Mink project seeks out new volunteers

Mink monitoring raft 2 (c) Scottish Invasive Species
Mink monitoring raft 2 (c) Scottish Invasive Species

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative is appealing for volunteers to come forward to help monitor for mink which are on the move this month after breeding earlier in the year.

Juvenile American mink are now leaving their home territories and striking out on their own - meaning that this is a crucial time for detecting and controlling them before they establish in new areas and impact on our native wildlife, particularly Deeside where the species is known to be active.

The American mink was brought to Scotland for fur-farming and has been living wild in the countryside for over 50 years. Their presence in the countryside can have a devastating effect on native Scottish wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds and iconic water vole populations.

Project Officer with the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, Al Reeve, who covers the Rivers Deveron, Bogie and Isla, 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.”

That help is now needed in the Donside area. So if anyone living along the Inverurie, Kintore or Dyce corridor and also the Old Rayne/Insch area is interested in getting involved they should get in touch with Estee Farrar for more information by emailing: invasivecoordinator@riverdee.org or calling 07769 314130.

Monitoring a mink raft requires no previous experience. The project team provide all equipment, full training, will help set the raft up and are always contactable if you need help or advice.

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 dispatched by the project team.

Scottish Invasive Species Initiative Project Manager, Callum Sinclair, added: “Our project is working at a large scale across much of northern Scotland and that means we are monitoring for mink across many river catchments, but this is only effective if we have a comprehensive network of rafts. We still have gaps in our coverage and so are always on the look-out for volunteers to adopt mink rafts and traps in specific key areas. The success of our mink control work hangs on the support and dedication of our network of volunteers helping monitor for mink presence and support their removal.”