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The Mustelidae are the largest and most diverse family of carnivorous mammals. They include the otters, badgers, weasels, martens, ferrets, minks and wolverines. 

Three types of mustelids were introduced into New Zealand during the mid-1870s when rabbits had become a serious agricultural pest in New Zealand. Farmers demanded that the natural enemies of the rabbit (mustelids) be introduced. Despite the protests of bird experts, ferrets (the largest), stoats and weasels (smallest) were released throughout pastoral areas. 

Far too late, after many official protests, the government changed its policy on mustelids in 1903. However, it was not until 1936 that all legal protection for mustelids was removed. Because of their behavioural characteristics and sizes, they require slightly different management strategies in different locations.


From left to right: weasel, stoat, ferret