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Mink eating my fish

 
pollinator
Posts: 770
Location: Central Virginia USA
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last winter I found a catfish skeleton by the side of my pond.  This spring I have yet to see any catfish come to the surface when I throw out pellets . There also seems a general lack of many other species--frogs etc, and my goldfish pond now has no fish over about 4 inches in length. there were several last fall at 8+inches and a couple at 1'.

I don't think there is much food in the ponds now to keep the mink feeding there (at least that's what I was told the culprit would most likely be)  and to some extent I can appreciate that a Mink family might keep down rodents etc. But I really have a problem  if I try and raise koi or really any kind of fish. The catfish were a successful experiment--at least until this last winter. and some of the goldfish were like family, and I really miss them now after raising them for years.

I don't want to over react, and I also don't want to feed a bunch of mink(or whatever it is) with all the life in my ponds.

If the ponds were already established with plenty of fish frogs turtles  to spare, OK, but totally wiping out a pond before it gets established is  trying my patience. The fish wagon came last week, but I didn't even try and buy fish to restock, and i won't until I have figured out what's going on and how best to deal with it.

Anybody know if this sounds like a mink. what would you do?
 
pollinator
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Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Mink is a definite possibility, but certainly not the only possible predators: herons, owls, hawks, eagles and raccoons are just a few others...

I would suggest that any further plans to raise fish must include a habitat that deters predation. Ensuring the ponds have adequate depth, large pipes to hide in, or other deep underwater structures for protection; sufficient plants to cover the surface for them to shelter under; netting above the water to protect against bird predation; electric fencing around pond perimeter to prevent predation from land animals...

Without first ensuring protection for whatever livestock one plans to keep or raise, eventually conflict with wildlife will occur.
 
steward
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Location: West Tennessee
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Bob do you have a trail cam handy to set up and determine exactly what is feasting on your fish?
 
bob day
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I've had herons in the past, but this predation occurred over the winter, herons were long gone--actually last year I didn't even see any in the summer. It would be difficult (at best) for a raccoon in the ponds here, so I would guess otter possibly, but the main reason I focus on mink was the catfish skeleton.

I do have a wild life cam, and will get around to setting it up soon.  I also seem to remember seeing some odd tracks, I may have even photographed them, I'll have to look and see if I still have those pictures. I sort of remember something with round pads on the ends of it's toes.
 
 
Lorinne Anderson
pollinator
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I don't know that identifying the actual culprit(s) is important - exclusion of any and all potential predators should always be the goal. Excluding just the "known" predators just sets one up for future losses through predation.

That said, sounds like those prints are likely otter, river otter.
 
bob day
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I did find those pictures, small tracks with 4 splayed finger like imprints with no sign of a  claw at the tip.
 
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Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
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Raccoons used to drop by our fish pond regularly for take out sushi, until I installed a cattle fence charger and ran wire around the edge of the pond. It's been quite a few years now and not one fish has been touched.
 
bob day
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I do have a couple small garden ponds that could be fenced, but the bigger ones would need  a large amount of energy to even begin trying to keep these varmints out. It also seems like any hole big enough for a catfish would also allow access to a mink. Maybe the solution is to just spread the gold fish to the upper pond and hope they can get established enough to at least keep a presence there. even if it is only smaller fish.

I guess this means I need to design my koi pond to keep out everything. Do you think an armed sentry service is too extreme? :-)

Here's a link to   mystery fish killer   pictures of pond, skeleton and tracks
 
Lorinne Anderson
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With a pond of that size stringing fishing line across every foot or so, 3-5 feet above the water instead of netting (at the same height) will defeat most feathered intruders. Electric fencing around the perimeter strands every three inches x 6 to a height of 18 inches should adequately secure against most land predators.

I don't deal with reptile (snakes, lizards, etc) predation here, so I can offer no help there.

On another thread, someone used a battery operated gator head that had glowing red eyes and "swam" about. That solved his and others fish predation issues.
 
bob day
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a gator head with flashing eyes, now that sounds more like it, I wonder if ebay sells them
 
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