The Kalispel likely ate weasels, while the Chipewyan and Mistissini Cree are reported to have hunted it for its fur [1-3]. The Coast Salish, Tlingit, Sahtu Hare, Vunta Kutchin (Gwich’in), Koyukon, Alaskan Copper River Delta Eyak are other cultures reported to have trapped weasel [3-10]. Faunal remains excavated at a Tlingit site suggest that they used weasels .
In particular, ermine, also known as stoats or short-tailed weasels, were eaten as an emergency food by the Peel River Kutchin (Gwich’in), Crow River Kutchin, Tahltan, Attawapiskat Cree and Mistissini Cree [12-16]. The Kalispel, Ingalik and Inupiat (Kotzebue Sound, Point Barrow and Nuiqsut) trapped ermine [17-20], which were also present in Chipewyan and Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw) territories [21, 22]. The Nuiqsut trapped ermine in December .
Deadfalls, snares, and, in more recent times, steel traps were used to trap weasels, likely to have included ermine, least weasels and, in central North America, long-tailed weasels. The Kalispel, Tahltan and Kotzebue Sound Inupiat used deadfalls; the Tahltan baited theirs with fish [1, 13, 17]. The Mistissini used small steel traps , which they set primarily for mink, but occasionally caught weasels . The Coast Salish caught weasels in snares placed near known drinking areas . The Kalispel caught weasels in deadfalls  and Inuit sometimes shot weasels with shotguns or rifles . The Alaska Copper River Delta Eyak trapped weasels in box traps hidden in the ground: a small plank was set up so that the weasel would walk on it and fall into the box .
Ermine, in particular, were trapped for their fur by the Peel River Kutchin, Crow River Kutchin and Tahltan [13, 14]. The Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto are also reported to have trapped ermine for its fur . Point Barrow Inupiat sometimes wore ermine skins as amulets or trimmings, while the Kotzebue Sound Inupiat showcased ermine tails on the back center of their outer belts, which they fastened around their outer parkas [17, 19].
The Tahltan were superstitious about ermines; shamans would wear their skins during chants .
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Weasels are small mammalian carnivores and regroup the smallest members of the mustelid family, including larger species like otters and the wolverine (Gulo gulo). In North America, weasels include the ermine (Mustela erminea), least weasel (M. nivalis), and long-tailed weasel (M. frenata), all closely related species within the same genus. The ermine is the most widespread member of the weasel family occurring throughout Canada and Arctic islands, in Alaska, and in northwestern and northeastern United States, while the least weasel do not occur in the High Arctic and Maritime Provinces. The long-tailed weasel has the most southern distribution occurring northward from southern Canada up to Mexico.
Like other member of the weasel family, weasels have dense fur, highly prized in the fur industry, long canines, rounded ears, short limbs, and a long, slender body adapted to pursue preys in long and narrow undergrounds tunnels. The least weasel is the smallest, typically weighing 43 g, and the long-tailed weasel is the largest, typically weighing 265 g, while the ermine is smaller than the long-tailed weasel, but larger than the least weasel with adults typically weighing 70 g. Males are most often larger, sometimes twice the size as females, except for the smaller least weasel. They all have light to dark brown pelage with paler whitish underparts, but only the least weasel has no black tip on their tail. The ermine, the least weasel, and the long-tailed weasel, but only in northern parts of their range, molt to an all white colour before the winter fur to better camouflage in the environment.
Wilson DE, Ruff S: The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press; 1999.