The town in County Westmeath approached the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) when the committee noticed that waterfowl numbers were falling in the area. When they discovered that non-native mink were the likely cause the Tidy Towns committee decided that direct action was required.
Nestled on the banks of the Shannon the area around Athlone is home to a wide range of wildfowl and other ground-nesting birds that are particularly susceptible to mink predation. They include the internationally endangered corncrake. Versatile and accomplished predators, mink are equally at home hunting on land or in the water. Our native birds and small mammals simply haven’t evolved to deal with this alien threat.
“Years ago you would always have seen a duck with nine or 10 chicks, now you would only see one or two,” Séamus McCann of Athlone Tidy Towns committee told reporters. “The mink is a ferocious killer, he’s an absolutely ferocious killer.”
In consultation with the NPWS the Athlone Tidy Towns committee has obtained a number of humane Mink traps and is implementing a programme to cull the local mink population as part of a broader wildlife-friendly initiative in the town.