Across the UK non-native American mink have been wreaking havoc with native wildlife including species of ground nesting birds, and one of Britain’s most charismatic small mammals – the water vole.
Water voles are the UK’s fastest declining mammals with numbers having plummeted a shocking 90% – if not more – in just a few decades. As with many species of UK wildlife, loss of habitat plays a major role in contributing to the decline of water voles both directly and in creating smaller, more isolated populations. These isolated populations are incredibly vulnerable to predation – in particular predation from American mink.
As the name suggests, American mink do not belong in Britain’s assemblage of native wildlife. Rather, mink fall into the category of ‘invasive’ species (along with many other species such as Himalayan balsam, grey squirrels, Japanese knotweed, Signal crayfish, New Zealand pygmy weed, sika deer etc, etc) defined as being non-native to the UK and known to cause damage to native British wildlife.
Annually, invasive species cost the British economy over £1.7 billion. What’s more over 40% of species extinctions are a direct result of invasive species. In a time when the extinction rate has rocketed to terrifying levels, this surely is an issue which needs addressing with urgency. Durham Wildlife Trust is working with partners to develop a joined-up approach to addressing this issue in the North East: engaging with landowners, stakeholders, custodians and local communities to form a collaborative approach which seeks to prevent further loss of native wildlife (and species extinction) in the North East, and in the UK overall.
Thanks to players of the National Lottery we are able to gather a greater understanding of the current picture for water voles in the North East, and develop a strategy to save this lovable mammal from local extinction, enabling it to flourish once more in our rivers, streams, ditches and ponds. In order to realise this vision, it is vital that we develop a greater understanding of locations and behaviour of mink. And so we are asking for help with any or all of the following:
- If you see mink in the North East please let us know. Send us details of location and date (with photograph if possible). firstname.lastname@example.org, 0191 584 3112
- Trail Cameras– We are very keen to capture trail camera footage of mink, so please send footage in, or use your camera to check areas for riparian mammals. Come along to one of our Trail Cam Training Sessions. If you don’t have your own trail camera you can loan one for the purpose of this project
- Mammal Web Spotter – you can help from the comfort of your own living room! Trail cameras can produce a lot of footage which needs to be checked and mink species identified and recorded by spotters
- If your community group has a stream or pond and would like to set up a mammal monitoring raft please get in touch