Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Minks in Australia?

Ah, now we have a discussion to be had. My dear friend Redshoes says that the description of the farmyard masacre does not fit the homicide (chookicide?) profile of a fox! She suggests this is the modus operandi of the mink! Now the mink ( Order Carnivora : Family Mustelidae : Mustela vison Schreber) or if you like the Russian version: (Mustela lutreola) is quite a killer. While researching this I was distracted by the new trend in fur fashion: the Russian Blue Rat!

But, back to the main game. Are there mink in Australia???



Mustelids inhabit all continents except Australia and Antarctica, and do not occur on Madagascar or oceanic islands. Members of this group can be found in diverse habitats, which include both terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments. Mustelids are mainly carnivorous, with various members of the family exploiting a great diversity of both vertebrate and invertebrate prey. Mustelids are generally proficient hunters; some weasels can take prey larger than themselves. Members of this family often hunt in burrows and crevices, and some species have evolved to become adept at climbing trees (e.g., marten) or swimming (e.g., sea otters, mink) in search of prey. (Nowak, 1991; Sato et al., 2003; Vaughan, Ryan, and Czaplewski, 2000; Whitaker and Hamilton, 1998)

If you are bored with the notion of minks in Australia, try going here:

But could it be a ferret?

Tasmania

"An isolated population of ferrets exists to the south of Launceston in Tasmania. It is remarkable that the ferret is not more widely distributed in Australia, given it popularity for rabbiting." - Wilson (1967). However, "it is uncertain if the population persists today (Bomford 1991; Wilson et al. 1992)." - Moore and Whisson 1998


Queensland

In Queensland, the ferret is prohibited as a pet.

"Camels, horses, donkeys, water buffalo, ferrets, dogs and various rodents are also feral in Australia, although these are not seen as posing a significant threat to native species at this time. Environmentally many have the potential to be destructive and species such as the water buffalo have been subjected to severe control measures to minimise their impact on northern wetlands. To varying degree they all pose some threat due to habitat alteration, competition and/or predation and it is likely that some control measures will be imposed when (if) cost benefit analysis shows action to be either desirable or necessary." - Economically Viable Alternative Green, August 31, 1998.

"Rising [feral] ferret numbers in south-east Queensland have raised fears for wildlife. Department of Natural Resources officer Nigel Gallas said Beaudesert Shire sightings had leapt from none to six in a few weeks and it was "totally illegal" for private people to keep ferrets." - February 20, 1999 - Ferret alert - Courier-Mail Brief

SO - can we blame the ferrets?

1 comment:

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