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Trappers to kill thousands of mink in Republic of Ireland

Trappers are hunting down thousands of American mink that are ravaging trout and endangered birds in the Republic of Ireland.

Their orders are to trap the mink and kill them humanely.

They might look cute, but in fact mink are vicious and can wipe out trout stocks as well eating the nest eggs of rare endangered birds such as the corncrake and tern.

More than 33,000 mink which originally escaped from fur farms have colonised much of Ireland, a new report shows.

Three full-time trappers have now been engaged by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to catch the mink in riverside traps and to kill them before they can wipe out rare birds.

The cost of controlling the destructive mink population over the next five years is put at €1.06m.

A report by the NPWS, attached to the Department of the Environment, says the mink have the capacity to do severe damage to tern colonies, corncrake nests and to gull and diver nests.

The report, obtained by the Irish Independent, says the mink will be trapped in live traps set close to the nesting sites of protected birds.

While the captured predators will be humanely killed, any animals accidentally caught in the traps such as pine martens, stoat or hedgehogs, will be released unharmed.

The best way to kill the mink -- as well as foxes, grey crows and other predators -- is to shoot them with .22 low-velocity rifles or airguns.

Full-time trappers will be working on the project, in Donegal, west Mayo and Connemara, and another around Banagher on the Shannon.

These will be backed up by staff and rangers from the wildlife service and contract field workers protecting corncrake sites.

The Shannon trapper has already got rid of 19 mink, 10 foxes and 100 grey crows.

The project is also being backed by local gun clubs, landowners and the National Association of Regional Game Councils.

The Donegal trapper is being sent to kill mink at red-throated diver sites in the Derryveagh mountains and corncrake sites in north Fannad, Inishowen and Falcaragh/Magherarorty as well as on the islands of Inishmaan, Inishboffin and Tory.

The Mid-Shannon Callows trapper is targeting corncrake nests at Tower, Frans and Borranagh along with wader sites at Inch Island, Inishee, Inichinalee, Meelick, Co Galway; and Fahns, and Devenish, Co Roscommon; and Bloomhill, Co Westmeath.

In west Mayo/Connemara the trapper is starting out with sites on the Mullet peninsula, Louisburg, Omey Island, and Renvyle peninsula.

The report on which the project is based says several mink farms still operate here. Animals escaping from these will continue to threaten the wildlife of Ireland, even if the feral population is managed, it adds.

"Where possible mink should be eradicated in areas where they would do the most harm," the report says.

Source Irish Independent

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