American mink have had an enormous impact on Britain’s wildlife for over 50 years. Yet sightings of this predatory animal have declined. What will the impact be for our native wildlife, and are we being complacent in assuming that the species will continue to dwindle?
Statistics in the Mammal Society’s recently published IUCN Regional Red List suggest that mink numbers in Britain could have fallen by as much as 45% in the last 20 years. Prof. Fiona Mathews, Chair of the Mammal Society says “Invasive non-native species are one of the primary causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. In our recent review of Britain’s mammals, we found that most of the species that were doing well were not native. We urgently need to understand their impacts on the rest of our wildlife. Mink were an exception, and seem to be in decline”.
Kate Hills, Vice-Chair of the Mammal Society and Non-Native Ecologist at South West Water, says “Mink have long been an unwelcome presence in Britain’s landscape. They are clever versatile mammals, so why the decline? Could the catastrophic fall in the numbers of water voles – formerly a favoured food source, and one of most rapidly disappearing mammal – mean that insufficient prey is available to support mink? Mink are generalist predators, taking a wide array of prey items, but it seems that rabbits – one of their other main prey species – could also be in decline.”
Speakers at the Mammal Society and GB Non-Native Species Secretariat Non-Native Species Symposium, to be held on 9th & 10th November at Arup in London, will be examining the reasons for this decline and the likely consequences for Britain’s ecology.
“The impact of non-native species is without doubt a national problem with wide ranging implications.” Kate explains “As well as reviewing the environmental and economic impacts, societal values and the role of citizen science will be considered. The final session will debate how to undertake management of invasive species at a landscape scale.”
The Symposium, sponsored by Thames Water and Red Squirrels United, will cover topics including the status of non-native species in Britain, impacts on native mammals, horizon scanning for future threats, how we can prevent the introduction and spread of non-natives, and the impacts of ‘native’ British species when they are introduced to islands outside their normal geographical range.
Alongside Olaf Booy of the GB Non Native Species Secretariat, speakers at the Symposium include: Prof Xavier Lambin, University of Aberdeen; Dr Sarah Crowley, University of Exeter; Dr Roo Campbell, Scottish Wildcat Project; Darren Tansley, The Wildlife Trusts, Dr Mariella Marzano, Forest Research and Dr Aileen Mill, Newcastle University and Dr Dick Shaw, CABI.
For more information on the Symposium and to book tickets go to https://www.mammal.org.uk/events/mammal-societys-autumn-symposium-non-native-mammals-in-britain/.
Notes to Editors
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Photograph mink and juvenile gannet by John W Anderson
Definition of non-native species
- Non-native species are plants and animals which have been moved from their place of origin, accidentally or intentionally, and brought to into Britain by humans. Around 10% of these species are considered invasive. Invasive non-native species have a negative impact on the environment, the economy and sometimes human health.
- Non-native mammals include rats, mice, grey squirrels, rabbits, mink, deer, feral cats and ferrets and included eradicated mammals such as coypu.
About the Mammal Society
- The Mammal Society is a charitable organisation working at the interface of science, policy making and practice. As the only society with an interest in all British mammals, its mission is to provide the scientific evidence-base for effective conservation and management.
- The Mammal Society recently completed the first review of the Population and Conservation Status of British Mammals for more than 20 years. The Review was published by Natural England in June 2018, together with the Red List of Threatened Mammals for Great Britain. A technical summary of the Review and Red List are available on the Mammal Society website mammal.org.uk. Britain’s Mammals 2018, an abbreviated version of the Review, is available to purchase from NHBS.
- Anyone who is interested in mammals, would like to support mammal conservation, access specialist information and benefit from discounted courses, should consider joining the Mammal Society today. Visit mammal.org.uk.
About the National Non-Native Species Secretariat
- The Non-native Species Secretariat has responsibility for helping to coordinate the approach to invasive non-native species in Great Britain.
- They are responsible to a Programme Board which represents the relevant governments and agencies of England, Scotland and Wales. For more information go to http://www.nonnativespecies.org.
The Non-Native Species Symposium will take place at Arup in London on 9 and 10 November 2018 and is sponsored by Arup, Red Squirrels United, South West Water and Thames Water.