As some of the blog readers may be aware, the Spey Foundation contributes to the Scottish Mink Initiative, a project covering the majority of Scotland aiming to eradicate the invasive American Mink from Scotland. The American Mink was either deliberately or accidentally released in the 20th century whilst being farmed in Britain for its fur. Being an adaptable, opportunistic animal, it has successfully established itself in Britain and causes problems for native fish, birds and small mammals such as the water vole due to them all being preyed on by Mink.
It is therefore hoped that the project can help to remove it and give native species a better chance of survival. Although the Spey Foundation co-ordinates the project within the Spey catchment, the project is reliant on a network of volunteers monitoring for signs of mink. With 3000km2 to cover, it requires a significant number of volunteers and monitoring rafts to ensure there is effective coverage. Numbers of mink sightings and captures have decreased overall since the project began in 2011, and water voles are appearing in areas they previously haven’t been seen. It is easy to get complacent when this happens as there tends to be the view that mink are no longer a problem. However since the start of 2015, there have been 9 sightings of mink in the catchment, indicating there are still populations around and it’s so important that we don’t let them get hold. So we are looking to recruit some new volunteers to improve our coverage of monitoring rafts. We will provide all of the equipment needed along with training. All that is required is that you check a monitoring raft for footprints of the mink once every 10 days, and submit the results onto an online database. The raft would require a watercourse of some description (even a small pond is ideal!) to float on, and it will be located in an area that is easily accessible and safe for you to get to. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, and would like to know more about the project or the prospect of volunteering, then please have a look at the SMI website or contact the office on 01340 810841 for more information.