SEVERAL sightings of American mink - classed as a dangerous predator to Lancashire water voles - have been made by conservationists.

Nature lovers are being asked to be on the lookout for the tiny creatures, which are also known to attack rabbits, frogs, squirrels and small birds.

Enviromental campaigners are eager to curb the spread of the mink, many of whom have either escaped or been deliberately released from fur farms in previous years.

But there have been reports of the interlopers across East Lancashire as part of a project to combat non-native species.

Supporters of the Lancashire Invasives Project are on the lookout for American mink, Himalyan balsam and Japanese knotweed as part of an ongoing study.

The earliest spotting was close to Gazegill Beck, just north of Newby, near Rimington, followed by a report that a mink was active to the west of Barker Brow, Ribchester, near the River Ribble.

In the past three or four months there have been further sightings associated with the River Calder, off Marthholme Lane, between Great Harwood and Simonstone, and Wood End, between Higham and Reedley.

And there were two reports, within days of each other, that mink were in and around Spring Wood, at Great Mitton.

A spokesman for Ribble Rivers Trust, which is behind the study, said: “Mink are voracious predators, preying on fish, mammals and birds. They will take large salmon many times their own size.

“They also contribute to the continuing decline in the population of water voles as they are small enough to enter the voles’ burrows.”

One of the main aims of the project is to successfully capture and rehome the minks. Further reports can be made at