BASC graduates have mink and grey squirrels on the run

dsc 006WARDENS and volunteers are stepping up their control of mink and grey squirrels in Wales after graduating from two BASC conservation courses.

BASC Green Shoots Wales officer Audrey Watson ran a training day for 10 wardens from Snowdonia National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales to assist their efforts controlling mink.

New populations of water vole were found within the park’s boundaries during a summer survey, but they are at constant risk of predation by non-native North American mink.

The course covered the ecological impact of mink then guided delegates on procedures for using mink rafts and clay pads to monitor numbers as well as how to safely control the invasive mammal.

Audrey Watson also ran a course in grey squirrel trapping in mid-Wales for Tilhill Forestry employees and other volunteers, assisted by BASC Wales country officer Meurig Rees.

BASC works with the mid-Wales Red Squirrel Partnership (MWRSP) to protect the existing population of red squirrels in and around Tywi Forest by recruiting members and other volunteers to control greys in the focal site and within an additional buffer zone.

The course highlighted how greys impact the countryside through bark stripping, taking birds eggs, outcompeting native reds for food and also spreading squirrel pox, which leaves greys unaffected but is fatal to red squirrels.

Audrey Watson said: “The courses were well-received and allowed us to pass on a great deal of specialist knowledge to those who deal with problems caused by mink and squirrel on a regular basis.

“BASC often work hand-in-hand with partner agencies on key conservation issues and this is another example of how the UK’s largest shooting organisation is having a positive impact in the countryside.”

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