A major project working across the Highlands, the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, is looking for people to get involved in work to help remove American mink from the countryside.
The invasive American mink was brought to Scotland for fur-farming in 1938 and, as a consequence of both escapes and deliberate releases, became established in the wild in the 1960s. Mink are opportunistic and ferocious hunters taking whatever prey is available to them - often killing more than they require for food at that time. Their presence in the countryside has a devastating effect on native Scottish wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds and water vole populations.
Ben Seaman, with the Cromarty Firth Fishery Trust, said: “We monitor for mink presence using a network of mink rafts which are looked after by volunteers. We already have a great volunteer team running rafts for us, but we have gaps in the network we’d like to fill - in particular, we’d love more help along the Cromarty Firth and the Dornoch Firth. So if anyone living in Cromarty, Invergordon, Alness and Evanton areas or in Bonar Bridge, Dornoch, Loch Fleet and Golspie areas is interested in getting involved they should get in touch for more information.”
Monitoring a mink raft requires no previous experience and is easy to do. The local team provide all equipment, full training at the start, will help set the raft up and are always contactable if you need help or advice. All training and activities are carried out in accordance with the current Scottish Government and NHS coronavirus guidance.
The raft contains a clay pad hidden inside a tunnel and the tell-tale sign of mink presence is when they leave their footprints in the clay as they explore inside the tunnel. Once a raft is set up the volunteer just needs to check it for footprints every couple of weeks. If mink are detected a live-capture trap is set and the mink caught before being humanely despatched by the local team.