Call to sink the mink menace

Nola Meikle, above, has found three nests
Nola Meikle, above, has found three nests
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But since the Evening News reported on the scourge of mink attacking wildlife on the Union Canal, more reports have emerged of the voracious pest’s invasion.

The city council is compiling a report on the problems caused by the non-native species, which has spread after escaping commercial farms.

One of those whose life has been made a misery by the mink is Nola Meikle, who owns a narrow boat called Nola’s Ark, moored on the Union Canal at Polwarth.

She recently encountered the third mink nest on her boat in as many years, and suspects the animal has damaged the electrical wiring on board.

Ms Meikle first came face-to-face with a mink two or three years ago: “I couldn’t understand why the contents of the boat were all over the place, and then I noticed these paw marks and though ‘Oh’,” she said.

“I opened one of the lockers and there was this little brown face looking up at me. It had obviously been nesting in there – there was a nasty little pile of poo and it was very smelly and it had a fish and a frog. When I went back to clear up the mess, it had gone.”

She had a second encounter earlier this year: “I tried the Waterways Board but they weren’t interested, then I tried the council and they weren’t interested.”

She eventually found a mink controller online who lured the animal into a trap with scallops and salmon and removed it to be destroyed. She has since found a third nest, and says over the years she has found numerous carcasses of ducklings, fish, and even an adult duck beak – apparently the only inedible part.

Ms Meikle said she thought an official policy on eradicating the animals needed to be developed.

Also counting the cost of the mink invasion is retired manufacturing manager Alistair Lucas, 71, who had hundreds of pounds worth of fish go missing from his garden pond in East Craigs.

Having had fish picked off by herons, Mr Lucas had covered the pond with netting. The pride of his collection was four large koi carp, each more than 20 years old – until they disappeared earlier this year.

He said: “I was thinking it might be a heron and then it gradually dawned on me that none of the fish were there – everything had gone. I was talking to a neighbour a couple of weeks later and he said ‘I found a skeleton of a fish in my garden’. It had a head but nothing else was left of it.”

When Mr Lucas went to a fish dealer to buy replacements, the shop owner said mink were the most likely suspects.

“I’ve no actual proof but it’s what I’ve been told is most likely. It had to be something that could swim in the pond, which cats don’t do,” Mr Lucas said.