Wildlife Spotlight: Furbearer frenzy: The Mink

Scientific name: Mustela vison

Small predator furbearers are some of the most fun, and most uncommon, animals to see in the wild. And mink are some of the most secretive in this group! Minks are in the weasel family and can grow to about the size of a housecat. Unlike weasels however, mink do not change color in winter. Mink are generally dark furred, with a distinctive white patch on their chins. Mink seem to be more common in the southern tier of New York State, so keep an eye out for these adorable buggers on your hikes in that area.

Mink were traditionally prized and trapped for their soft, glossy coats. Mink coats were a status symbol in the early 20th century, with most coats made from wild-caught mink. However, the 1950s through the 1970s saw a large increase in the production of farmed mink, especially from Europe, which reduced the burden on the wild populations. Today, trapping licenses for mink are available through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the season is open when the population can withstand normal trapping pressures. DEC reports that the mink population is stable and able to sustain the trapping that still exists.

Mink are excellent swimmers, and they can also climb trees. Their clawed and webbed feet make them versatile predators. They are opportunistic predators, meaning they prey on crayfish, frogs, lizards, eggs, earthworms- pretty much anything they can find! They prefer wetland, or stream habitats, and will actually use existing burrows for their dens. They prefer muskrat holes, and some individuals have even been reported to evict (and eat) a resident muskrat to use a preferred hole.

Don’t forget to report mink and any other furbearers you see to DEC, to help with annual population data collection on these seldom seen species:

Email: wildlife@dec.ny.gov

Online: Upstate NY

Long Island


Post by Keleigh Reynolds, State Parks

American mink, By Mink_in_the_park.jpg qmnonic derivative work Mariomassone (Mink_in_the_park.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

7 thoughts on “Wildlife Spotlight: Furbearer frenzy: The Mink”

  1. Minutes ago, a mink ran through our property. We have a large pond with marshy ground in nearby areas. We suspect that this is the attraction. I have no doubt that this was a mink. We have seen a few during the 47 years that we’ve lived here. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a mink. It was too full bodied to be a weasel but it ran similarly. Also, my family raised and I tended mink when I was a teen.

  2. I just saw a mink hunting and catching something it had in its mouth, on the edge of the lake here in North Salem NY, It was waling on the ice, and went into the water to grab whatever it got, I was to slow to take a picture.It seemed to live along the shore here in front of my house in a wetland area,
    Very cool.

  3. I live in Slate Hill NY in Orange County. I have caught pictures of black mink on my trail camera I set up to monitor the deer population in my back yard. One was seen in early October and the last one I saw was on Oct 22nd. I had to do some research to see what it was and it is a mink.

    1. I believe I saw one today in Hamptonburgh NY. It was beautiful. Long and black with a fluffy rather long tail. I was too mesmerized to even get the camera.

    2. I live outside Montgomery. and also researched it. I had one in my chicken coop. It was going after a rat. Pretty sure this is what it was for it was solid black and the size of a small cat

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