Fresh initiative to eradicate mink

A NEW initiative to remove breeding American mink from the North of Scotland is set to see Aberdeenshire becoming a key target area.

The Strategic Mink Initiative is a new partnership between Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the University of Aberdeen and 16 other organisations.

The initiative will establish a strategic monitoring and control zone across the north, extending from the mid-Tay to the South Esk, around the east coast to the River Nairn, and across from Dornoch and Cromarty on the east to Ullapool on the west.

With investment of £920,000 and covering some 20,000 km² from rural north Tayside across Aberdeenshire, Moray, the Cairngorms and the Highlands, the initiative aims to protect native wildlife such as water voles, ground nesting birds and economically important populations of salmon and game birds. By doing so, the organisers hope to help protect economic stability for the benefit of local communities,

Sarah Atkinson, the Scottish Mink Initiative’s Aberdeenshire Mink Control Officer, said that thanks to earlier efforts, particularly from the University of Aberdeen, there is now considerably fewer mink in Aberdeenshire than there used to be, with areas like the River Ythan now showing signs of water vole recovery.

“In order to maintain this level of success and build on it, there’s still a great deal to be done in the north east”, she said. “The Rivers Don and Ugie require regular monitoring to prevent mink encroaching into neighbouring areas where a breeding population has been previously removed. Over time, we hope to increase the area free from breeding mink in Aberdeenshire for the benefit of local native wildlife, like water voles and ground nesting birds.”

She continued: “There is a lot of good will and enthusiasm in the area to continue this work, and by working strategically with the community I hope to set up a volunteer network to monitor mink movements using mink rafts and establish an alert system to help us prevent further spread of the species. While animal control will be necessary, animal welfare considerations will be paramount to our operations.”

The initiative is on the lookout for anyone willing to help with the programme. Further details can be obtained by contacting mink@rafts.org.uk.