Minks are 'major threat to fish stocks' in Limerick

 The animal 'kills for the sake of killing'

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Minks are 'major threat to fish stocks' in Limerick

Anglers have seen evidence of fish killed by mink

A COUNCILLOR has called for gun and hunting clubs to be utilised in reducing the mink population in County Limerick.

Cllr Bill O’Donnell raised his concerns about the member of the weasel family at a Cappamore-Kimallock municipal district meeting.

“They need to be trapped and humanely dispatched,” said Cllr O’Donnell.

When contacted by the Leader after the meeting, Eamon O’Riordan,  chairman of Kilmallock/Kilfinane Anglers Association, said minks are playing a major part in the “decimation of fish stocks in rivers”.

“It is very serious. It is more serious than people realise. Numbers are growing and growing – they have no natural predators, that is the biggest problem,” said Eamon. 

While he describes them as “secretive” animals he says you will see them along the banks of rivers and tributaries throughout the county.

“They are clever. I would see them often enough when I would be fishing up along the river. You see them scurrying along the bank,” he said. 

Eamon says minks kill anything they can. 

“They kill for the sake of killing – for the fun of it. It isn’t that they kill fish and eat them – they will kill them and leave them there. I have seen quite a lot of evidence of fish they have killed and they left on the bank afterwards.

“It isn’t just salmon and trout, they would take anything - ducks, pheasants, any of the wild fowl that are on the river,” said Eamon, who stresses that he has no problem with otters in the rivers.

“They are native, the minks are not native – they have been introduced and have no enemies so they are multiplying and multiplying. They can travel long distances and come up along tributaries. I would see them as being a major threat to fish stocks. They are having a very bad effect on rivers,” he said.

The species found in Ireland is the American mink. They are usually escapees from mink farms which were established in Ireland in the 1950s.

When the price of fur crashed there wasn’t much demand for mink. In general, they are about 18 to 24 inches in length, including its bushy 5 to 7 inch tail and weigh 1 1/2 to 3 lbs, according to Wildlife Management Services.

As an example of their density, one angler counted 11 minks in a Kilmallock town section of the river Loobagh and another spotted 13 in a stretch located about half a mile outside the town. They can have upto 10 offspring.

“This shows how quickly they can populate an area. A farmer further downstream recently saw an adult mallard duck taken down and drowned by a mink,” said Eamon. 

Anne Goggin, senior executive engineer in the council’s environment section, said it is a huge concern for anglers.

“I became aware of it as an issue through dealings with anglers and rivers trusts. Minks don’t have any natural predators in this country so they are thriving and numbers are increasing.

“They are very aggressive animals. They do huge damage to birds and fish,” said Anne.