Hebridean Mink Project
The main objective of the Hebridean Mink Project is to eradicate American mink totally from the Western isles, thus preventing further significant disturbance and losses to our internationally important populations of ground nesting birds.
The first phase of the Hebridean Mink Project was started in 2001. It sought to protect the internationally important ground nesting and migratory birds, particularly those regularly found within Special Protection Areas on the Outer Isles. American mink escaped from fur farm in the 1950’s and 60’s. They are aggressive predators and prey on ground nesting wader birds eggs and young. The project eradicated non native American mink from the islands of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist and to reduce their numbers significantly in South Harris. . Phase one was completed in March 2006.
Phase two started immediately after the successful programme in the Uists ended in March 2006. It saw active management extend northwards into Lewis and Harris. The first and possibly most important stage was to establish a buffer zone for the Uists. To achieve this a concentrated trapping effort began initially on South Harris. Targeted trapping around established tern colonies was undertaken. However, the majority of trapping was, and continues to be, carried out in a concerted and methodical manner, beginning in South Harris before gradually moving north and west through Lewis towards Ness. This takes approximately 7 months to complete. Then the whole process begins all over again. Around 7500 traps are permanently in place in Lewis and Harris and are operated on a rotational basis. Phase two will be completion in 2011 and will hopefully see the total eradication of American mink from the whole Western Isles archipelago. As a result it is hoped that the vulnerable bird species population will recover.