The American Mink (Neovison vison) boasts an impressive range stretching from the west to east coast of the United States and from the arctic tundra to South America. Through human introduction, the mink has even expanded its range to parts of Europe. Counting the tail, minks measure approximately15–18 inches in body length, with females measuring 3-4 inches smaller. An elongated and slim creature, despite the mink’s long length, they rarely exceed more than 2-3 pounds.
Coloration of individuals can vary from brown to an almost black.
Mink maintain hunting territories by marking an area with a strong odor from their scent glands. While primarily preying on fish, a large part of the mink’s diet also consists of rodents, birds and a wide assortment of crustaceans and amphibians. Mink routinely kill more than they can eat and store the extra for later in their dens.
A solitary creature by nature, minks will not tolerate intrusion into their territories by other minks, males and females even den separately except when breeding. A promiscuous animal, the mink does not form pair bond but instead prefers to mate with a different individual each breeding season. The mating season begins in February with young born by June. Litters on mink young or “kits” average around 4 individuals with litters as high as 16 being recorded by minks in captivity. The kits begin hunting after eight weeks, but stay with their mothers until fall, when they become independent. For rearing young, shelter and protection from predators, mink create burrows in river banks or hollow trees.
An opportunist, the mink will even occasionally nest in burrows dug by other animals such as muskrats, squirrels and other rodents.
A vicious and ferocious creature despite its relatively diminutive size, few predators prey on the mink, and they are only occasionally eaten by bobcats, fox, coyotes or owls. The average lifespan of a wild mink spans from 1 to 3 years with a vast majority of mink falling prey to disease, starvation and predators within the first six months. In captivity, minks may live as long as seven years.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is the range of the American Mink?
2. How long is the American Mink?
3. How much does an American Mink weigh?
4. What does the American Mink eat?
5. What are baby American Minks called?
6. How many kits are in a typical American Mink litter?
7. How soon after birth can kits begin hunting?
8. What is the average lifespan of an American Mink?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. The American Mink boasts an impressive range stretching from the west to east coast of the United States and from the arctic tundra to South America. Through human introduction, the mink has even expanded its range to parts of Europe.
2. The American Mink measures approximately 15–18 inches in body length, with females measuring 3-4 inches smaller
3. American Minks rarely exceed more than 2-3 pounds.
4. The American Mink primarily preys on fish; a large part of the mink’s diet also consists of rodents, birds and a wide assortment of crustaceans and amphibians.
5. Baby American Minks are called kits.
6. American Mink litters average around 4 kits with litters as high as 16 being recorded by minks in captivity.
7. Kits can begin hunting after eight weeks.
8. The average lifespan of a wild American Mink is from 1 to 3 years with a vast majority of mink falling prey to disease, starvation and predators within the first six months.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Monday, June 8, 2015
Monday, June 1, 2015
Ticks, family Friendly Hikes and Spring Fishing
By June the black fly and the mosquito have both begun to take over the Maine woods. In recent years, Down East has caught up with the southern part of the state and we are now seeing a slow but steady invasion by deer ticks. One bite from a tick carrying Lyme disease has the potential to completely destroy the health and well being of an individual and has even in some cases caused death. With one in four deer ticks carry Lyme disease, according to Jim Dill, pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; it is imperative that Maine residents are properly prepared to address the tick issue. While bug sprays containing Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) like the commercially Bens 100 and Deep Woods Off are extremely effective in keeping black flies and mosquitoes away, ticks require Permethrin. Sure, the warning label contains multiple references to developing cancer but at least you won’t die of a tick bite! Since I started using Permethrin, I can sit in the leaf litter and tall field grass all day without seeing a single tick. Just MAKE SURE to read the back of the can as Permethrin has to be applied in a very specific way and cannot be applied directly to bare skin. Yeah, I know, I know . . . but like I said before, at least you won’t die from a tick bite!
Bell’s Mountain and Crane Mountain
Thus properly equipped to fend off Maine’s voracious blood sucking insects, why not take a short hike up Bell’s Mountain and Crane Mountain at Tide Mill Farms in Edmunds (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 27, A-1). Both of the hikes are rated as moderate difficulty and for the effort invested in climbing the 1.2 and 1.4 mile trails are rich with rewarding views of Cobscook and Whiting Bay. Hikers should bring binoculars as the endangered Fin, Humpback, Minke, and Atlantic Right Whales frequent these waters and can sometimes be spotted from the summit. While the trails are managed by Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IFW) both mountains are privately owned. It is certainly a privilege to have access to these mountains, so visitors should make sure to pack in and pack out any garbage. To access the Bell’s Mountain and Crane Mountain trailhead from southbound on Route 1, turn right onto Bell Mountain Road 0.3 miles after the green bridge crossing Crane Mill Brook and proceed 0.25 miles to Bell’s Mountain trailhead on left. To reach Crane Mountain trailhead, continue on Bell Mountain Road for 0.7 miles. Bear right at fork in the road and follow to the end of a short road for trailhead parking. If the gate providing access to Crane Mountain parking lot is closed, park at the Bell’s Mountain parking area and walk.
Another fun mountain to explore is Klondike Mountain in Lubec (Map 27, A-4). This small monolith exists as part of the “Bold Coast”, a 40-mile length of coastline stretching from West Quoddy Head in Lubec to the town of Cutler. Dramatic rough hewn granite cliffs rise almost 150 feet above the water’s edge and blow holes, caves and arches all add to the absolute splendor of this exquisite area. Several varieties of highly specialized plants including many only found in alpine or sub-arctic habitats call this area home, so great care should be taken to stay on marked trails to avoid impacting this fragile ecosystem. The hike to the summit o Klondike Mountain is rated as easy/moderate difficulty and the summit can be reached in 0.6 miles. The trail skirts along the water before rising 150 feet through forested land to a bald summit overlooking South Bay, Cobscook Bay, Lubec, Eastport and Campobello Island. To access Klondike Mountain, travel 1 mile north of Route 189 on the North Lubec Road. Look for the Klondike Mountain sign on the left. The trail begins in open field sprinkled with apple trees.
Tired of hiking and looking to pick up the rod and reel? Chalk Pond (Map 25, B-1) in Beddington is a shallow and weedy 32 acre body of water located near the intersection of Rt. 9 and 193. Access to the pond is possible via a short trail located at the pond’s extreme southwest end, off Rt. 193. As a warm water pond holding little dissolved oxygen and with a maximum depth of 19 feet, the pond is unable to support brook trout but does supports numerous pickerel in the 12-19 inch range and yellow perch, enough to provide fast action. While it is highly unlikely that the next state-record pickerel will be pulled from these waters, Chalk Pond offers fast fishing that is certain to be enjoyed by all. Just don’t forget to tell any newbie anglers in your group that pickerel pack a mouthful of razor sharp teeth!! When fishing, be sure to concentrate efforts on the eastern side of the pond as the western side is extremely shallow. With a generous daily bag limit on pickerel set at 10 fish and with no length limit, even the hungriest anglers will catch their fill if they wish to keep a few. Decapitated, gutted, wrapped in tinfoil and thrown on the coals of a fire they are a campfire treat ready in minutes.
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