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Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Friday, 4 February 2011
Mink eradication plan to help north Kent water voles
Water vole
Water voles could make a return to the north Kent marshes

A wildlife trust is hoping to get funds for a project to eradicate American mink from an area of Kent.

The mink were imported in the 1950s for their fur, and some escaped.

Naturalists blame the population of imported animals for the decline in some of our most popular native species.

Kent Wildlife Trust want to set up traps in an area of north Kent in an attempt to eradicate the mink so that water voles can be reintroduced.

The trust also wants to protect existing water vole populations on the Isle of Sheppey and the Hoo peninsula.

The planned 155 sq mile-zone would stretch from Gravesend in the east to Seasalter in the west, and include the Hoo peninsula and Isle of Sheppey.

Clearing the mink

Conservationists blame the American mink, which has no natural predators, for wreaking havoc on populations of native species.

A trapped American mink
A similar eradication scheme has been successful in Scotland

Alan Johnson from the RSPB said the trenches in the north Kent wetlands were an ideal habitat for plants, invertebrates and other species such as water voles.

"Those species aren't here, and that's probably because of the mink," he said.

A mink raft would used to help clear the species. The animals jump on the raft to investigate, they are then caught in a trap, collected and destroyed.

"We are bound by the sea on the northern end and we have a railway and a road on the southern end, and we'll work our way across the marshes," said Beth Nightingale from the Kent Wildlife Trust.

The rafts would be set up at 1km intervals along the ditches to cover the whole area of marsh.

The plan is then to reintroduce the water vole into certain areas. It is hoped that they will then breed and thrive in the land they once inhabited.

The planned mink eradication zone



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