American mink are an invasive non-native species which can decimate local water vole populations as well as being a problem for other animals like fish and ground nesting birds. They are skilled predators who, by virtue of their small size and semi aquatic lifestyle, fill a niche in our food chain that none of our native species have evolved alongside. In particular, our native water voles unfortunately are completely defenceless against them.
Late Summer/early Autumn is ‘dispersal season’ for young mink, meaning that the young born this year are leaving their mothers and exploring out to find their own territory. We want to detect mink as soon as possible after they begin to disperse to help coordinate our water vole recovery work. During their first few weeks leaving the den, mink will stick to a fairly small range but as their confidence grows they will begin wandering over much larger distances searching for new breeding territories. Once females settle into a breeding territory in the Spring they will once aging stick to a very small area near their dens again until the next dispersal season. Females born this year will be breeding in the spring and a single breeding female mink can cause a local water vole population extinction in a single season while feeding her young.