Volunteers sought for Ythan mink project

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THEY’RE a foot long, furry, and quite cute from a distance, but American Mink in the north-east are being targeted by a wildlife initiative designed to reduce their population.

Sarah Atkinson of the Scottish Mink project is appealing for helpers in the Ythan area to come forward to help monitor numbers of the predator, which is a serious pest to local indigenous wildlife.

Sarah told the Times: “As a generalist predator mink have a detrimental impact on a wide range of our wildlife, most notably the water vole which has declined by 95% in the last 50 years, mostly through predation by mink. However, mink also eat fish, ground nesting birds, ducks and chickens. It’s not just the impact on wildlife but also our economy - Scotland relies quite a lot on wildlife tourism, fishing and game shooting, and mink can have a serious impact on the species involved in these activities and thus the local economy.”

Though the Ythan is counted as one of the success stories in terms of mink population control, Sarah believes that much remains to be done, and volunteer efforts are always appreciated.

“In 2010 there were three accounts of water voles in places they haven’t been for as long as 10 years. While there are considerably less mink on the Ythan than previous years, it is now of greater importance to keep monitoring,” she said. “The Scottish Mink Initiative recruits volunteers from all walks of life to assist in monitoring. Some volunteers can also assist in checking live-capture cage-traps, which are set only when mink signs are found, or humanely dispatching mink caught if they are willing to do so.”

Sarah can be contacted at sarah@rafts.org.uk, or 07825 180319.