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Amelia Janes <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 21 Aug 2000 16:12:20 -0500
text/plain (59 lines)
Well, most people think it may have been an otter, but I would be very surprised if we had otters
in Lake Mendota in downtown Madison. Still, because it was so big, maybe it was! It was definitely
not a muskrat, it was too long and slender, looked like a weasel, but bigger and longer than most
weasels I've seen. Otters I've seen (like at the Oceanarium in Lisbon) are heftier and stockier
than this creature. This guy looked like a 3 foot solid black weasel on steroids.  He didn't climb
up into an upright tree, but came out of the water and climbed along a tree that was leaning over
into the water.

Lorena, your idea of checking with the DNR is a good one. Perhaps they are introducing otters back
into our lakes. I also appreciate your comments on exactly what a polecat is. My grandad always
called skunks polecats, but my Dad always said that polecats were not skunks.  As a child, I
imagined a skunklike animal with all its parts stretched out, longer legs, longer neck and able to
funigate its enemies like a skunk.

What a great town I live in that I can eat dinner and go for an evening sail, and see otters or
mink or whatever it was,  muskrats which we often see, a pair of swans that live in the bay,
enumerable ducks (enough to thoroughly annoy the boat owners), gulls, swallows, big ole carp
flopping out of the water and occassionally a turtle or two--all on campus right next to the drunk
powerboaters and beer and brat drinkers at the Memorial Union.


Lorena Babcock Moore or Daniel Moore wrote:

> Hi Amelia,
> I'm not a zoologist, but a naturalist - I think your swimming mustelid
> sounds like an otter or (maybe) a mink.  I assume you were sailing
> somewhere in Wisconsin, since your address is Madison (my husband's
> hometown).  Weasels are much smaller, though there are probably some around
> where you live.  Martens and fishers are shy northwoods creatures - the marten
> is more catlike and the fisher looks a lot like a mink.  Ferrets are domestic
> animals; most have at least some white on them, and they are smaller than
> what you describe.  Stoat and polecat are British weasels and ferrets, though some
> Americans use "polecat" to refer to skunks.
> You might see if the State Fish and Wildlife department has reintroduced any otters
> or mink in your area within the last few years.  If they have, they might be interested
> in your sighting.  (I had an experience like this in 1989 with a mink that I saw running across
> the road in the Adirondacks, where most furbearers have been "extinct" for decades.  Turns
> out it was a recently-reintroduced animal.   New York state tried the same thing with lynx
> that summer in the Adirondack High Peaks region.  A couple of months later, a radiocollared
> lynx was caught in downtown Warrensburg, 50 miles south.)
> Lorena B. Moore
> Tucson, AZ
> Or my new website on one of our endangered cacti:

Amelia Janes--GNSI membership secretary
Wisconsin Cartographers' Guild / Midwest Educational Graphics
6 Lyons Circle
Madison, WI 53704
fax 608-244-3889
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