The american mink: The triumph and tragedy of adaptation out of context
MaCdonald DW., Harrington LA.
The American mink has spread widely beyond its native North America due to the activities of fur traders. The mink is an extremely adaptable, generalist predator. Over two continents, the American mink is associated with problems in the conservation of local species because of their impact on both prey and competitors. Here, we review the impact of American mink on native species, stemming from over a decade of research, and concentrate on two examples: the impact of American mink on the water vole in Britain and on the European mink in Eastern Europe. While the near extinction of the water vole in Britain and that of the European mink in Eastern Europe are largely due to predation and interspecific aggression, respectively, both may have been affected by a multitude of factors acting synergistically. Terns, and other seabirds, are impacted by mink predation; the effect on riparian bird species is less clear but may potentially be high. Emerging principles, supported by preliminary evidence, suggest that the return of the larger otter in the United Kingdom may be detrimental to mink populations. The impact of, or on, the current recovery of the polecat in the United Kingdom is unknown but evidence from Eastern Europe suggests that American mink negatively affect at least female polecats. We conclude by briefly presenting two case studies of small‐scale mink removal and discuss considerations for future control projects. To mitigate mink impact on a larger scale we suggest a holistic approach, involving mink removal, habitat restoration, and recovery of native competitors. © 2003 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.