Woman highlights park mink threat

BEXHILL bird-lover Angela Weston claims a wild mink loose in Egerton Park is harming swans, ducks and wild birds in its voracious quest for food.

She is also angry that some dog owners are adding to problems by ignoring new by-laws requiring them to keep their pets on leads at all times.

Mrs Weston, of Sackville Road, visits the picturesque town centre park daily with tit-bits for her feathered friends, many of which will eat straight from her hand. Feeding the birds is something she has done in all weathers for the best part of 10 years.

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But in recent weeks she has become increasingly anxious about threats to their safety from the mink and roaming dogs, and has called on Rother District Council to do more to protect the park’s wildlife.

Mrs Weston said: “I’d like to see something being done to trap and remove the mink, which is not native and may have been released by animal rights activists. I know for a fact it has killed a heron and a couple of pigeons, and ducks and swans in the park are terrified of it.

“I’d also like to see permanent notices erected warning dog owners of the consequences of not having their animals on leads. All but one of several paper notices put up have been torn down, presumably by dog owners who want to let their pets roam free.

“They can perfectly well do that in the Polegrove, but in Egerton Park it’s important that they are restrained, and also that owners pick up after them if they defecate. There is a £75 penalty for ignoring this, but the park is never properly patrolled.”

Rother District Council’s head of environmental health Richard Parker Harding said : “We’re aware of the sighting of the mink, and are monitoring the situation.

“To date there have been very sporadic sightings of the animal, and we have had one reported incidence where the mink caught an animal. The mink is classed as vermin and we are seeking advice on how best to trap it in the most humane way.”

The council’s head of amentities, Madeleine Gorman, said: “The new signage is being prepared. As soon they are ready we will be putting them up.

“We have recently altered the way the park rangers operate to have a greater presence in main areas.

“The vast majority of people have responded postively to the new dog control requirements but members of the public who witness people allowing their dogs off their leads should report the incident to the Park Ranger service on 01424 787526.

“The Rangers may not be able to respond immediately but over a period of time can identify repeat offenders and take appropriate action.”

LEFT: Angela Weston