Mystery Critter Caught On Film


The great San Francisco Chronicle outdoors writer Tom Stienstra had this item in his weekly column about a rather exotic animal that photobombed a trail camera in NorCal’s Mendocino County.

Here’s Stienstra with more:

The cam had captured images of a rare weasel-like animal. Two of the pictures were sharp enough that you could clearly see the face and ears of the animal, rare for most images from wildlife cams.

It looked as if it could be a pine marten, mink or fisher.

“I’ve been doing this since 2010,” said Salinas, who works as a preschool teacher. “All my buddies got cameras too, and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve had pictures of bears, mountain lions, big deer — but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen one of these guys.”

When the photo was first posted on the NorCal Kayak Anglers’ website, nobody was quite sure what it was.

The cute face and pocket ears looked like those of a pine marten; if confirmed, it would have been a landmark discovery.

One strain, the Humboldt pine marten, once lived in the redwood belt in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, but it was nearly trapped to extinction in the first half of the last century. Any verified sighting is significant, and one documented in the vicinity of Willits would be a breakthrough.

It will get really interesting if another such creature is spotted.