Details of this species in Scotland
Source: MacDonald and Harrington, 2003
Introduction: Unintentional (accidentally)
Species Notes for this Location:
The first Scottish fur farm opened in 1938 (Green and Green, 2004). The first Mustela vison (American mink) escaped the same year. By the 1980s, there were no fur farms remaining in Scotland, and mink farming was prohibited on any island where they were not already present, and in Caithness and Sutherland, under The Mink (Keeping) Order, 1987.
By 1962-1964, mink were breeding in Aberdeenshire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Lewis and the Borders. Colonisation by mink in Scotland has taken longer than in the rest of the UK, and has occurred in the context of an increasing otter (Lutra lutra) population. Records suggest an overall increase in mink numbers in the 1990s, although anecdotal evidence suggests mink may be declining in some parts of Scotland (Green and Green, 2004).
Management Notes for this Location:
Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prohibits release or escape of American mink into the wild (Macdonald et al., undated), and fur farming is now outlawed (Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000; in Reynolds et al., 2004). In England and Wales, mink have been controlled using three main methods (Macdonald et al., undated): trapping, hunting with hounds on foot, and shooting. Trapping (killing or live capture traps) is the main method used. In the 1960s, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food trapped over 5000 mink in England and Wales, with a similar effort occurring in Scotland by the Department of Agriculture. By the mid 1970s, the attempt was seen as futile and was abandoned. More recently, trapping is used as a conservation tool at water vole sites, as well as by farmers, gamekeepers, angling clubs etc. Hunting with hounds was also widespread. An estimated 400-1400 mink were killed by registered minkhound packs annually (many of which previously hunted otters prior to this species' protection), until hunting with dogs was made illegal in 2005 in England and Wales. Conservationists believe that mink hunting has the potential to cause disturbance to other wildlife, such as otter. Shooting is mostly ad hoc, carried out by farmers and gamekeepers. The majority of mink are killed during winter or in autumn when juveniles are dispersing. It is unlikely that any current method of control in the UK could achieve eradication, and it is recommended that mink control be prioritised in areas of high conservation concern, such as areas with populations of water voles. Macdonald and Strachan (1999; in Macdonald et al., undated) recommend that control is carried out between January and April in the UK, to target breeding females. A mink control programme is currently underway in Scotland's Western Isles.
Predation: During the 1990s, the Mustela vison has seriously affected the nesting success of several ground-nesting bird species on the west coast of Scotland, such as the black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus, 52% decline), common gull (Larus canus, 30%), and common tern (Sterna hirundo, 37%) (Craik 1990, 1993, 1995, 1997).
Last Modified: 13/03/2006 12:34:08 p.m.