Eradicating invasive mink from Britain a 'realistic dream'


Total eradication of the invasive American Mink from British waters is now a "realistic dream", according to environmentalists.

The Waterlife Recovery Trust (WRT) has laid hundreds of traps in waterways across eastern England as part of a world-first trial. The organisation said the pilot had been a success, with no evidence of mink reproduction during the 2023 breeding season in the areas trialled.

WRT wants to expand the scheme across Britain to help native animals recover – there has been a 97% decline in Water Vole numbers since 1950, for example.

A large-scale mink eradication scheme has commenced in eastern England (WRT).

Previous attempts to fully eradicate mink had been unsuccessful due to a lack of funding.

Professor Tony Martin, chair of WRT said: "Until now, the complete removal of American Mink from Britain has been an impossible dream, but the success of this trial offers hope that a century of catastrophic damage to precious native wildlife can be brought to an end.

"It's now a race against time to eradicate mink before they wipe out the last of our Water Voles and drive the final nail into the coffin of seabird colonies already hammered by avian influenza."

WRT, along with hundreds of conservation volunteers, laid 441 'smart cage traps' across eastern England, with a focus on Norfolk and Suffolk. A 60-km-wide 'buffer zone' was also established in parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to prevent mink entering the area from the west and the south.

Following the trial's success, the WRT has secured a grant of £500,000 from Natural England to expand its work across the area, from the Thames to mid-Lincolnshire. A second grant from Natural England is also being used to maintain the trapping network in and around Norfolk and Suffolk to prevent mink "sneaking in from elsewhere".