An American Mink in your Pond

Reader Contribution by Elizabeth Gatto
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The American mink is a member of the Mustelidae family which includes the otter, weasels, skunks and badger. Adult males grow to about 2 feet long, including the 6 to 10 inch tail, and generally weigh 1 to 3 pounds.  Their natural habitat is all of North America with the exception of the southwest, like Arizona, where it is too dry for the mink to survive. 

Minks are very common here in New Jersey, and are usually found in or near water because they are well adapted for aquatic life. Their streamlined bodies, webbed feet and long tails contribute to their excellent swimming ability.  Minks are capable of swimming for up to 3 hours without stopping and can also be seen bounding along the ground and even climbing trees.  Because of this, if you have a pond on your property, a mink may find it to be an excellent habitat, much to your dismay.

As with all uninvited wild animals, their presence on your private property may be unwanted for a variety of reasons.  Minks occasionally cause depredation problems at fish hatcheries and rearing areas.  They can also take over your backyard pond as their local fishery and then create a den in your backyard by burrowing up to a 12 foot distance in your yard.  If you happen to raise chickens, they may pose a threat to your poultry supply as well.  If they do take up residence, the bottom line is that they are going to need food and a place to sleep, so they are destructive.

Mouse-like rodents and fish make up the greatest portion of the mink’s diet. Crayfish are also an important food when available. Other foods include amphibians, insects, reptiles, and birds but are less common.  Most likely if they are swimming in your pond, their diet will consist of the fish you have stocked, and any other local residents such as frogs.  Minks are excellent aquatic predators and can quickly undo all your efforts at making a nice water habitat for fish.

Sometimes a mink problem is beyond the scope of the average homeowner to solve.  In some cases, professional trapping and removal is the best route.  If you do want to hire professional help, do not hire a pest control company or exterminator, who might kill the innocent animal.  They are simply looking for a place to find food and shelter.  Hire a dedicated wildlife control professional, and ask him if he uses humane control methods, such as live trapping and relocation.  To learn more about us, visit our website.


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