The Everglades mink is currently listed as Threatened by the State of Florida. However, there are no historical or current estimates of the size or density of the mink population in southern Florida.
The Conservancy’s von Arx Wildlife Hospital received a juvenile female Everglades mink in February 2010 that was collected in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park (FSSP). The mink suffered an injury to its left eye that resulted in permanent loss of vision and exhibited other behaviors consistent with neurological damage.
After approximately two weeks of rehabilitation, the mink showed positive signs of recovering from her injuries (with the exception of eye damage) that warranted her release back into the wild.
Conservancy biologists sought and obtained approval from Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to surgically implant an intraperitoneal transmitter to monitor the mink post-release to assess the effectiveness of this monitoring technique, assess the success of a wild-release post-convalescence, and to collect baseline ecological data on the Everglades mink.
Prior to this date, no one had successfully monitored a free-ranging mink via radiotelemetry in the State of Florida.
The mink was surgically fitted with the transmitter then was held in quarantine post-surgery to monitor healing and to minimize the likelihood of self-inflicted injuries and/or damage to the suture site.
Biologists also confirmed the mink could sufficiently capture live prey (fish) prior to her release.
The mink was released on near the point she was originally found and was monitored via telemetry for over six months. Baseline ecological observations collected during this opportunistic study will be used to refine remote camera survey techniques in the FSSP and the study will be repeated if opportunity arises.
It is noteworthy to mention that there has been an increase in mink sightings in the Western Everglades in 2015.
Mink are semi-aquatic mammals and members of the weasel family, which include otters, ferrets, badgers, and martens. Minks can be found near rivers, lakes, and marshes throughout North America and Canada.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, wild minks are less abundant than they were 50 years ago. The quality of their habitat has been degraded through development, stream channelization, and the drainage of wetlands. Mink occur in three distinct populations in Florida. Two populations of mink inhabit the salt marshes of the northern Gulf and Atlantic coasts; while the southern Florida population, the Everglades Mink (Mustela vison evergladensis), is listed as a threatened subspecies.
The Everglades mink is currently believed to be limited to the shallow freshwater marshes and long-hydroperiod swamps of the Fakahatchee Strand, Big Cypress Swamp, and southern portions of the Everglades.
Historically, it occupied a much larger range covering much of the northern Everglades and Lake Okeechobee region; however because of the wariness of the species habits, there are no historical or current estimates of the size or density of the population. Developing a feasible, non-invasive survey methodology for the Everglades mink will not only facilitate future designs of more rigorous surveys to establish mink distribution, habitat and populations; but also be an essential component in assessing the impacts of Everglades Restoration projects on the species.
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