Mink and Water Vole

Water Voles, at least in part because of the introduction of American Mink, are suffering one of the most serious declines of any British mammal during the 20th century.

The American Mink (Mustela vison) was brought to Great Britain in the early 20th century for fur farming, but became established in the wild after escapes and deliberate releases.  By the middle of the 20th century mink had become widespread.  They are opportunistic predators and will take a wide variety of prey, often killing more than they require for food.

Among their prey is the native and protected Water Vole (Arvicola terrestris).  Since the introduction of mink, Water Voles have rapidly declined.  Recent surveys have found that Water Vole sites have diminished by as much as 94% and are 'one of the most rapid and serious declines of any British wild mammal during the 20th century' (Mammals of the British Isles 2008).  The problem has been exacerbated by habitat changes in the Water Vole's natural habitat.

Thin strip of image show tree trunk and bark