European polecats in Britain have made a strong recovery in the last century — from near disappearance in England to a spread into new areas, the BBC reports.

The polecat, a mammal in the weasel family with a face like a robber’s mask, nearly disappeared in Britain over the last 100 years. It ate chickens and small birds, and for that it was seen as a loathsome nuisance and was nearly eradicated.

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But a survey by the Vincent Wildlife Trust shows the little critter mounting a strong comeback.

“Polecats are turning up in areas where they haven’t been seen for over 100 years, so they have re-colonized really extensive parts of England,” Lizzie Croose, a conservation officer for the trust, who led the survey, told BBC.

Croose credits the legally protected status polecats now enjoy with their comeback, the legislation allowing the animals the time to recover and repopulate the land.

via BBC