Launching the Mink Monitoring Network

Courtney Brain

Controlling American mink is an important and necessary step we are taking to protect our precious native species, such as the Water vole.

Spring is here and we are very excited to be launching our Mink Monitoring Network in the Test and Itchen River Catchment as part of the Test & Itchen Invasive Non Native Species Project (T&I INNS Project). Since the T&I INNS project began in 2021, our Project Coordinator Courtney has been working behind the scenes to prepare for the launch of the Mink Monitoring Network this spring.

The non native American mink made their way into our river networks following the collapse of the fur trade industry in the 1950’s, and have since established wild populations throughout much of Great Britain. These predators kill for fun, and can have devastating impacts on native biodiversity such as ground nesting birds, water voles and fish. The mink is closely linked to the 94% collapse of native water vole populations throughout the UK and the Test and Itchen river catchment. They are an invasive and opportunistic predator, so it is vital that we control mink populations on a catchment scale to protect our native biodiversity.

The Mink Monitoring Network will consist of over 70 rafts tethered to the riverbank at fixed locations throughout the waterways of the Test and Itchen. The network aims to ultimately reduce mink numbers in the catchment, identify potential entry pathways to the catchment, and inform wider management strategies with neighbouring catchments. The monitoring rafts attract inquisitive mink, and other mammals, to travel through the tunnel and leave their tracks in the clay pad lining. When mink tracks have been recorded, a humane trap is then placed in the tunnel and any mink caught are dispatched by trained designated individuals.

Over the course of March, Courtney has delivered just over a third of the rafts which will be deployed and monitored on a weekly basis by a network of dedicated volunteers and river keepers. WessexRT will provide each site with a mink raft and the associated accessories, mammal track and spraint guides, and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust Guidelines. The traps and combs will be available on request on a short term basis, which will allow us to monitor trapping activity on a catchment scale.

If you want to know more about the project, or follow the progress of the Mink Monitoring Network, then head over to the T&I INNS Project Portal for updates: