Wild mink flee to islands as trappers protect birds
on 27/08/2013 00:00:00
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has recruited trappers for predators such as feral mink, grey crows and foxes for the past six years. They have been bidding to save endangered species, including the corncrake.
Pat Warner of the NPWS said the number of wild mink, which colonised the west and north-west, had gone down considerably.
In the region between Athlone and Portumna, known as the Shannon Callows, he reckoned humane destruction of mink by assigned trappers was down from 40 a few years ago to about 10 this year.
Now, some of them were settling on islands and attacking breeding nests.
Trappers were assigned to Inishmurray five days ago when it was reported mink were attacking breeding nests there.
He said: "Even one mink can be enough in a colony of nesting birds. We are concentrating on off-shore islands because mink are tough little devils. They are water-based and they swim from headland to headland on the mainland. Then they look out to sea and spot an island and swim out there. That's what we believe is happening. They are certainly not arriving in fishing boats."
American mink arrived in Ireland in the 1970s for fur-farming. Some escaped and targeted hen runs.
Mr Warner reckoned the mink population was now decreasing, an improvement he didn't expect.
Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan acknowledged that the programme of control of feral mink and other predators was successful in the protection of corncrake and other rare ground breeding birds such as terns