American Mink

The American Mink (Neovison vison or Mustela vison) is a small mammal, semi-aquatic mammal. They occupy both freshwater and saltwater habitats and can live in rivers, lochs, and around the coast.

Mink are mustelids, and so are related to species such as the otter, stoat, weasel, and pine martin. They have dark brown fur (although they can sometimes be black), a narrow snout, and a white patch on their chin or throat, however, this is not always present.

American Mink, SISI

American mink are solitary creatures and are defensive of their own territories. Female territories span a linear distance of 1-3km, with male territories being larger (up to 5km) and overlapping several female territories.

Mink are carnivores and eat a wide variety of prey such as rabbits, rats, birds, fish and domestic fowl. They are known as surplus killers and will often kill more prey than they intend to eat. Their mating season spans from February to April, and the kits are born in April and May. By 14 weeks of age, the young are fully independent and will reach sexual maturity by the following spring.

From a fisheries perspective, mink can have a significant impact on juvenile salmonid populations. As surplus killers, they are also responsible for serious declines in populations of ground-nesting birds and water voles. We are indebted to our small team of dedicated volunteers who have monitored, trapped, and dispatched mink since the project began in 2018 and we will be pleased to welcome new volunteers to help widen our monitoring area.

Skye is not included in the SISI mink management programme, however, it is clear that there is an increasing population of these invasive mammals on the island. SLRT is not able to provide traps or dispose of any mink that are caught, but if you contact us we will try to find a qualified individual in your area that might be able to help. Find some helpful information on SISI’s mink control programme here.

salmon sketch subject to copyright s. mckenzie

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