Shock as mink is spotted in Horsham Park

Passersby were shocked when they spotted a wild mink in Horsham Park.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 1:06 pm

Dan Phillips was walking through the park on his way to work last week when he saw the animal near the park’s pond.

“I thought at first that it might have been a ferret that had escaped from somewhere.

“It was a bit of a shock when I realised it was a mink. You don’t expect to see that on your way to work.”

Mink 'common in Sussex'. Photo: Derek Middleton, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Dan, who was with his partner Rebecca and baby son Arthur at the time, added: “There were some ducks nearby but they didn’t seem to be that alarmed by him.”

Horsham District Council, which owns the park, said it was aware of the mink.

A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the animal spotted in Horsham Park is a mink.

“We believe it will most probably follow the path of the River Arun. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Mink spotted close to ducks at the pond in Horsham Park. Photo: Dan Phillips

“The pond is undergoing dredging works as part of essential improvement works.

“Consequently the ducks are likely to fly to another pond and only return once the works have been completed.”

More people have since come forward reporting sightings of mink in the town - near Prewetts Mill and at the River Arun near Horsham’s cricket ground.

Charlotte Owen from Sussex Wildlife Trust said: “The American Mink is a non-native invasive species, originally brought here to be farmed for its fur, but now living wild across Sussex and the UK.

“It is fairly common and widespread. Being semi-aquatic, it is usually seen in or close to water, where it is sometimes mistaken for the native Otter.

“Mink are voracious predators and highly damaging to our native wildlife, particularly Water Vole and Kingfisher, as Mink can squeeze into their riverside burrows leaving them with no means of escape.

“As a result, and alongside habitat degradation, Water Vole numbers crashed by 90 per cent in less than a decade and are still struggling today.

“From a conservation perspective, Mink trapping is necessary and since it is illegal to release them once caught, they must be humanely dispatched.

“Effective control can be difficult without taking a broad, landscape scale approach as Mink travel easily along river corridors, and readily re-colonise.”