The American mink – known for its thick, dark, glossy fur – is an introduced predator that is very much out of place among the fauna of Norfolk and has a detrimental effect on the surrounding native wildlife.
These animals, descendants from mink that escaped or were intentionally released from fur farms, are an ‘alien’ species and do not fit properly into Norfolk’s ecology. The American mink is a very undesirable resident in Norfolk and certainly not to be encouraged; in fact, due to the damage the animal can cause to native wildlife, especially species such as the water vole, the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership is undertaking ongoing control programmes in mid-Norfolk and the Broads. Gamekeepers also undertake mink control in order to reduce predation of pheasants and partridge, all of which contributes to the control of this predator.
Mink also hunt water birds, such as moorhen and ducks, and a noticeable decline in numbers of birds may indicate that mink are in the area. Mink are aggressive predators and will overkill prey. They can cause significant damage to housed or penned game birds or poultry by killing large numbers, far more than they can eat, and they may also damage fish stocks.
Mink also predate the endangered water vole. One reason that mink cause such a problem for the species is that female and young mink are small and agile enough to follow a water vole into its burrow.
It used to be thought that mink displaced otters and were part of the reason for the otters’ decline. However, this is now thought not to be true, and although there is evidence that sometimes otters will actually kill mink, mink and otters co-exist throughout Norfolk.