Most people do not realize that Presque Isle is home to quite a few Minks. They are a member of the species mustelid and are commonly known as American Mink. They are semi-aquatic and live only close to water. Presque Isle is a perfect place for Minks to find a home. Other members of this species include ferrets, weasels, skunks, and wolverine. Yes, I said skunks. They are a distant relative of minks.
When you visit the park early in the morning, you may see them running along the roadside, climbing over the rocks lining the bayside, or as I did last week, running alongside the shoreline of Horseshoe Pond. Brian Gula, an Environmental Education Specialist at Presque Isle, tells me that he has seen families of Mink at both Leo’s Landing and Fry’s Landing.
The American Mink is a carnivore which feeds on fish, rodents, frogs and sometimes birds. It has a long thin body, which allows it to enter the borrows of prey. Its tenacious and slightly aggressive disposition has earned it the title of the most efficient carnivore.
Its streamlined shape also helps it to reduce water resistance while it swims. The paws of Minks are broad, with partial webbing between some of their toes. During swimming, the Mink propels itself primarily through undulating movements of the trunk. Unlike its cousin, the weasel, a Mink will very seldom stray from a wet location. Mink dens can be almost anywhere with access to water. They typically consist of long burrows in banks of lagoons, rivers or ponds, holes under logs, tree stumps, pond or in bayside stone piles. Their dens are about four inches in diameter, and may be 12 to 14 feet in depth. The nesting chamber is located at the end of the den, and is about 15 inches in diameter. A den usually has many entrances and twisting passages.
While these animals seem cute and harmless, they have sharp claws, and because they are carnivores, they have teeth designed to rip, tear and kill their prey. In plain English, view them from a distance and do not feed them. Like all wild animals, minks can be vicious if they think they are cornered. As an Erie Yacht Club member and a boater, I can tell you; these cute little guys can become a nuisance. The rock walls all along the bay shore have become a favorite place to establish a den for many of these creatures. While most of the time they are fun to watch and look adorable, I have heard stories about boaters having confrontations with them when they decide to become uninvited guests on a boat.
When you are on the park, keep your eye out for the Minks. Remember, if you see in one in the interior trails and paths, it most likely is not a Mink, but is a Weasel.
See you on the park!!
Categorised in: Wildlife
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