Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has called for wild mink to be included in a nationwide cull of the species on farms in Ireland.
It has been revealed that the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohon contacted the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to recommend the cull on Irish mink farms amid concerns around a mutated coronavirus strain discovered on Danish mink farms.
Fitzmaurice said: “If a cull is to take place on the three mink farms in Ireland, then we must take the opportunity to eradicate the mink in the wild.”
“The wild mink in Ireland became established after escaping or being released from farms decades ago. They are a scourge on the countryside, particularly when it comes to lambs and native birds.”
Problems for farmers
In a report compiled by the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) a number of years ago, they estimated the wild population to be in the region 20,500 to 33,500 based on the capacity of available habitats.
The same report noted that the population could be eradicated – at a cost of just over €1 million – over a five-year period.
“We need to take the opportunity of this nationwide cull to fully eradicate this non-native species in Ireland. If vulnerable Irish bird species are to prosper moving forward, then the wild minks cannot be in the picture.”
“Similarly, mink cause problems for farmers – killing new-born lambs and poultry. Research has also proven that mink can show ‘surplus killing’ behaviour when food is plentiful.”
“This is an opportunity to rid ourselves of this invasive species once and for all,” Fitzmaurice concluded.