ControlThe mink is a medium-sized member of the mustelid family, alongside stoats, weasels, ferrets, badgers and otters. All these species have prominent scent glands and the smell is often pungent.
Frequently found near water, they are often mistaken for otters, although mink are in fact considerably smaller.
They are highly effective predators and, given the opportunity, will kill far more than they can carry away and eat. They are major predators of much of our native wildlife and should be controlled at every opportunity.
The most effective way is a well-placed mink trap. This is a live-catch trap, essential to ensure that non-target species, such as the threatened water vole can be safely released.
Their natural wild colouring is a glossy dark brown, appearing almost black in some light. Mink spend up to 80% of their time in their dens, sleeping, grooming and eating food they have carried home. The first American mink were imported into Britain in 1929 for fur farming and all wild mink in Britain today are descendants of escapees or illegal releases.
Most river systems are now occupied by mink, where they have had a devastating impact on local fauna, in particular the water vole, whose numbers have suffered catastrophic decline.
Mink are rarely seen, but there are signs to indicate you have a mink problem.
Mammals and birds are killed by a bite on the back of the head or neck and fish by a bite between the head and dorsal fin.
Droppings are 6-9cm long, sausage shaped and twisted, pointed at the ends. They often show evidence of fish scales, fur and feather and have a strong unpleasant smell. (Otter scat has a much sweeter smell and tends to be composed purely of fish remains)
Footprints are seen in sand and mud-banks close to the water. They consist of a large pad around which are five clawed toes, although sometimes only four show. Footprints are often indistinguishable from those of the ferret.
Mating takes place between February and April.
Up to six young are born 30 days later.
Kids are born deaf, blind and hairless but grow very quickly and are weaned at eight weeks old.
They remain with their mother throughout the summer but move away to find their own territories in the autumn.
Mink are solitary, territorial animals; males and females each select their own territory which they defend vigorously against other mink.
Within its territory a mink will have several dens, usually in the roots of riverside trees, boulders or rabbit burrows.
Although mainly nocturnal, mink are often seen during the day.
Mink are fast, agile carnivores and will eat anything they can catch and kill. Their diet is made up of fish, birds, rabbits, rats, mice, eels and crayfish.
They will kill poultry, and like the fox, they will not stop killing until every bird in the pen is dead.
Mink are a very serious threat to native British wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds and water voles which they have driven to extinction in many areas of the country.