Trappers wanted to catch mink as agency aims to protect endangered species

Five trappers are to be deployed across the country from Monday to hunt down predators, including feral mink, that are ravaging trout and endangered birds.

The team will be engaged by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to catch the animals in riverside traps. The mink will be captured in live traps set close to the nesting sites of protected birds. They have been instructed to trap mink and kill them “humanely”.

This is the sixth year that the NPWS has sought tenders for the trapping of animals such as feral mink, grey crows and foxes.

Pat Warner of the NPWS said they were seeking to protect species such as the corncrake and other, protected, breeding birds.

He said two predator control officers would be located in Donegal, while one will be on the Shannon between Athlone and Portumna, another will be in north Mayo and the final trapper will be in Connemara.

These locations have been chosen because they were the last sites home to corncrakes.

“Our work in Donegal is very concentrated and we realised that there is a need for two officers. It is just not possible for one person to cover the entire area from Tory Island to Fanad, Malin Head and Ardara.”

Mr Warner said the move has nothing to do with an escape of mink in Donegal but said the NPWS was delighted to be able to help with this as part of their work.

He stressed that, in particular, there was an urgent need for the protection of the curlew: “The curlew is becoming exceedingly rare. We are now down to three or four in the county. I would issue a plea to anyone who sees a curlew to please get in touch with us. The species is going through the floor and they are our latest concern.”

Mr Warden said predator control was very concentrated and was only carried out in the immediate area surrounding where birds were found in the nest. It was only carried out at specific times of the year.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has invited tenders from individuals or companies to trap predators including feral mink and to trap grey crows and control foxes at selected locations in north and west Donegal, including offshore islands.

This work will be full time from Feb 25 to Jul 31 and then for the month of September. All traps will be provided and the contractor must have a licensed shotgun or rifle.

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