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Saving the water vole

PUBLISHED: 05:36 01 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

LANDOWNERS are to be trained in how to trap mink as conservationists try to save the water vole from extinction.

Around 30 local landowners are expected to attend a training day on mink trapping organised by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

LANDOWNERS are to be trained in how to trap mink as conservationists try to save the water vole from extinction.

Around 30 local landowners are expected to attend a training day on mink trapping organised by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. The event will be held in Framlingham next month .

The American mink is a recent introduction to Britain, having escaped from fur farms and established itself along watercourses since the 1950s.

In recent years, the feral mink population has boomed, and the mink is now widespread across England and Wales, including Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

Mink prey on the endangered water vole, which has become the fastest declining mammal in Britain.

It has been estimated that they could be extinct within five years unless urgent action is taken, and the threat has become a priority concern for Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Wetland officer and course trainer Penny Hempill said in Suffolk they had been quite forward thinking about the problem, and the trust had already run successful trapping projects along the Rivers Alde and Fynn last year.

This year, they are looking to include the Rivers Dove, Alde/Ore, Blythe, Deben and Gipping.

“The mink problem is massive. Mink are increasing at the rate that water vole are declining,” she said. “Mink are fast covering all the river catchments within Suffolk.”

The response from landowners to the initiative had been “fantastic”, she said.

“The ultimate aim of this is to maintain and improve the water vole population,” she explained. “East Anglia has a reasonable population compared to the rest of the country.”

It was important to cover as much as the river catchment as possible in order to control the whole area, she said.

“The only way really to begin controlling mink at the present time is to encourage landowners to take part in the scheme and patrol their own bit of land along the river,” she said.

“By working together with landowners we can help address this problem. Course participants with water vole on their land will learn how to set up mink traps, shown how to check them twice daily to avoid unnecessary suffering and finally dispose of the mink humanely. The day will wind up with a visit to Trust reserve Framlingham Mere to see the traps in situ.”

There are still spaces available on the course, and she appealed for landowners with land along the rivers they were targeting to take part.

The trust is also compiling data on mink numbers and is keen to hear of other landowners who have been controlling mink on their land by either shooting or trapping in the recent past.

The training day takes place on Saturday, February 8 at Framlingham scout hut.

For more information, contact Penny on 01473 890089 or 07747 016923.


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