- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

OAKLEY, Idaho (AP) - A second elusive ringtail has been captured in south-central Idaho and released back into the wild with a radio collar attached.

Biologists hope to use the information they obtain to find out if ringtails are migrating to Idaho from the south or if there’s a resident population that’s good at going undetected, The Times-News newspaper in Twin Falls reported in a story Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1zYfG6s).

Ross Winton, a biologist with Idaho Fish and Game, said the male ringtail was captured Feb. 17 near Oakley and released two days later at the Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area.

A female named Eva was captured south of Twin Falls last spring and also released with a radio collar.

“We’ve heard her collar, but getting eyes on them is very difficult to do,” Winton said, noting she was last in the South Hills but moving west. That ringtail, biologists said, was the first Bassariscus astutus that southern Idaho scientists had alive in hand.

Ringtails, which have distinctive black- and white-ringed tails, are smaller than a house cat with bodies that are mostly brown with white undersides. The nocturnal carnivores are members of the raccoon family and typically eat rodents, birds, berries and insects. They tend to inhabit the rocky deserts of the Southwest and Mexico.

The captured ringtails are so unusual for Idaho biologists scrambled and fitted them with old skunk collars that have a sage grouse radio transmitter glued on so biologists can get an idea of their range and numbers.

“When your program has no money, you have to come up with all kinds of makeshift ways of getting equipment out in the field,” Winton said.

Winton said Eva could be pregnant, and if so would likely have a den somewhere. He said he plans to take out tracking equipment to the South Hills in several weeks to see if he can locate the radio signals from the two ringtails.

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Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

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