Mink control project on Ythan hailed a success

Volunteers are delighted after being told a mink eradication project on the Ythan is working.

For years mink have posed a serious threat to natural wildlife throughout the Ythan catchment and in many other rivers across the North-east.

The animal has caused the loss of native water voles and also killed many breeding waterside birds.

Jim Mann, Aberdeenshire’s mink control officer, told members of the Ythan Project Group that the number of mink trapped across the region had now reached 200.

He said it marked a major leap forward in the aims of the project, adding that he was continually on the lookout for new recruits in the battle against the mink.

The Scottish Mink Initiative was launched in May, 2011, and is a community-based drive which aims to protect native wildlife by removing breeding American mink from North Scotland and the Highlands.

An innovative means of tracking the animal was designed through the use of a floating raft in any burn or area of water. When the mink climb on to the raft an imprint of their distinctive footmarks is taken to show they are in the area. Steps are then taken to trap them.

The Ythan Project Group’s Fiona Leith said: “A large number of mink have been eradicated across the Ythan catchment area and the results of this work are now bearing fruit with the welcome sightings of ‘ratty’ coming back to where it belongs in the Ythan and its tributaries.

“This is fantastic news as the lovely water vole has had a really hard time of it as the mink has increased.

“But now the situation is in reverse with mink numbers decreasing and sightings of water vole being reported from many of their old haunts.

“This is a great boost to members of the Ythan Project Group who can now see their hard work and commitement being of practical benefit to one of the area’s native animals.”

Volunteers are involved in projects to help conserve the river and its wildlife from source to sea.

Recently thay have been active in helping the Forestry Commission Scotland restore an area of ancient woodland in Gight Woods, where they planted a number of native hazel.

Anyone interested finding out more about the group should attend the next meeting in the Buchan Hotel, Ellon at 7.30pm on Thursday, May 16. For further information contact Fiona Leith at fionaleith88@gmail.com