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Volume 933: debated on Monday 13 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what estimate he has made of the increase in the population of feral mink over the last 10 years;(2) what estimate he has made of the numbers of feral mink in each of the regions;(3) what steps he is taking to eliminate feral mink.

I recognise that this non-indigenous species is now widely present in Scotland, mainly along rivers, but no realistic estimates of numbers are available. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland is at all times willing to give advice on control techniques to all concerned, and is prepared to lend, when available, suitable traps. Pest control is, in general, the responsibility of occupiers and further activity on my right hon. Friend's part would not be justified.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the damage to fishing caused by mink in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available.

No estimates are available of the damage done by mink to fisheries.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what precautions he is taking to prevent the spread of rabies through mink.

The Government's policy is to keep rabies out of Great Britain. Mink, like most other mammals, may be imported only under licence and subject to six months quarantine.Should rabies occur in captive mink, the premises concerned would be declared an infected place under the Rabies (Control) Order 1974 and restrictions would be imposed to prevent any spread of the disease. In the event of a rabies outbreak in wildlife, the Rabies Act 1974 provides powers for the destruction within an infected area of such species as may be prescribed. This would include feral mink should they be considered to be acting as vectors of the disease. There is, however, no record of mink having been a significant vector.