Recycled Plastic Mink Rafts Information

Recycled Plastic Mink Raft Information

What are mink and why control them

American Mink is a very invasive non-native predator related to ferrets and weasels. They were released as a consequence of the mink fur farming industry and are well established on British and European waterways where they have had a significant impact on native wildlife. In particular they are the main cause of the catastrophic (>95%) decline in the population of Water Voles. They also have significant impacts on other river wildlife especially waterbirds.

What is a mink raft

Mink Rafts were developed by the Game & Wildlife Conservancy Trust.
The full details can be found here: http://www.gwct.org.uk/wildlife/research/mammals/american-mink/the-gwct-mink-raft/ 

The raft consists of a 1.2m x 0.6m float (made from plywood and 50mm thick polystyrene) with a hole in the middle and a tunnel over the top of the hole large enough to hold a mink trap (about 60cm x 20cm x 20cm). The hole contains a plastic basket which contains Oasis® florists foam to act as a wick and water reservoir and a layer of sand and clay. The Oasis® keeps the clay/sand mix moist and allows it to act as a reusable tracking cartridge. The raft is generally tied to an anchor on the bank and is provided with anchoring points for this purpose.

Use

The raft is initially used as a monitoring device to target trapping resources, since traps are expensive. It is placed in suitable habitat (edges of lakes and rivers, ditches, reedbeds etc). The tunnel is attractive to mink since they like to explore crevices and holes in search of their favourite prey. The raft is checked on a weekly basis to see if there are any tracks in the clay. The tracks of mink are quite characteristic. If mink tracks are found the trapping phase is initiated, and a trap is fitted into the tunnel. After this point the raft is checked daily for welfare reasons. If a mink is caught it is humanely dispatched immediately (generally using an air pistol).

What is the problem?

Filcris were approached in 2010 by Chris Matcham of Surrey W T to develop a recycled plastic mink rafts. He had many years of experience using rafts from a number of manufacturers and had identified the following problems:

  • They also rotted and fell to pieces, often quite quickly (within a year), sometimes within a matter of months.
  • Since they sit in water all day the wooden rafts become much heavier and more difficult to lift out
  • Accessing the trap and the inspecting the clay was not always very easy, none of the tunnels were easily removable and he had to modify them adding hinges which was quite time consuming.
  • The polystyrene is exposed on the edge of all commercially available and DIY designs and over time it disintegrates and can enter the environment. 

Vison Mink Raft

  • From 2013 we have been making and supplying the Vison Mink Raft, which has replaced all previous models
  • Recycled plastic and polystyrene raft and tunnel, with components which will rot or decay. 
  • Fully removable tunnel consisting of three sections held together and onto the raft using a system of locking tabs. No hinges or steel fixings which can rust and fail. 
  • The tunnel lid can be removed to allow easy inspection or removal of the trap. 
  • All rafts are made to order in our factory in the UK so we can easily tweak the design to accommodate different trap dimensions. (There will be a charge for this).
  • Tracking cartridges, plastic baskets and tethering kits are also available, along with traps and tethering kits. 
  • Made from recycled plastic saving waste from going into landfill.
  • Now supplied with edges to provide additional protection and prevent the polystyrene float from disintegrating and entering the water system.  

Satisfied customers have included a wide range of local authorities, the RSPB, the National Trust, several National Park Authorities and many wildlife trusts.

Fenland Mink Raft

In 2019 we were approached by Prof Tony Martin, whose previous work has included ridding South Georgia of rats approached us to undertake some research into the most effective use of mink rafts as part of an ambitious plan to eradicate mink from East Anglia. 

This work is ongoing but one spin off from this is the new Fenland Mink Raft which we have developed in conjunction with Professor Martin. This is the same as our standard raft with the following changes

  • The tunnel is taller to accomodate a Remoti monitoring device which alerts the user as soon as the trap is sprung. 
  • This dispenses with the time spent fitting monitoring tracking kits, so the large hole in the centre of the standard mink raft is not needed.