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Wild Mink

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is on dealing with wild mink in the countryside. [126766]

American mink are an invasive nonnative species and were introduced into Great Britain for fur farming in 1929. Release of mink into the wild is prohibited under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Their population has continued to increase in range and numbers it is thought the rate of increase is declining.The responsibility for the control of feral mink rests with those people most likely to benefit from such control, that is, individual landowners and occupiers. It is entirely at their discretion as to whether they wish to take such action against mink on their land.However, predation by mink has been a factor in the decline of our native water vole population. The Government's Biodioversity Action Plan (BAP) for water vole encourages humane control of mink where they pose a threat to water vole populations.There are various initiatives under way, limited geographically and financially, including some mink trapping in river catchments, supported by combinations of the Environment Agency (the lead organisation for the water vole BAP), English Nature and the local Wildlife Trusts, and other conservation organisations. These aim for local suppression of mink numbers, for example to assist water vole populations, rather than eradication.Defra has no current plans for an eradication programme given the wide distribution of mink and the costs associated using current techniques for control.