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Spring Newsletter 2019

In this issue;
  • Invasive Species Week
  • Looking back on 2018
  • Focus on: American mink
  • News and Events
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Invasive Species Week
National invasive species week was held between 13-17 May, which being a project about invasive species we were very excited about!
We kicked off the week with a visit from Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, who visited the team and volunteers on the River Esk to find out all about our project and how we are tackling invasive species.
During the week we then ran a range of activities; we hosted 11 school groups, had a fantastic turn out of 47 volunteers at practical conservation events, and ran 5 events/guided walks. Overall we engaged directly with over 300 people, so thanks to everyone who got involved during the week.
We had a great week and we connected with lots of people both in person and via social media, spreading the word about invasive species and their impacts - but don't forget we do this every day, so if you'd like to get involved, just get in touch. 
Looking back over 2018
The first full year of the project was a busy one, with most of the staff team coming into post in early Spring 2018. We didn't get to pause for breath as the invasive plants were also starting grow and action was needed immediately! 

We've been heartened by the number of volunteers that have got involved with us during our first year, and this is something we've worked hard to develop, as the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative is a volunteering project - aiming to establish community based, sustainable, long-term management of invasives through empowering and equipping volunteers.

Together we've achieved great things already, and this is just Year 1.  We look forward to building on this amazing start and hope you'll do it with us.
Focus on: American Mink
Brought to Scotland for the fur trade in 1938, mink started escaping into the countryside almost immediately and were established as breeding in the wild in the 1960's. A rapid spread of mink was seen in the 60's and early 70's. 

Mink are opportunistic and ferocious hunters taking whatever prey is available to them - birds & their eggs, small mammals, fish, amphibians, shellfish and crustaceans. Their presence has a devastating effect on native Scottish wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds and water vole and populations.
Read more about mink.

Project update
Our project aims to establish a network of mink monitoring rafts across the project area. To date there are 248 rafts and 156 traps out, being looked after by 238 volunteers. 

Suffice to say - we could not do this without you, so a huge thank you to all our mink volunteers.

Every raft out there makes a difference in ensuring we have a good coverage across our area. Even those that have never recorded mink presence are important to help us build an accurate picture of mink distribution.
 
Since our project started we've together caught and dispatched 90 mink. Of these, 19 were between Jan - Mar this year, a critical time for control, before females breed and start feeding young.

One female mink hunting a 4km stretch of river can take 100 water voles over the 3-4 months of feeding her young, that is often an entire local population wiped out. 

Read more; Mink Control Project
News & Events
Events - Volunteers' Week (1-7 June).
We've got several events on during Volunteers' Week, so a great chance to get involved and help remove some invasive Himalayan balsam. Details of all events here.
Conservation Volunteer Events
Sun 2 Jun - Dunkeld
Tues 4 Jun - Perth
Tues 4 June - Spey Bay (Fochabers)
Wed 5 Jun - Luncarty (Nr Perth)
Fri 7 Jun - Bridge of Dun (Montrose)
News - Minister helps tackle alien invasion
Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon marked national invasive species week by joining volunteer efforts to tackle invasive species.
Read more
News - Sheep join battle against plant invaders in Macduff
A new woolly weapon is being deployed in the battle against Giant hogweed in Macduff as part of trial works. 
Read more
 
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The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) is a 4-year partnership project, led by Scottish Natural Heritage and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with the University of Aberdeen and ten fishery trusts/boards as partners.
Copyright © 2019 SISI All rights reserved.

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