The impact of feral mink on indigenous wildlife is very difficult to assess, as there are often a number of possible causes for any decrease in the indigenous wildlife population and these may be interrelated. The Living Water project of the Welsh Wildlife Trust was established in 1994 and funded by, among others, the Countryside Council for Wales. It will provide valuable survey data in due course on the status of the otter, water voles and feral mink.
I thank my hon. Friend for that response and am delighted that there is a research project going on into the status of wild mink in Wales, as elsewhere. Does he recognise, however, that feral mink pose one of the greatest dangers to small mammals and bird life in Britain—in Wales havoc is created as the mink spread along river systems—and that the problem needs to be taken very seriously?
Certainly, the matter is being taken seriously; there is no underestimating of the problem. As well as the research which I have already mentioned, there are recommended procedures for cage trapping and humane disposal.