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Question 214 - Answered on 19th May, 2010

Maureen O'Sullivan, TD: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason he is spending a projected 1,062,425 Euro on mink eradication when a National Parks and Wildlife Service commissioned report states that escapes from fur farms would invalidate any attempts to eradicate feral populations; and if he will instead accelerate the closure of fur farms.

Written Answer. Ref No: 21068/10

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr John Gormley):

Mink found in the wild in Ireland are descended from animals that escaped from fur farms. They have been breeding in the wild since the 1950s and are now found throughout the country.

A report published by my Department in 2009 estimated that a national eradication programme for mink would cost in excess of 1 million, based on a potential population of between 20,500 and 33,500 individuals.

It is not my intention to undertake a national mink eradication programme. Resources are concentrated on protecting the nesting sites of rare and threatened bird species including red-throated divers, corncrakes, 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 species. This year some 60,000 will be spent on this work.

As wild mink are not protected under the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000 they can also be trapped freely by landowners and their agents.

The renewed Programme for Government includes a commitment to phase out fur farms over a three year period and this commitment will be addressed by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

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