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Last Updated: Monday, 24 January, 2005, 17:41 GMT
Mink being wiped out in Hebrides
Mink is being wiped out on South Uist and Benbecula
An environmental project to eradicate mink from the Hebridean islands is being hailed a success.

The Hebridean Mink Project plan for complete eradication of American mink from North Uist and Benbecula is on track to be achieved on time.

The animals are not native to the UK and pose a threat to at least five sites with significant populations of ground nesting birds.

The mink were bred on farms in the area during the 1960s and 1970s.

Researchers have found there are very few male mink left and more females are being trapped after dogs have located their den sites.

This stage of the project, which has cost 1.65m and employs 25 people, should be completed within 15 months.

Another culling project is planned for the whole of Lewis and Harris to stop the minks spreading and re-colonising once more.

Mink are non-native predators, which will take large quantities of eggs, chicks and adult birds
David MacLennan
Project chairman

The 3m second phase will ensure the whole of the Western Isles are free from the animals within six years, and in the long-term is perceived as more cost effective than permanently trapping on certain islands.

Project chairman David MacLennan said: "The Uists include some of Europe's most important areas for species of wild birds, many of which nest on the ground.

"Mink, meanwhile, are non-native predators, which will take large quantities of eggs, chicks and adult birds.

"In addition to this, mink also impact directly or indirectly on crofting, fishing, fish farming and tourism, so we are really pleased with the progress that has been made so far by the Hebridean Mink Project.

"Sooner or later mink will again make their way over the Sound of Harris to the Uists and pose the same serious threats."

Mr MacLennan said the plan to eradicate mink from the whole of the Western Isles will cost about 3m and is expected to take about six years.

"There is no doubt it is costly, but not as costly in the long run, particularly in terms of our native wildlife, as allowing mink to remain," he added.

The organisations behind the initiative are Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Executive, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Western Isles Enterprise, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Central Science Laboratory.

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