus public attention on the animal. “We just hope this isn’t a bad omen,” he said.
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