Tuesday evening, 9th November 2010, TDFC heard Lois Canham describe the problems caused by American Mink (Neovison vison) and the local north highland project to define and reduce their numbers and hopefully eradicate them.
Mink are members of the family Mustelidae, which also includes the weasels and the otters. There is a European cousin (Mustela lutreola) which is not present in the UK, is smaller and seems not to cause the same environmental problems as it has competitors and natural predators.
Funding for projects of this type is always problematical but the Scottish Government has adopted a policy of eradication of five key invasive non-native species, including American Mink, and funders have supported the project to date. The geographical extent of the problem prohibits paid manpower patiently eliminating mink so the emphasis is on raising volunteer efforts and using trapping techniques.
Where a volunteer and the landowner can be coordinated a floating trap is sited thus: In the tunnel a pot of clay records animal footprints and should a mink be noted the clay pot is replaced by a wire cage trap. Hopefully the animal will return, be shot and the carcass sent to Aberdeen for examination and recording.
Mink are found from west to east coasts and the northerly extent of their range is now being identified. Caithness and the northern parts of Sutherland may be free of mink; this trapping regime should determine that.
More volunteers are wanted to watch over and establish new trap sites on east and west coasts and up riverways and stream beds.
We were grateful for Lois’ presentation and some interest in volunteers to watch the traps was forthcoming.