The American mink in Europe: Status, impacts, and control

Università degli Studi di Trieste, Trst, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
Biological Conservation (Impact Factor: 3.76). 11/2007; 134:470-483. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.09.006


We examine the distribution of American mink Mustela vison in 28 European countries, and we review the impacts of this invasive species and the efforts made so far in controlling it. Our study reveals that, although mink farms are mostly concentrated in northern countries, mink are widely distributed across Europe, and that in some countries mink are apparently declining, although in most cases the causes are unknown. Countries for which the impact of mink on native species has been studied show that mink can have a significant effect on ground-nesting birds, rodents, amphibians and mustelids. The overall economic impact of feral mink seems to be relatively small but can be significant in specific regions. Recently, a number of eradication and local control projects have been carried out throughout Europe, indicating that these actions could be effective to protect native species. A consistent body of knowledge is starting to accumulate on issues concerning the American mink as an invasive alien species, but, as this review highlights, for most European countries there is currently a limited knowledge about its distribution or impacts. Taking all these observations together, we present some of the actions that have recently emerged as effective for dealing with this species and discuss which considerations may further encourage competent European authorities to take action to prevent and mitigate impacts of American mink.

Download full-text


Available from: Santiago Palazón
    • "During the last decades, several investigations into the three species studied in this work were performed in Europe . However, the population structure was scarcely assessed in specific areas and often for a single species (Danilov and Tumanov 1976; Sidorovich 1997; Ansorge and Suchentrunk 2001; Whitman 2003; Hammershøj 2004; Bonesi et al. 2006; Kristiansen et al. 2007; Persson et al. 2011). Thus, the lack of such information affects the ability to construct precise demographic models, viability analyses, competition assessments, or evaluations on the effectiveness of culling programs. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Age estimation of three mustelid species with similar body size was performed in Northern Spain. Canine samples of 1766 carcasses from 1661 American mink (Neovison vison), 54 European mink (Mustela lutreola), and 51 European polecats (Mustela putorius) were sectioned, and cementum annuli counts in tooth sections were used for age estimation. American mink samples consisted primarily of trap-captured animals from governmental control campaigns, whereas road casualties were the principal origin of European mink and European polecat carcasses. Individuals prior to their first breeding season (class 0+) represented approximately half of all animals, with no significant differences between species or causes of death. Differences in sub-adult percentages were observed between the pre- and post-reproductive period, with a high mortality during the dispersal-winter period in all three species. Frequencies of mortality of the sub-adult age class were 0.46, 0.50, and 0.55 for American mink, European mink, and European polecat, respectively. Survival rates of the American mink were higher than those of the native species. The oldest animals detected were 7+, 5+, and 3+ years old for the American mink, European mink, and European polecat, respectively. No differences were observed in mean age of animals found dead as road casualties in all three species or between captured American mink and road casualties. The information obtained is of high value for understanding the demographic processes of the populations and particularly for conservation and management decisions for these species.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · European Journal of Wildlife Research
  • Source
    • "The American mink (Neovison vison) is bred for its fur and is of high economic importance. Originally endemic to North America, the species was introduced in Europe and Asia in the 1950s, following the commercialization of fur production (Bonesi and Palazon, 2007). Selection of color mutants has produced many different color types (White, Pearl, Silver, etc.) relative to the original wild type (i.e., Brown; Trapezov, 1997). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Feral American mink populations ( Neovison vison ), derived from mink farms, are wide - spread in Europe. In this study we investigated genetic diversity and genetic differentiation between feral and farm mink using a panel of genetic markers (194 SNP) generated from RAD sequencing data. Sampling included a total of 211 individuals from 14 populations, 4 feral and 10 from farms, the latter including a total of 7 color types (Brown, Black, Mahogany, Sapphire, White, Pearl, and Silver). Our study revealed similar low levels of genetic diversity in both farm and feral mink. Results are consistent with small effective pop - ulation size as a consequence of line selection in the farms and founder effects of a few escapees from the farms in feral populations. Moderately high genetic differentiation was found between farm and feral ani - mals, suggesting a scenario in which wild populations were founded from farm escapes a few decades ago. Currently, escapes and gene flow are probably limited. Genetic differentiation was higher among farm color types than among farms, consistent with line selection using few individuals to create the lines. Finally, no indications of inbreeding were found in either farm or feral samples, with significant negative F IS values found in most farm samples, showing farms are suc - cessful in avoiding inbreeding. Population genetic structure in farm and feral American mink (Neovison vison) inferred from RAD sequencing-generated single nucleotide polymorphisms. Available from: [accessed Dec 22, 2015].
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015
    • "Thus many INNS mammalian carnivores are controlled through sustained trapping rather than through one-off poisoning campaigns in areas where the use of toxins is inappropriate (e.g. Bonesi and Palazón 2007). Management strategies involving either large numbers of ''citizen conservationists'' (e.g. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Una de las respuestas más frecuentes a la reducción de la densidad poblacional es el incremento de las tasas vitales (reproducción y supervivencia) dando lugar a un efecto compensatorio que potencialmente puede conllevar al aumento del crecimiento poblacional con la reducción de la densidad. Mientras estas respuestas pueden ser beneficiosas para la gestión de especies de interés, también pueden negar los efectos de control de especies invasoras. El visón americano (Neovison vison), una de las especies invasoras más extendidas, es conocido por su gran flexibilidad reproductora. En este estudio utilizamos datos recolectados durante 6 años de control de la especie en el noreste de Escocia para estudiar su respuesta reproductora tras la reducción de la densidad poblacional vía control. Tanto la probabilidad de concepción y como el tamaño de la camada aumentó con la reducción de la densidad de hembras (de 0.8 a 0.9 y de 3.8 a 5.6 respectivamente) pero no con la de machos. Además, encontramos senescencia en el visón americano con menor concepción y tamaño de camada en hembras de mayor edad, lo cual combinado con la reducción de edad poblacional tras seis años de control también produjo un incremento de la reproducción. El efecto simultáneo de compensación y senescencia predijo un aumento del 1.5 veces el tamaño de la camada por hembra superviviente tras seis años de control. Esta información se ha usado para gestionar y adaptar las estrategias de control, mantenido exitosamente el declive de la densidad poblacional.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Dec 2015
Show more