Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs
Question 384: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the bounty scheme for mink is in operation or if the details are yet to be finalised as we approach the critical spring period for wildlife and the lambing season which are affected by mink. [8416/12]
Wild mink are not protected species under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2010 and they can be controlled by farmers, landowners and others.
I have been concerned for some time at the number of feral mink around the country and especially their effects on ground nesting birds. A report published by my Department in 2009 estimated the population of wild mink in the State could reach a total of between 20,500 and 33,500 individuals. The report identified ground nesting birds as the species most vulnerable to mink predation. Accordingly, my Department is concentrating its resources on protecting the nesting sites of rare and threatened bird species, including red-throated diver, corncrake, grey partridge, waders and terns, from a range of predators, including mink. Experience has shown that targeted control of predators at specific times can have a significant benefit to the breeding success of these bird species.
I am also aware of the work of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), which has been actively promoting mink control to its members by providing funding to its regional councils for the purchase of traps for individual clubs.
I decided to provide €20,000 to NARGC towards the payment of a bounty to hunters this year, based on the number of mink that are killed. I consider that this offers a useful addition to the measures already being taken by my Department. While feral mink are found in most parts of the country, I requested that, as far as it is possible, special attention should be given to the counties of Donegal, Galway, Mayo and Kerry, where my Department has also concentrated its efforts. The bounty scheme itself will be operated by the NARGC, with a verification process agreed with my Department.