Wild Times: Great day for a swim

I have only seen a few of these creatures in my lifetime. What is odd about this animal that I spotted a couple of weeks ago is that this is the second sighting in the last month. The first sighting occurred on a fishing charter boat in Alaska in the middle of November. The animal I am referring to is a mink.

I realize that seeing a mink is not a rare occurrence but then again it is not something that you spot everyday. If you are a trapper, this time of the year is just what you have been waiting for and you would probably see several of these creatures. I am not, so the sighting was a rare event for me. My first encounter on the fishing boat was up close and personal. The mink was a mere five feet from me so I got a really closeup look at it. It was a beautiful animal and a lot larger than I thought it would be.

The second sighting took place north of town several weeks ago. I was down next to a creek that flowed through some pasture ground. It is a water flow that never freezes up even when the temperatures drop to the levels we have experienced the last couple of weeks. I approached the creek, and there was the mink on the bank about 20 feet from the water’s edge. I got within 20 feet of the animal when it sensed danger and made a mad dash for the creek. He was gone in the blink of an eye!

I tried to get to where I could see more of the shy mammal, but there was too much structure along the creek and he could have hid in any one of a hundred spots. As I surveyed the area, I thought to myself that this location is a perfect place for a critter such as a mink. The creek has a continual flow and is surrounded by timber and is in a very secluded place.

As I walked away from the area, I assumed that the mink hit the water swimming and made its way down the creek. Sighting a mink in Kansas is not rare. The mink is a member of the weasel family and is what is known as a semi-aquatic mammal. In other words, it is equally at home in the water or the woods that are nearby to the water source.

A mink’s home range can extend for a couple of miles along a watercourse. If you have ever seen a mink move, you can see that it could easily cover several miles. A mink is a solitary animal and is usually seen only by itself. Only during breeding season will one find two minks together, and that is around the month of February.

So my sighting of the one mink makes sense. A mink is a carnivorous animal that feeds on creatures that live in the water and on the land. A mink is a voracious predator that will attack an animal that is much larger than itself. A mink weighs around two to three pounds but will take on animals twice its size. Believe it or not, one of the main animals on a mink’s dinner plate is a muskrat!

A mink is a notorious nest robber and is known for destroying waterfowl nests. Back in the days when most farmsteads raised chickens, the mink was famous for robbing nests and also killing chickens. It has been studied and recorded that most minks do not live longer than three years in the wild.

They are preyed upon by Great Horned Owls and coyotes, foxes and bobcats. There are probably more mink out there than we know of. They are a secretive animal that inhabits areas not normally frequented by humans. To see one in the wild is a special treat. Most of the mink seen are done so by the trappers that pursue them for the three month season. They are truly a beautiful animal.

Tim Kellenberger113 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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