The first news about the European mink conservation actions in Estonia in 2014

The European mink conservation in 2014 in Estonia is already underway and it is time to share some emotions.
It seems that the weird winter and exceptionally early spring have influenced also our mink in breeding facility. Out small team led by Kertu Namsing checked the heat status of our mink first time in 17th of March (usually the breeding operation starts around mid-March). Very first vaginal smears were taken, stained and checked under microscope. The result – one of our females already in estrus. That means – time for first mating in 2014. So it happened that mink lady Vanessa was introduced to mink guy Indrek. They liked each other and mated at once. We kept them together for almost a week.
Good news comes also from Hiiumaa Island. My good colleague Madis Põdra came over from Spain to give start to the routine monitoring session in Hiiumaa Island, but not only …. . This year we have a plan to radio-collar 3 – 4 mink. Yes, the very same ones radio-tracked last year – have a look on previous blog. This time we collar them to share light to the spatial behaviour of mink during breeding season.
Some 3 days ago live-traps were setup to catch mink. We were lucky – already the second day gave us the first mink in trap, one of those released last year with collars. This male was caught from Luguse stream system, basically from the very same place it was released after removal of collar last autumn. It was good to see that it had even gained weight: last autumn it was 805 grams, now 850.It seems that mink are doing well in the island.

This mink really likes traps – as next morning after release our friend was again in the trap. We released it and removed all remaining traps from this area.

Third day (24.03.2014) had a nice follow-up. We got another mink, again the one collared in August last year. This one was living in small canal full of fish between sea and inland-bay called Kassari. The habitat looks ideal for mink in autumn, but as winter approaches the fish will abandon the canal and solid ice cover will make the remaining fish inaccessible for mink. This habitat was likely to be an ecological trap for our mink and because of this we released it to opposite side of the island to the small forest stream. Now we caught it again. One might have guessed that mink will lose lots of its weight during winter. Quite surprisingly, the opposite is true. At the time of the release in October last year the weight was bit more than 1000 grams, now it was 1200 grams – a lot for male European mink in the wild.

In the morning of the fourth day (25.03.2014) again nice surprise waited the fieldworkers. In one of the lifetraps was mink without microchip. That means – this male was born in the wild in 2013. It was very agressive and wild specimen, as if willing to prove its wild origin.


Some images from the wild:




Such live-traps with closed door during the inspection morning fills you with good feeling – the mink is probably inside!




The first male European mink caught and equiped with new radiocollar, waiting to be waken up from anesthesia and to be released back to his home stream.



Home stream of this male mink:




Release back to the wild: first careful glimpse out from live-trap.. then our mink rushed out, strainght into the water.


After refreshing long swim our mink on the bank, probably wondering what happened to him and what to do next …. actually a very  quick run away happened there after.