Search

Are we winning the fight against American mink across Norfolk?

PUBLISHED: 13:14 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:28 11 May 2017

The American mink Picture: Norfolk Mink Project

The American mink Picture: Norfolk Mink Project

Norfolk Mink Project

Alien mink have for years wreaked havoc on aquatic birdlife and water vole populations across Norfolk.

A mink trap with doweling acting as an otter guard Picture: Norfolk Mink Project A mink trap with doweling acting as an otter guard Picture: Norfolk Mink Project

Increasing numbers of alien mink have for years wreaked havoc on aquatic birdlife and water vole populations across Norfolk.

However, a trapping project started in 2003 to cull their numbers is making headway in the fight against the invasive species.

Norfolk Mink Project coordinator Dr Katy Owen said the organisation was started when “catastrophic” declines in water vole populations were seen.

The American mink is not native to the UK and was originally brought to the country for fur farming.

“A peak was reached in the 1920s when mink fur was very popular,” said Dr Owen. “There were a lot of escapees from mink farms and also intentional releases by animal rights activists.”

She said there was no natural predator of the mink and they soon spread across the country.

Their impact on water vole numbers, which have undergone one of the most serious declines of any native British mammal over the last century, was particularly severe.

They also prey on birds eggs, hatchlings and small fish.

“Many people really only became aware of what a problem they were causing in the early 2000s,” said Dr Owen.

“It is difficult to know just how many there are out there but our trapping is having an effect and numbers are decreasing.”

Figures provided by the project reveal that the number of mink trapped in 2016 in Norfolk was down 33pc from the previous year.

The Bure catchment area saw the most significant reduction, where the number taken was down 55pc from 2015. Projects to eradicate the black ferret-sized carnivores are ongoing in Scotland, Wales and in other areas of England.

Local angling expert Roy Webster said otter were often unfairly criticised for the destruction caused by mink.

“Those of us well into our 80s, born in the Broads area, can recall the years when otters thrived before they became victims of deadly agricultural chemicals in their food chain,” he said.

“Most certainly their predatory activities did not affect the local bird population then for on Hickling Broad one annual coot shoot attended by royalty, downed a bag of 800 birds.”

Other news

29 minutes ago

The Breaking New Ground Landscape Partnership, which worked to reconnect people with the Brecks, has created a leaflet of walking trails for people to explore the beauty and diversity of the area.

32 minutes ago

Norfolk and Waveney is perhaps one of the best areas in country for seeing the natural world up close.

08:59

Snow could be on its way to Norfolk on Sunday as the temperatures plummet to below freezing overnight.

48 minutes ago

He loves a bit of fuss and attention – and now Reg wants to show someone his cuddly side in his quest for permanent new home.

Most Read

Yesterday, 08:55

A man has been arrested after driving a stolen tractor through a town centre.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:21

A damning dossier compiled by a senior whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year - including one person who froze to death.

Read more
Clive Lewis
Monday, January 25, 2016

It is a shocking murder mystery which has kept a community wondering for more than 40 years.

Read more
Thursday, February 6, 2014

It was its down-at-heel aura that first attracted Polly Grieff to the crumbling Old Manor at Saham Toney.

Read more
08:59

Snow could be on its way to Norfolk on Sunday as the temperatures plummet to below freezing overnight.

Read more
West Norfolk

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 3°C

min temp: -0°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Watton and Swaffham Times e-edition today
E-edition

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter