American mink were originally brought to the UK for fur farming in the 1950s.

Following a number of releases by animal rights activists, the species has destroyed huge numbers of native animals in the UK, particularly water voles and ground-nesting birds.

Jonathan Reynolds, head of predation control at the GWCT, told Shooting Times the funding bid was still at a very early stage, but could be lodged by the end of the year: “We are currently trying to identify the best source of funding as there are several different options, including EU Life+ funding, which supports environmental and nature conservation projects throughout Europe. The trouble is that, whatever funding we secure, it will have to be matched by the partners.”

Possible funding partners include the Environment Agency and the Wildlife Trusts.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency told Shooting Times it was keen to see the funding secured: “Protecting the UK’s indigenous water vole population is hugely important. We will be at the forefront of the funding bid and will be contributing money to help match the EU funds.”

If the EU funding bid is successful, the money would be spent on trial trapping projects in areas across the UK where mink are abundant, such as the Cairngorms National Park, East Yorkshire and Somerset.

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