American Mink

Why survey American mink?

As their name suggests, American mink (Neovison vison) are a non-native species - first brought to the UK in number in the 1920s to be farmed for their fur. Over the following decades the fur industry grew, and by the mid 1950s when fur farming peaked, escaped mink had formed a breeding population in the wild.  

In Derbyshire mink were first confirmed to be present at Derwent and Howden reservoirs in 1965. Until recently they were uncommon on Peak District moors, but they have now been recorded in various locations*.

 Mink (c) Peter Trimming
Image (c) Peter Trimming

American mink are considered to be one of the major drivers of the decline of water voles in the UK. Unlike otters, mink are a small enough predator to enter water vole burrows, and hence can wipe out a population in a short time.

Mink are occasionally recorded in the Peak District moorlands but are not as well established in this area as elsewhere, which may explain why water voles are doing relatively well.

Surveying will help to provide an early warning of mink expanding into, or increasing in upland areas so that action could be taken to control them before they become established.

It will also allow us to see if the potential future increase of otters in the Peak District and South Pennines is having an effect on the mink population; as it is thought that mink do less well where otters are present.

In addition, climate change could pose a potential threat to mink if sudden, heavy strorms, which are expected to increase in frequency, destroy areas of suitable habitat.

Mink (c) Peter Trimming
Image (c) Peter Trimming 

For more information on mink ecology, identification and surveying please see our links and further reading page.

* Source - Derbyshire Mammal Group

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