Clark, February 26, 1806
Wednesday February 26th 1806
This morning we dispatched Drewyer and two men in our indian canoe up the Columbia River to take Sturgion and Anchovey. or if they were unsucksessfull in fishing we directed them to purchase fish from the nativs, for which purpose we had furnished them with a fiew articles Such as the nativs are pleased with. we also Sent Shields Jo. Field and Shannon up the Netul to hunt Elk. and directed Reubin Field and Some other man to hunt in the point towards the Praries & point Adams. thus we hope Shortly to replenish our Stock of provisions which is now reduced to a mear minnamum. we have three days provisions only in Store and that of the most inferior dried Elk a little tainted. what a prospect for good liveing at Fort Clatsop at present.
Se we lel is the Clatsop and Chinnook name for a Small animal found in the timbered Country on this Coast. it is more abundant in the neighbourhood of the great falls and rapids of the Columbia than imediately on the Coast. the nativs make great use of the Skins of this animal in forming their robes, which they dress with the fur on them and attached together with the sinears of the Elk or Deer. I have never Seen the ammale and can therefore only discribe it from the Skin and a Slight view which Some of our party have obtained of the liveing animal. the Skin when dressed is from 14 to 18 inches in length, and from 7 to 9 in width; the tail is always Severed from the body in forming their robes, I cannot therefore Say in what form or length it is. one of the men informed me that he thought it reather Short and flat. that he saw one of them run up a tree like a squirel, and that it returned and ran into a hole in the ground. the ears are Short, thin, pointed and Covered with Short fine hair. they are of uniform Colour, a redish brown; tho the base of the long hairs, exceed the fur but little in length, as well as the fur itself is of a Dark colour for at least 2/3ds of it's length next to the Skin. the fur and hair are very fine, Short, thickly Set, and Silky. the ends of the fur and tips of the hair is of a redish brown, that colour prodominates in the ordinary appearance of the Animate. I took this animal to be about the Size of the barking Squirel of the Missouri. and believe most probably that it is of the Mustela genus, or perhaps the brown mungo itself I have in maney instances endeavured to make the nativs Sensiable how anxious I was to obtain one of those animals entire, without being Skined, and offered them rewards to furnish me with one, but have not been able to make them Comprehend me. we have purchased Several of the roabs made of those Skins to loin a westcoat of the Sea otter, which I have made and Capt Lewis a Tiger Cat Skin Coat loined with them also, they make a very pleasant light lighting.
The Rat in the rocky mountains on its west side are like those on the upper part of the Missouri in and near those Mountains and have the distingushing trait of possessing a tail covered with hair like other parts of the body; one of these we caught at the white bear Islands in the beginning of July last and then partially discribed.
There is rats in this neighbourhood but I have not seen them it is most probable that they are like those of the Atlantic States, or at least the native rat of our country which have no hair on their tail. this Specis we found on the Missouri as far up it as the woody country extended. it is as large as the Common European house rat or reather larger is of a lighter Colour bordering more on the lead or drab colour, the hair longer; and the female has only four tits which are placed far back near the hinder legs. this rat I have Seen in the Southern parts of the State of Kentucky & west of the Miami.
The Mouse and mole of this neighbourhood are the Same as those native animals with us.
The Panther is found indifferently either in the great Plains of Columbia the Western Side of the Rocky Mountains or on this coast in the timbered country. it is precisily the Same animal common to the Atlantic States, and most commonly met with on our frontiers or unsettled parts of the Country. this animal is Scerce in the Country where they exist and are So remarkable Shye and watchfull that it is extreamly dificuelt to kill them.
The Polecat is found in every part of the Country. they are very abundant on Some parts of the Columbia, particularly in the neighbourhood of the Great falls & Narrows of that river, where they live in the Clifts along the river & feed on the offal of the Indian fishing Shores. they are the Same as those of other parts of North America.