Fear over killer minks at canal

Pest controller Andrew Burns with a mink trap

Pest controller Andrew Burns with a mink trap

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FEARS have been raised about a pack of vicious killers roaming the banks of the Union Canal.

With reports that they are attacking pets, killing baby swans and even taking over houseboats, it’s clear that some-mink has to be done.

A mink

A mink

The council has now asked for a report to be compiled on the control of mink across the city, after two local councillors received complaints that the animals were creating havoc in areas around the canal.

In one incident a woman found her canal boat had become the slaughterhouse for one of the creatures, where pest control experts found around 80 duck carcasses.

That animal has now been put down after being lured from the boat with a dish of scallops, but there are concerns that mink – which are not native to Britain but have spread rapidly after escaping from commercial breeding farms – have become established on the city waterways and could be destroying other wildlife.

Andrew Burns, director of Total Pest Solutions, was out in the city yesterday hunting for a reported mink.

“They can be a real problem, as they kill for food and they kill for fun,” he said. “They are quite dangerous, and the incident on a boat showed just how savage they are. The lady that called me in had been concerned that the ducks that used to nest around her boat had disappeared, and we found the barge was full of duck carcasses.

“The latest call out is another problem, as it appears this animal has been trapped and released, so it is ignoring all the traps I have set for it.”

The issue was raised with the council by Meadows and Morningside councillor Mark McInnes, who was contacted by several residents concerned about mink attacks on pets.

Cllr McInnes said: “These creatures are vicious and quite territorial, so once they are on a boat getting them out can be dangerous and very difficult.

“I’ve also been told by residents that they believe the mink have killed some small local pets and even attacked pet cats.

“I have raised it with the council as it appears there is no policy for how to deal with these animals, either from ourselves or from British Waterways, and that is something we need to clear up.”

Urban mink were first reported in Edinburgh in 2002, when the public were warned not to approach the animals as they could be “quite badly hurt” if attacked.

The first recorded “victim” of the animals was Doris the rabbit, who was attacked at Gorgie City Farm, and only survived when the intruder was disturbed by staff.

Don Williams, who works on the Union Canal for British waterways, said: “We think they killed a number of young swans . . . they just kill for the sake of killing.”

The city council confirmed it was compiling a report on minks.

gedwards@edinburghnews.com