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Catchment Management

Mink Invasion Blights East Yorkshire Wildlife

Wildlife organisations and landowners across East Yorkshire are coming together in an effort to battle back against an invasion of North American mink which is killing off native wildlife.

The scale of the problem first came to light following monitoring carried out at Yorkshire Water-owned Tophill Low Nature reserve, near Driffield, which revealed numbers of the alien pest are at their highest in 12 years.

Targets for the mink include the already endangered water vole, rabbits, ducks, chickens, fish and frogs and the problem has prompted a coordinated response from the key players involved in the surrounding area.

Yorkshire Water will is 40 mink rafts for distribution to farmers, landowners and river keepers along the River Hull. If the animal’s spread isn’t curtailed it could have a significant detrimental impact on some of East Yorkshire’s most beloved wildlife.

Not only will the invaders have a serious effect on prey, they could also ruin the survival chances of the area’s natural predators, like marsh harriers, by taking their food.

It was after setting up a number of new trail cameras at the reserve in collaboration with Hull University that staff became aware of just how serious the mink problem had become on the reserve.

Richard Hampshire, warden at Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low Nature Reserve, explained: “We’ve historically got one mink every six months or so but then we had four in September and the latest footage from our trail cameras have captured several more.

“That puts our number for the year close to around 10 and that’s the worst it’s been since 2002. It’s likely that they’ve been attracted to our site because of how well the water voles are doing at Tophill Low.

“We’re worried by the situation and that’s why we’re acting with a number of figures in the local community to try and reduce their numbers now before our own native species suffer.”

American mink are thought to have first been brought over to British fur farms in 1929 and their numbers have steadily increased since after escapes or releases by protestors.

The small mammals are a serious threat to native populations across the UK but particularly water voles because they are small enough to follow them into their burrows.

Water voles are already classified as one of the most at threat native species in the UK and American mink are thought to play a major role in their demise.

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