Have You Seen A Mink?

The River Chess

Above: The River Chess in Cannons Wood

Local river conservation partnership, Impress the Chess, is asking people to be on the lookout for signs of mink in the area as they threaten our resident water voles.

The mink is an invasive predator that eats a wide variety of prey including small mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and crayfish. Its predation of water voles was largely responsible for the 97% crash in the water vole population on the Chess between 2001 and 2003.

A water vole recovery scheme, combining habitat enhancement with mink control, successfully operated on the Chess to reverse the decline in water vole numbers. The scheme was developed by the Bucks, Berks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project (CCSP) and was supported by landowners and fishery managers throughout the catchment. This saw a good recovery in water vole numbers by 2011. However, population numbers of water voles have again significantly declined and there have been recent sightings of mink on the river. The water vole is Britain’s most endangered mammal and the Chess population is one of only two natural colonies in the whole county, so it’s really important that it is protected.

The River Chess Association, a partner organisation of Impress the Chess, is working with BBOWT and the CCSP to put rafts along the river that will monitor for and confirm the presence of mink. It will be much easier to locate these rafts in the right places using sightings from the public.  So, Impress the Chess would like you to get in touch if you have seen a mink, or signs of a mink in the Chesham area. Mink are sometimes seen crossing roads, or you may see footprints in the mud by the river, or even scat. A good identification guide to mink can be downloaded here (PDF, 2 MB).

Please email policy@chesham.gov.uk or call 01494 583798 with any sightings.