Amazing photos capture family of mink beside canal in Hebden Bridge
Yorkshire Post photographer James Hardisty spotted this family of American mink by the Rochdale Canal in Hebden Bridge. The female was carrying her two kits in her mouth as she moved them between dens.
American mink are not native to the UK, and their thriving population is a cause of concern for environmental and conservation groups. They prey on species such as water vole and fish, and can disrupt the ecology of a canal or river.
American mink (there is also a European species) were first imported to the UK in 1929 for commercial fur farming. By 1956, they had escaped or been intentionally released into the wild and had begun to breed. There were also several instances of animal rights activists freeing large numbers of mink from fur farms in the 1990s, before the industry was banned in 2000, yet many of these animals were extremely tame and easily recaptured before they could establish themselves in the wild.
In the past 40 years, their population has exploded and they have become a common sight along waterways - yet their success has coincided with a severe decline in the number of water voles, and the rodent is now heading towards extinction.
In coastal areas, they will also take juvenile seabirds, such as gannets, from their nests.
Charities including the Canal and River Trust and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust support control of the mink population.
This summer mink have even been spotted in York city centre, with one filmed near the Waterstones store on Coney Street and a family seen playing by the river.
They are also commonly seen along the Ripon Canal.