- American mink (Neovison vison) are a member of the Mustelid family whose other members include weasels, otters and badgers.
- Introduced for fur farming in the 1920s, production peaked in the 1960s.
- The population we have today established in the wild as a result of escapees and deliberate releases from fur farms.
- They are semi-aquatic carnivores which can adapt feeding behaviour to available prey species.
- Research carried out by Aberdeen University suggests that in Scotland, American mink numbers are highest in coastal areas as these areas provide the most food.
- Predation by mink has had a significant impact on native wildlife, especially water voles, ground nesting birds, domestic fowl and fish.
- They have no natural predators here in the UK.
- During the mating season (Feb-Apr) male mink move vast distances up to 20km a day in search of a mate.
- A female can give birth to a litter of up to 10 kits.
- Juvenile mink can travel over 100km within in year in search of new territories so they can spread into new areas quickly.
- It is an offence to release this animal into the wild.
Monitoring and trapping.
The best method for instigating a trapping project for mink is using the mink raft. These floating rafts have a tunnel on top and in the centre of the base of the raft there is a rectangular hole which holds a basket containing floral oasis covered in a layer of clay. The raft is tethered to the bank on a stake, tree or fence post. Any mink that passes through the raft will leave footprints on the clay pad. These clay pads can be checked weekly or as often as you wish. Once you detect the presence of mink on the raft you can place a trap in to capture it. Traps must be checked every 24 hours by law. Traps used are live capture traps and any mink captured must be humanely despatched. It is illegal to release a captured mink into the wild.
If you would like to monitor a mink raft please get in touch with the project officer.
Download Poster here (pdf): American Mink Poster