Wildlife protected by the Hunting Act: Mink
The American Mink can be distinguished from Otters by their smaller size, darker, almost black fur, and small white chin and throat, and are much more likely to be seen than the shy and secretive Otter.
The average lifespan of an American Mink is 8 to 10 years in the wild.
Habitat and Range
- Mink escaped from fur farms in the 1950s and 1960s (originally brought over from native North America) and now breed across most of the country.
- Mink are widespread, throughout Great Britain and Ireland except the far north of Scotland and some islands.
- Mink are essentially amphibious, and are typically found along rivers and coastal area as well as in; farmland, towns and gardens.
Diet and Feeding
- Mink eat a wide range of mammals, birds and fish, typically about a third of the diet coming from each; in some areas they also eat invertebrates, such as crabs and crayfish.
- Mink are active predators, feeding on anything they are big enough to catch, including our native Water Voles, which are now under threat of extinction. They hunt on the riverbanks and are good swimmers, enabling them to enter the water-line burrows of Water Voles.
- The female mink has just one litter a year, and young mink are born blind and hairless, in litters of 4-6, in May. They begin to take meat from 5-6 weeks, and reach adult size by the autumn.
- Mink can breed at just one year old.
Status and Threats
- Mink are now widespread and are unfortunately a major threat to the survival of our native Water Vole. Adapting well to a life on our waterways, the American Mink has the capability of wiping out whole Water Vole populations; female Mink are small enough to enter the burrows and take young Water Voles. The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to save the Water Vole by improving riverbank habitats, controlling Mink and being involved in Water Vole reintroduction schemes.
Conservation Status and Public Opinion on Mink Hunting
Mink are considered an invasive, non-native species.
However, we believe that Mink also have a right to be protected like any other wild animal so if they are to be controlled it should be undertaken only by professional organisations, and in the most humane way possible.
Hunting mink and most wild mammals with dogs is illegal in the UK on animal welfare grounds.
Information provided by the The Mammal Society and The Wildlife Trusts
Reporting Wildlife Crime
The best way to report hunting mink with dogs including suspicious hunting behaviour is to call the Police Wildlife Crimeline on 101.
Further Reading & Useful Links
Species Factsheet: American Mink (Neovison vison)
America Mink and How to Identify