Whiskers reveal secret life of invasive minks

December 24th, 2009 - 6:42 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, December 24 (ANI): A new analysis of the whiskers of minks, which escaped from fur farms and now live wild in the UK, is revealing the secret lifestyle of the animals.

Scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK carried out the analysis, which focused on American mink living in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

The research reveals more about the diet of this invasive species and provides a clue to its whereabouts.

The scientists used stable isotope analysis to study the whiskers and claws of mink carcasses collected on the islands.

This technique generates a kind of unique chemical fingerprint, providing a record of an animal’s diet over time.

The results showed that the mink had been increasingly reliant on seafood, proving to the scientists that mink had started to move to the coastline around the islands.

Wildlife biologists from the Food and Environment Research Agency have been working to eradicate mink, which escaped from fur farms and now live wild on the Outer Hebrides.

Having successfully eradicated mink from two islands - Uist and Harris - the team now plans to use the research findings to manage populations across the Outer Hebrides.

As a result of the study, the team will focus future efforts on coastal regions.

According to Dr Thomas Bodey of the University of Exeter, “The American Mink is one of the most damaging invasive species living in the UK today and sadly it has a devastating effect on UK wildlife.”

“We were astonished at how much we could find out by analysing the claws and whiskers of the mink and are delighted to know that our results are helping manage this problem in the Outer Hebrides,” he said. (ANI)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health Science |