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By Jamie Swafford

Last year a large, probably male, mink was hanging out in our little wood shed. We discovered this one day last summer because he was making a lot of noise chasing a rat through the wood piles. Actually, the rat was making the noise. The mink was pretty quiet. But we'd see him pop his head up between the stacks of wood and look around and then dive back down to chase the rat some more. Eventually, he caught up with the rat and carried it away into the red wood trees.

Mink are dedicated hunters and vicious killers. They kill for the thrill of it. One time a mink got into the chicken house through a small knot hole in a board. He killed all the hens - every one. Even though he couldn't possibly eat all of them - or even one of them - or carry any of them away through the knot hole. He did this for the shear joy of killing. We saved lids from canned goods and used them to cover every knot hole - 'course it was a little late for that batch of hens.

City people who have never lived where nature is real - have this ideal of animals only doing good - being pure and innocent - better than human beings. That is not true at all. There is almost nothing as cruel as nature in the raw.

A couple of days ago Don was hauling wood from the small wood shed to the wood box that we use everyday for our fires. And he came across a large nest full of some kind of young animals. The mom showed up as soon as the babies started fussing and he could almost see her - but not enough to tell for sure what she was - could have been a chipmunk - or a mink. We were hoping for a mink - they at least kill rodents and are good to have around the place. Chipmunks are a nuisance.

Yesterday the question was answered because we were able to get a good look at the mom. It is a mink. We don't know how many young she has or how old they are - but hope she will continue to live in the wood shed. She's a lot smaller than the hunter of last summer - so he's probably the dad.

Years ago a mink killed a gray digger (ground squirrel) and was carrying it up one of the steep banks across from our house. The squirrel was much larger than this mink - and the bank is almost straight up, but he carried it with an ease that seemed effortless. They must be incredibly strong creatures.

Mink are vicious and cruel and merciless - but they have an important place in the natural world. I hate rats and mice and can't stand the idea of having one of the nasty things in or around my house. Cats are not much good at hunting rodents - they are better at killing birds - which is not something we want. I'd much rather have a confusion of mink. (“Confusion” is the collective term. - Spike)


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