Notice of evening presentations on the 11th and 12th of May 2016 by Dr Xavier Lambin of Aberdeen University regarding his work on the Scottish Mink Initiative (SMI) – the largest eradication project for North American Mink in Europe.
The once common water vole is now considered to be largely extinct in Devon and Cornwall. Predation by non-native North American mink has been widely associated with its decline elsewhere. Water voles have no developed defence against this versatile hunter which can follow them into their burrow systems and kill whole colonies swiftly. Mink began breeding in the southwest in the early years of the 20thcentury as a result of escapes from fur farms. Although by the late 1980’s they were widespread their exact status is currently unclear and the results of monitoring projects, landowner surveys or mink hunts all indicate that while they were common 15-20 years ago they have now undergone a decline.
While we now know from experience elsewhere that water voles are a robust species which can re-colonise lowland environments rapidly they can only do so in environments where robust populations survive. Although there are reintroduced populations of water voles in Cornwall and Devon the nearest substantial wild populations exist in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. Further reintroductions of captive bred individuals will therefore be required if water voles are to return on a landscape scale to the southwest. A recent study undertaken by the Environment Agency demonstrates that much otherwise suitable habitat still remains and the experience gained from the SMI illustrates that the eradication of mink on a landscape scale is perfectly practicable.
In response to a consultation project involving landowners, anglers, gamekeepers and nature conservation organisations in 2015 which demonstrated broad support in principal for a project of this type in the southwest two meetings are now being planned in Cornwall on the 11th of May in the Antony Room of the Royal Cornwall Show Ground (7pm –9pm) and at Upcott Grange farm, Broadwoodwidger, Lifton, Devon, PL16 0JS in the education room (7pm-9pm) with Dr Xavier Lambin. All interested parties and individuals are welcome. To pre-book a place please follow the link to our EventBrite page.