The mink is a medium-sized member of the weasel family. The first American mink were brought to British fur farms in 1929 and all wild mink in Britain today are descendants of escapees or illegal releases. The natural wild colouring is a glossy dark brown, appearing almost black in some light. Mink spend up to 80% of their time in their dens, sleeping, grooming and eating food they have carried home. Frequently found near water, they are often mistaken for otters, although mink are in fact considerably smaller. Mink are a major factor in the decimation of the water vole population, because they are small enough to follow their prey down its burrow. They are highly effective predators and, given the opportunity, will kill far more than they can carry away and eat. They are major predators of much of our native wildlife and should be controlled at every opportunity.
Best Methods for Controlling your Pest
DIY or The Professionals?
- Fortunately, mink are relatively easy to trap and so can be a DIY task.
- However, if you feel you will have difficulty killing the mink, it's better call in professional help.
Mink have only one weakness - they cannot resist exploring tunnels and that enables us to control them. There are two effective methods to trap mink:
- Live Capture Cage Traps: are based on a tunnel system where the mink enters the tunnel to take a bait, or out of curiosity and the trap springs, closing the doors and containing the animal alive. This has important advantages over a lethal trap because a non-target capture, like a moorhen, water vole or anything else can be released un-harmed. The cage trap most suitable for mink is the British built Albion Cage Trap. We recommend this method for trapping mink.
- Lethal Catch Traps: are based on a tunnel system where the mink enters the tunnel to take a bait, or out of curiosity and steps on the trap treadle plate, releasing the spring trap and quickly killing the animal. The traps used are the Fenn Mk 6 traps. A great deal more skill is required to operate these traps without endangering non-target species so we don't recommend this system for trapping mink.
Here is how to catch that mink:
- First, make sure that the animal you are targeting is a mink, and not an otter. Is it a mink or an otter?
- Using cage traps in conjunction with mink rafts ensures maximum efficiency and mink capture rates.
Locating the Trap:
- Place the trap alongside a watercourse, ditch or pond, on an island or besides fallen watersite trees; anywhere that looks as if it might be an interestng place for a mink to explore.
- Don't place traps in the open where people can see them, where livestock can interfere with them or more than a metre or so from the waters edge.
When to trap:
- Best between January and March as this effectively removes a breeding population.
- From August to November to catch dispersing family individuals.
- No need to have a trap out continuously if you use the mink raft as the footprints left on the clay base will indicate when there is a mink in the area, then you just set the trap accordingly.
- If you have mink on your water system, you should monitor with the mink raft regulerly as there is always likely to be re-infestation on an annual basis as other mink look for new territories.
Setting the Trap:
- Mink are inquisitive and love to investigate new and interesting holes so locate the trap where you are able to create an interesting experiance for the mink.
- Make sure the trap is located above any potential rise in water level.
- Cover the trap with grasses, leaves, sticks or turf. Not only will that make the tunnel interesting, but any trapped animal will be able to pull grass and turf into the trap to make a warm bed.
- Make sure the trap is stable and won't rock as the animal enters. Mink will not enter and unstable trap.
- A well located and set trap will not need bait, but if you want to try bait, the best is a section of eel or you could use any fish or even a fishy cat food.
Checking the Trap:
- It is a legal requirement to check daily, and a moral responsibility to check the trap twice daily, morning and evening.
- If you know you are not going to be able to check it next day, then just de-activate the trap for the duration.
- If you catch a mink, remember that it is illegal to release it elsewhere, you must dispatch it.
Dispatching the mink:
- The only acceptable way to dispatch a trapped mink is to kill it with a clean shot through the head.
- The best weapon to achieve this clean kill is a .22 calibre rimfire rifle. A shotgun or a powerful air rifle are also suitable for dispatching a mink.
- Before trapping commences make sure you have a suitable means of dispatch organised.
- The body should be buried soon after in a suitable location.
If you don't have a suitable weapon to dispatch the mink, make an arrangement to take the animal to a local gamekeeper for dispatch. Cover the cage with sacking during transport in order to minimise stress to the animal.