by Andrew Moir
The American Mink is a vicious predator that kills far beyond what it needs for food. It has already placed several bird populations in danger and is even known to kill household pets and cut through fencing with its sharp teeth.
The extermination will be funded by the EU and is based on an appeal led by Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. It would take place in the Cairngorms National Park and in the Western Isles, where the mink population are based.
The Hebridean Mink Project, a branch of Scottish Natural Heritage, aims to protect the indigenous nesting bird population on the Islands by eradicating the mink.
The project is being run over the course of 5 years at the cost of £5million. Already 800 hundred have been captured of the estimated population of 1500. If the Western Isles scheme is a success then this could prove crucial in securing funding for a national project, which could cost up to £20million.
Already several schemes exist locally to exterminate the animal which is part of the same family as weasels and otters.
The mink are caught using traps using either fish bait or an oil captured from the gland of a mink. They are then humanely disposed of with a single shot from an air gun while still in the traps. The Hebridean project’s staff consists of 12 trappers and a PhD research student.
American mink were brought to the UK in the 1950s as part of the fur trade and were released into the wild by animal rights activists with several protests from the 1960s onwards. Their instinct to kill on mass is due to the cold conditions of their native environment in North America where they are able to store food in the frozen wasteland.