FOREIGN INVADER? Barnard Castle resident Paul Upton was stunned to photograph a mink basking at the side of the town golf course
FOREIGN INVADER? Barnard Castle resident Paul Upton was stunned to photograph a mink basking at the side of the town golf course

A NON-native species, which can have a devastating impact on wildlife, has been spotted in Teesdale.

Paul Upton was playing golf at Barnard Castle when he spotted what he thinks was a mink basking on the side of a stream. Mr Upton, who lives in town and works at Glaxo, said: “We were at the first hole at Barney golf course and I spotted it. I am confident it wasn’t an otter.

“I did manage to get photos but they are not that clear as I couldn’t get my phone out quick enough. As I got closer it just got up and ran and then dived into the stream. I can say for certain it wasn’t a cat or an otter.

“It was just sat on a concrete block on the edge of the stream when I saw it and it was looking straight at me.”

Mr Upton said after uploading some of the images on his social media page, he has been contacted by other people who say they spotted a family of mink not far away but he was unsure who or where to report the sighting to.

Kirsty Pollard, from Durham Wildlife Trust, said: “Since their escape and introduction into the wild in the UK, the population of the non-native American mink has grown to have a devastating impact on native UK species.

Blenkiron

“As a generalist predator, they will predate ground nesting bird’s nests, and native UK mammals such as the water vole. It is widely recognised that predation by mink is the key factor in the huge decline of the water vole.

“Areas of lowland Durham and the North Pennines still retain populations of the water vole, but they are now massively at risk due to mink predation. As a local conservation charity, Durham Wildlife Trust is committed to conserving native wildlife, preventing species extinction and facilitating nature to re-establish a natural balance.

“Support from local communities and in particular records of wildlife sightings are incredibly helpful in informing conservation efforts. In order to understand how mink can be better managed in the local landscape it is important that people report their sightings.”

You can report sightings

of mink to Durham Wildlife Trust by phoning 0191 5843112 or emailing mail@durhamwt.co.uk