Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Race to save Ratty: our letter in The Times

Dear Sir,

Although habitat loss accounts in part for the decline of our native water voles, predation by mink - a non-native invader - trumps habitat (May 11). Even where habitat is good, water vole populations can make a good recovery only when mink are absent. Predator control is unpalatable to many, but systematic mink control is vital if we are to save "Ratty" from extinction in Britain.

Mink control became a convincing option for conservationists after the invention, by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, of the "mink raft". This uses clay and sand to record the footprints of mink (and thus is an ideal place to set traps). Between 2002 and 2010 we showed that with effective use of rafts to control mink we could re-establish water voles where they had been lost. Monitoring is a vital part of conservation but we need to be careful that we don't just monitor water voles into extinction, without taking the action that is needed.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Get our FREE Mink Raft Plans

Download our FREE mink raft plans >

1 comment:

  1. This is a good example of where predator control is necessary - protecting indigenous species from the impact of alien invaders out of balance with our ecosystems. However, we cannot extrapolate from this, as your article seems to infer, that predator control is the prime solution to achieving conservation objectives and conservation organisations are somehow failing in their work by not accepting that. All of GWCT's research has to conclude that predator control is part of the solution because your primary objective is to ensure sufficient and usually unnaturally high numbers of game birds for shooting purposes. I'm afraid conservation benefits, although welcome, are a side-effect.

    Interestingly, in relation to control of mink, research is showing that the return of the otter is having a significant impact on mink numbers. In a similar way that corvids feature strongly in goshawk diets, nature continually demonstrates that it is better at controlling the balance of predators and sustaining bio-diversity. More research into that approach may produce far better and more cost effective results than reaching for the gun or trap.