MINK HOUNDS could be the only way of eradicating mink from places where they are threatening birds or water voles with extinction, a study has found.
The study submitted by Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs Minister, during the committee stage of the Government's Hunting Bill, argued that there was a strong case for allowing mink hunting to continue as a form of pest control.
The study was conducted last autumn in the Outer Hebrides, where introduced American mink have become a serious predator of ground-nesting birds.
Nine hounds from the Border Counties mink hounds were used in the experiment, in an area of south Uist, Benbecula and North Uist where a Government and European Union-funded £1.65 million live-trapping project is being carried out to protect vulnerable ground-nesting birds.
The hounds found mink unscathed in areas where live traps were laid, as the Minks appeared to learn to avoid traps. The hounds were shown to be entirely specific to mink and otters and livestock in the area were not disturbed.