30 August 2001
Anglian farmers told to shoot mink

By David Green

EAST Anglian farmers are being urged to trap and shoot mink because of the creatures impact on populations of endangered water voles.

The regions river valleys provide a refuge for the voles which live on the banks of waterways. But mink threaten to destroy conservation initiatives.

The Anglian Otters and Rivers Project is now appealing to farmers to step up their control of mink creatures first imported from the USA in the 1920s.

Many mink have escaped from fur farms over the past few decades and others have been released by so-called animal rights campaigners.

The animals are now breeding so well that conservationists are fearful that efforts to protect and enhance water vole populations are at risk.

Anglian Otters and Rivers Project officer Steve Hanson said wild mink were a national problem but it were especially prevalent in East Anglia.

The creatures tended to be well controlled on keepered estates and near commercial fisheries but few landowners found the time to trap and shoot them.

Mink can have three litters a year and there are usually five in each litter so, despite losses, the potential for population increase is huge, said Mr Hanson.

One of the areas thought to be most under threat is the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads which has a large water vole population.

Mr Hanson said a cull would be costly but funding was difficult to find from organisations that feared a backlash from animal rights campaigners.

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