Thursday, February 3, 2011

American Mink in the River Dodder

Yesterday students from my undergraduate freshwater biology course and myself were out surveying the River Dodder in the heart of suburban Dublin. To our surprise we were able to observe mature American Mink patrolling the opposite bank completely at home and oblivious to all the activity going on. I have very rarely seen mink in the wild and was surprised to see it so well adapted to its urban environment. This voracious predator has had devastating impact on river wildlife, especially water voles, which are now classed as endangered, as well as wildfowl (e.g. moorhens, coots, widgeon and teal) and of course fish. It is perhaps our most problematic invasive species. This sighting comes at a time when the University of Aberdeen is leading a major eradication scheme in a number of Scottish rivers. So far 10,000 sq km of land in north-east Scotland has been cleared of mink. Below is an excellent video from the BBC of biologist Jamie Urquhart (River Don Trust) showing science reporter Rebecca Morelle how the mink are caught.

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