American Mink (Neovision vision)

 

The American Mink (Neovison vison) is a non native semi aquatic species that now breeds in the wild following escapes from UK fur farms in the 1950s and 60s where they were bred for the fashion industry. Mink are opportunistic predators feeding on native species such as salmonids, water voles and ground nesting birds and have the potential to cause significant ecological damage. The presence of mink in west Sutherland was confirmed in 2011, although few have been seen in the area.  Mink sightings in recent months have been concentrated in the south in Coigach and Assynt, and these remain priority areas to prevent northward migration from Wester Ross.  Most recently mink tracks were found on a raft near Achiltibuie.

 

Dead mink at Reiff (C.MacLeod)
Dead mink at Reiff (C.MacLeod)

What to do if you see a mink.

 

Any mink sightings should be reported to the Trust in the first instance. 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead mink at Reiff (C.MacLeod)
Mink raft in situ (C.Daphne)

Monitor a mink raft

 

Mink rafts and tunnels are located all across the area and contain clay pads to detect mink footprints.  If there are any positive signs of mink on the rafts and tunnels, or mink sightings are reported in the area, traps are set depending on volunteer availability.  Early spring during the mating season and later in the summer when females are out with their kits are critical times to look for signs.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, either by monitoring a raft or acting as a dispatcher please contact us.  We are always on the lookout for new volunteers and would be very happy to hear from you (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

 

 

 

 

 

Mink prints found on a raft near Achiltibiue (K.Dunbar)
Mink prints found on a raft near Achiltibiue
(K.Dunbar)
     
Water vole prints in a tunnel near Scourie (A. Beynon-Jones)
JWater vole prints in a tunnel near Scourie
(A. Beynon-Jones)

Water Voles

 

Water voles are native mammals that live beside water bodies burrowing into the banks. Numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, largely due to predation by mink and habitat degradation.  Female mink are able to follow water voles into their burrows, putting them more at risk.

There is still a healthy water vole population in Assynt providing further evidence that mink are not common in the area, however their eradication is a top priority as part of ongoing water vole conservation works.  The populations in Assynt are surveyed by the University of Aberdeen and trapping allows the health and condition of individuals to be assessed.

 

 

Water vole with large tick (A-M MacMaster)
Water vole with large tick (A-M MacMaster)
     
Water vole with large tick (A-M MacMaster)
Water vole trapping (A-M MacMaster)
 
Email : wsft@btconnect.com    Tel : 01971 502259 
Postal Address : WSFT , Gardeners Cottage, Scourie,By Lairg. Sutherland,IV27 4SX.
Charity number : SC024426  Useful Links
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