Traps Scented Like Mink Butts Could Be Key to Removing the Invasive Species From the U.K.

The American mink, native to North America, is a semiaquatic mustelid that is often farmed for its fur. Ryzhkov Sergey under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED Large numbers of American mink—coveted for their fur, used to make coats, bags and other luxury items—were brought to the United Kingdom decades ago by traders. The mammals lived in captivity and reproduced in fur farms, which numbered in the hundreds at the industry’s height during the 1950s . But soon, the minks escaped from these farms, and some were freed by animal rights activists in the 1990s. When they entered British and Irish ecosystems, the non-native creatures disrupted—and in some cases, entirely decimated—local wildlife populations that had not adapted to their hunger and keen hunting skills. Using their exacting sense of smell, minks prey on small animals—including salmon, moorhens, kingfishers and frogs. They gobble up nestfuls of rodents called water voles, which have declined by about 96 percent in Britain since 1950. And regional seabird populations, which are already suffering due to avian influenza outbreaks, have accordingly dropped where minks are present, as they often eat eggs and chicks near shores. The destructive species has become a thorn in the side of biologists, who for years have tried and failed to eradicate the animals. Now, however, a trial using 441 new “smart” traps has eliminated minks from about 5 percent of England, effectively clearing them from an area in the region of East Anglia. A mink farm in Cornwall, England, on July 9, 1958. Fur farming was banned in England in 2000. Fox Photos via Getty Images Until recently, it was widely considered that minks had become too established in the English wild to ever be completely removed. But that was before Tony Martin, a world-renowned expert in addressing non-native predators, turned his […]

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By Donato