The hunters are aiming for the mink – which can become extinct

Mink’s days in Sweden may be numbered.
At the same time that the government’s autumn budget will offer the remaining fur breeders support for decommissioning, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency wants to eventually eradicate the wild population – something that is welcomed in the Kosterhavets National Park in Bohuslän.

– It’s going away, says hunter Sven-Gunnar Lunneryd.

For almost 20 years, Sven-Gunnar has tried to maintain the mink population in the area around Strömstad and the Koster Islands, and he has seen how devastating the mink can be for bird life.

– Partly it can take adult birds, but especially when they lay eggs, they take a lot of young. There is a lot of research into the mink’s negative effects on the bird fauna, says the hunter.

As chairman of Kosterhavet’s hunting conservation association, he and his friend Svante Nilsson regularly go out into the area on behalf of the park to hunt mink. They use trained dogs to locate them and have a special permit to use leaf blowers to force out mink that have sought shelter in some rock crevice.

Then the job is finished with a shotgun or pot gun – and you need to be prepared.

– It goes very fast and you really have to be on your toes, says Svante Nilsson.

Imported 100 years ago

The mink was imported to Sweden for fur breeding almost 100 years ago, but has established itself as a wild animal throughout the country through escapees.

Now the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has put the mink on a national list of invasive species that they believe should be banned, which could mean simplified rules and more resources for hunting. Among other things, a pilot project with hundreds of cameras and traps on Holmön outside Umeå has yielded good results.

– Bird life would recover significantly in many areas. Now we will not suggest that it be removed in all of Sweden at once, because it will be quite expensive. Instead, we aim to have a recurrent extinction, especially in archipelagos and on islands, says Henrik Lange, coordinator at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

And the fact that the mink has existed in our nature for almost 100 years is not, according to Sven-Gunnar Lunneryd, a mitigating circumstance.

– The birds that are here have evolved for thousands of years in this environment, without this type of predator. In that perspective, 100 years is nothing. It will go away.