The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Volunteers needed to monitor mink rafts in Scotland

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) is looking for assistance with American mink control and monitoring

setting up a mink raft

Setting up a mink raft on the Conon river

A major Scottish project to remove American mink is looking for volunteers to help run mink rafts.

Ben Seaman, with the Cromarty Firth Fishery Trust, said: “We monitor for mink presence using a network of mink rafts which are looked after by volunteers….we have gaps in the network we’d like to fill – in particular, we’d love more help along the Cromarty Firth and the Dornoch Firth.  So if anyone living in Cromarty, Invergordon, Alness and Evanton areas or in Bonar Bridge, Dornoch, Loch Fleet and Golspie areas is interested in getting involved they should get in touch for more information.”

mink footprints

Telltale footprints in clay show that a mink has visited the raft

How mink rafts work

Mink rafts contain a clay pad hidden inside a tunnel. Volunteers check the raft for footprints every fortnight and if a mink is present a live capture trap is set so the animal can be humanely despatched.

American mink in cage

American mink in a live capture trap

Shooting UK spoke to Vicky Hilton of Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) who warned: “Mink will eat almost anything that nests on the ground, the eggs and chicks of curlews, lapwings, oystercatchers, snipe as well as pheasants and grouse.”

Mink became established in the wild in the 1960s having escaped from fur farms and are dispersing widely across the country. Vicky Hilton continued: “Numbers are in the tends of thousands – there is no way to give an accurate figure.”

Professor Xavier Lambin, from the University of Aberdeen School of Biological Sciences, said: “The American mink is an opportunistic predator which is also a very effective coloniser of new areas.  Mink can travel large distances to take up new territories (25% will travel 80km to take up a territory) and so control needs to be on a large scale to protect cleared areas from re-colonisation. ”

Anyone interested in becoming a mink raft volunteer should contact Cromarty Firth Fishery Trust biologist Ben Seaman on [email protected]