CONCLUSIONS OF THE
WORKSHOPS OF THE CONFERENCE ON THE CONSERVATION
OF THE EUROPEAN MINK. LOGROÑO. LA RIOJA (SPAIN).
5-8 NOVEMBER 2003
"In Situ" Conservation
European mink is declining worldwide within its natural range.
We have some hypothesis of this decline (habitat loss, American
mink, disseases, ...) but, however, no clear explanations
have been identified.
Status, ecology and conservation needs may vary through out
The real importance of European mink conservation at a worldwide
scale has to be pointed out, in front of other so called "endangered"
Authorities must increase attention and resources for European
mink conservation. This is especially true in small population
(for example in France). In other case the species will disappear
To avoid the extinction of Mustela lutreola it is necessary:
Monitoring the distribution of the European mink and the
American mink, specially in adjacent areas
Research with the final goal of understanding the concrete
causes of declining for European mink populations, paying
attention to the combination of factors (even for possible
Increase the legal conservation status as "Endangered",
including always the species within the Ecological Impact
Evaluate and reduce local threats and limiting factors
for the E-minks such as road mortality, trapping and by-catch,
disturbance by people, predation by domestic, feral or wild
predators, food, shelter for breeding or resting, rodenticide,
.... E-mink habitat can be improved by the re-introductions
or natural recovery of beaver.
Habitat conservation is a necessary, even though not sufficient
for securing survival of the species. The habitat must be
managed or restored, in order to maintain the riperian ecosystems
and to increase the prey (fish, amphibians, etc) and shelter
availability for European mink. The watercourse management
plans have to take into account the conservation requirements
of the European mink.
About pollution: (a) analyses have to be performed about
the pollution levels in the river ecosystems and also in
the European mink tissues; (b) water authorities must work
to decrease pollution levels.
Research on the main habitat features should be undertaken,
specially for the more sensitive moments of the biological
cycle (breeding, dispersal,
). Habitat suitability
models may help in conserving European mink habitat. Also
research on biology, ecology and behaviour (between others)
should be done.
About scale problems: (a) we have to keep in mind area
requirements for minimum viable population, (b) habitat
fragmentation should be avoided, recovering connectivity
of isolated patches, and (c) we must pay attention to the
fact that the "European mink habitat" is only
a little part of landscape, because of this semiaquatic
About American mink control: research for new more efficient
methodologies should be undertaken in next years. However,
(a) trapping barriers should be create to prevent American
mink invasion, (b) small American mink populations should
be eradicated, and (c) even if it's impossible to eradicate
American mink populations, efforts are encouraged for decreasing
Involvement of relevant stakeholders: water authorities,
hunters, fishermen, landowners, fur farmers, country side
people, and other.
Get the necessary attention of local and national of GOs
and NGOs, and society, to know the importance of the species,
the problems associated and to receive resources (human,
economic and material).
Aleutian diseases and other pathologies must be monitored.
Avoid the decrease in genetic variability, inbreeding and
the population isolation.
Re-introduction: (a) to create or recover European mink
in safe islands (under a wide island concept), (b) their
realisation should take in consideration the experiences
from this and other similar species (financial and socio-administrative
needs being ensured for the whole project).
- Monitoring of the introduced European mink populations
situ" strategies for the
The general aim of the European captive breeding program
has to be defined as follows:
"Preservation of the genetic
diversity of the species."
The Pan-European program may and must consist of regional
and/or national programs (eg. French, Spanish, Russian etc.)
with different objectives depending upon of specific features
of the regional requirements. Such objectives include a range
of activities, including education, research, reintroduction,
etc. The regional objectives must be in concordance with the
general, international, aim.
The ex situ and in situ tools have to be regarded
as complementary to each other. Yet, considering the rapid
decline of wild populations, the ex situ tools are of growing
importance in securing the survival of the species.
Along with the conservation breeding program(s), the development
and use of new advanced technologies have to be promoted,
such as assisted reproduction and development of a Genome
It is important to inform the stakeholders such as range
states, regional zoo organizations (eg. EARAZA) and the European
Commission on the growing importance of the ex situ tools
in conservation of the European mink. It is important to realize
that a conservation breeding operation involves a long-term
commitment, not easily fitting into rapid project-based management
The all-European conservation breeding program has to be
organized around or into the already existing EEP Program
with the involvement of presently participating organizations
like, among others, Tallinn Zoo (Estonia), Euronerz (Germany),
Pavlov (Czeck Republic), Thoiry Zoo (France), but also all
new or planned effective conservation breeding initiatives
in Spain, France, Russia (eg. the state breeding initiative
in Tsernogolovka Field Station) and other countries.
The conservation breeding initiatives have to be organized
into a general European framework, while the establishment
of regional subprograms is encouraged.
The establishment of effective information exchange framework
is of highest importance in this general action framework.
The framework for all the breeding initiative has to be organized
in the form of a species committee, with involvement of all
active regional breeding initiatives.
In regard of the question of the number of management units (ESU-s)
the workshop has concluded the following:
- For the time being, and following the precautionary principle,
the Spanish/French, eastern European, and Romanian populations
have be regarded as separate management units.
- Under the eastern European management unit only animals from
subspecies, Mustela lutreola novikovi, should be incorporated
into the program.
- During the next 3-5 years the more thorough detailed studies
have to be conducted in order to resolve the following points:
- Develop new methods to determine more polymorphic loci
(present ones are not sensitive enough)
- Conduct comparative morphology studies
- Study on comparative ethology
- Study on potential habitat differences (including the
species role in riparian ecosystem) between subspecies
- Look for indications of inbreeding depression in the Western
and Romanian populations ( Workshop I)
- Look for possible effect of outbreeding between the populations.
- After these studies the decision has to be made by the species
committee on the future number of management units in breeding
Legal, administrative and management aspects
of the European mink.
Reclassify the European Mink as a priority species in the
Habitats Directive and in all the countries, declare the populations
as an endangered species.
Increase the scope of the Sites of Community Interest (Natura
2000). Management Plans experts Bern Convention incorporation
Ensure the effective implementation of Community Legislation
throughout the EU.
Within the framework of the Bern Convention, draft and implement
national conservation programmes which are realistic and achievable
in those countries which have signed it.
In those countries where the public water systems are controlled
by regional and national water authorities, make a clear distinction
of the areas of responsibility regarding conservation of the
habitats and the species, especially those authorities responsible
for water use.
Make clear that the priority is the conservation of the habitat
of the European Mink. This implies that the water quality,
water courses, woods and other riparian vegetation must be
protected and preserved. In this sense, the concept of biological
corridors will be promoted as a means of protecting the habitat
for the Natura 2000 network.
Draw up co-ordinated international programmes between all
the countries with populations , or potential habitats of
the E-mink and seek funding for the implementation of these
About American mink farms:
(a) to establish more efective requirements to avoid escapes,
(b) to forbid the establishment of new mink farms within
the European mink range,
(c) to encourage the already existing farms to substitute
mink whith other animals, and
(d) to remove as soon as possible mink from massive releases.
- To encourage the establishment of an international European
mink Working Group and information exchange network.