Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Fifty years later, We meet on Loch Awe.

For some years now I have fished Loch Awe for trout , on a boat hired from Donald at Ardbreknish. The loch is about 25 miles long,and it takes a "dog left" at its northern end, past the Cruachan Power Station outflow,terminating at the barrage in the Pass of Brander.Here the loch is very narrow,where the hills plunge almost vertically into the waters. This allows us to fish very close to the loch's sides. Two months ago,near the end of the trout season,we were in the Pass of Brander fishing close to its south side,when only a few yards from me,I "espied" a long sleek black animal travelling parallel with us,and in our direction. It had been a long time(nearly fifty years)since I had seen a mink,but never in the wild. I recognised this long black "weasel-like" animal as a male mink, with its neat whiskered head and its undulating gait as it moved alongside us. We observed it at close quarters for about five minutes,and throughout, it was was completely unfazed. As I said, I'd seen minks a long time ago,hundreds of them,but all were in cages(well,most of the time)and all of them in Dalmore. Fifty years on,the American mink has acquired a very bad press indeed,and nowhere more than in the Outer Hebrides,where a programme of eradication was instituted some years ago. Mink farms were set up in Lewis in the period 1955-1960,but there were only a few. This was a labour intensive and costly enterprise in which Seoras wholly immersed himself, over a period of years. With the rise of the anti-fur lobby,and the vast financial investments needed to push the business into profit,the future looked bleak for Britain's mink farms. Over this period,mink did accidently escape into the wild,but there were accusations that during the closure of some farms,mink were deliberately released,as the killing and pelting of these mink would incur a lot of expense, with no return. I find that hard to believe, as farmers especially would know how vicious and destructive the mink can be,and how devastating it would be for indigenous wildlife.
We will see how Seoras' minks fared in Dalmore.

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