Volunteers wanted to control mink

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A major new project working in Highland and eastern Perthshire, 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 escapes and deliberate releases, became established in the wild in the 1960s.

Mink are opportunistic and ferocious hunters, taking whatever prey is available and often killing more than they require for food. Their presence in the countryside has a devastating effect on native Scottish wildlife, particularly ground-nesting birds and water vole populations.

Scottish Invasive Species Initiative project officer Mark Purrmann-Charles said: ‘This time of year is critical for our mink work. We really need to control mink before they breed.

‘One female mink hunting a 4km stretch of river can take 100 water voles over the three to four months of feeding her young. That is 10 water vole colonies, often an entire local population, wiped out.

‘We really want to remove them in spring before they breed and their young spread widely and cause devastation to native wildlife.

‘We’ve already got some fantastic volunteers helping the project and have a good coverage between Dunkeld and Ballinluig – though we are always keen to improve that network further.’

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative is using established scientific methodology and information to target its work. Central to this is the University of Aberdeen which, as an academic partner, provides expert scientific knowledge and advice to inform the establishment of the raft network and undertake further research into mink predator and prey dynamics and impacts.

Anyone interested in getting involved or who would like more information should contact Mark Purrmann-Charles on markeskrivers@gmail.com or 07741 639556.

To find out more about the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative or volunteering with the wider project visit www.invasivespecies.scot, follow on social media or contact the team on sisi@nature.scot.