This past Saturday, I was standing at the northwest corner of the Wetlands gazing out through the shrubs, trees, and grass between the edge of the water and myself. Something moved in the brush, a mammal. It was deep, dark brown in color.
At first I thought it a muskrat. I’ve seen muskrat in the Wetlands before, rarely, but muskrat was the safest bet for a small dark mammal plying the Wetlands during daylight. As it moved closer I realized it was too thin to be a muskrat. As it stepped out onto the bare mud, I now saw clearly its long thin body, deep rich brown coat, long furred tail, and its quick and purposeful movements. It was a mink.
The animal was foraging, hunting for food, crayfish, frogs, snakes, shrew, anything alive and within reach. It moved directly towards me, stopping at the stiltgrass at the edge of the mud, paying me no mind as I stood some eight or ten feet away.
It moved south along the edge of the grass and mud. I followed, camera in hand anxious to get a photo. I snapped one, then another. Then, I lost the animal in the weeds and brush.
Minutes passed. Where had the mink gone?
There, just feet away, the slender dark brown weasel-like critter was on the move again. I raced ahead of it in anticipation of getting more photos (you can’t get too many, and besides, they all don’t turn out the way you’d like them to). Here it comes. The mink came towards me, under a log, and halfway up the bank. It stopped, looked directly at me, moved its head back and forth a few times in order to gauge what, exactly, it was looking at. The mink, finally realizing it was looking at a human who was, likewise, staring back at him, high-tailed it to wherefrom it had come.
I’ve seen mink along the Eno River and other wetlands more than a few times. And although it was probably just a matter of time before I saw one here at the Museum, I didn’t expect to see one on a bright sunny day with visitors aplenty passing by the Wetlands.
Unfortunately for me, the mink was now alerted to the fact that I was aware of it’s presence. I wouldn’t see it again.
I looked at my photos. More reminiscent of images of Bigfoot, blurry snapshots of a hairy creature running through the woods, I won’t post them here. You’ll have to take my word for it, I saw a mink in the Wetlands.
American Mink (Neovison vison) and the various weasels are mustelids. The family also includes otters, skunks, martens, fishers, ferrets, badgers and wolverines.