Tackling the issue of invasive American mink in northwestern Greece
The WildCRU have been carrying out research on American mink – their ecology, behaviour and management – for over 20 years, working in the UK, Estonia, Belarus and Patagonia. Last week Lauren Harrington, Senior Researcher at WildCRU, together with Sugoto Roy (IUCN) and Inigo Zuberogoitia (Icarus, Spain), was pleased to be able to share some of this experience with a team led by Dimitris Bakaloudis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) as part of a LIFE project to control non-native, invasive American mink in the Kastoria region of northwestern Greece, an important area for breeding and over-wintering birds. This will be the first project in Greece to tackle the issue of invasive species, and it comes with plenty of challenges since it is situated in an area where American mink are still farmed and the fur industry is important to the local economy. We spent two days touring the region and advising on methodology and strategy, focusing particularly on the use of mink rafts as an efficient monitoring and trapping tool. The trip ended with a workshop to address the technical planning aspects of the project, attended by the head of the Hellenic Fur Federation, the Forestry Service, and the Hunters Federation – the three of us (myself – Lauren, Sugoto and Inigo) gave short presentations on our own work on mink control, which were all very well received. This project will be important, not only for its local impact, but also by helping to lead the way in what is an increasingly difficult Europe-wide issue.