Time to learn the difference between a mink and an otter

From: Sheila Duke, Canal Lane, Pocklington.

The article last Saturday on the ratter Phil Bastey and his dogs, where he also saved the remaining chickens by trapping the culprit, a mink, should make us wake up to the fact that mink are on the increase again and need culling.

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It is a pity that such countrymen are not employed by Defra because they have a great practical knowledge of the environment and nature.

Unfortunately a mink was spotted about two years ago along the beck at the back of my property raiding a nest. I now have no waterfowl and no ground nesting birds.

We do have foxes but this was not the work of a fox.

Although I have a keen sense of nature, some of my knowledge did not kick in until early February when I smelt a foul smell on one of my small bridges.

It was not otter scent because apparently that smells like jasmine tea.

The scent markings of mink are dreadfully smelly, rather like rat pee but 100 times worse.

Mink are solitary creatures and once on a stretch of water they strip it of fish, voles, ducks and other waterfowl. They will even take cat food.

The canal head basin of Pocklington Canal used to have many waterfowl but they have declined to only a few over the last two years. Mink are ferocious and will attack and kill a flock of chickens and will kill a fully-grown duck, returning later to dismember a carcass.

They are very bold creatures and not to be messed with. Mink may have approached fishermen because they can smell the bait they use.

I am informed that otter prefer fish, eels and frogs and will take ducklings, and that a sure sign of an otter is that it eats all the fish from head down and leaves the fish tail on the bank.

I believe that Defra, English Nature and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust need to educate people to spot the differences in activity of otter and mink.

They should publish pictures of both in water and out.

Also pictures of their scats, which are mink poo and spraints – otter poo.

Otters are nocturnal, and shy and it would be rare indeed to see one in daylight or even be approached by one. Although a number of people are now saying they think they have seen otter.

Note: The report on ratter Phil Bastey added an extra digit in his phone number. The correct number is 07932 943344.

From: Mr Wardell, Malton Road York

Re last week’s letter from Eileen Goddard. She must have been hunting in her dreams claiming she could clearly hear the fox scream when caught.

This is not true. When a fox hound takes hold of a fox the fox is unable to make any sound as it is immediately grabbed by the throat which would then be crushed and the fox is dead instantly.

 I have attended hundreds of meets and at no time have I  ever heard the sound of a fox screaming.

It’s a nonsense made up by those who do not understand hunting and wish the ban to carry on.

It may have been a hound howling at that time, never a fox .

Let’s hope our MPs see reason and give us our hunting back.