MINK that have been sighted in a park could be a devastating danger for local wildlife, warn naturalists.

Four mink that were spotted last week have sparked fears that they have bred, which would be very bad news for the future of the animals in Wanstead Park, in Wanstead Park Avenue, Wanstead.

Wild mink, which descend from ancestors brought over from North America in 1929 for their fur - are famously efficient hunters and have no known predators in the UK, meaning that the hundreds of water fowl and birds that grace the park are at risk from the animals.

Paul Ferris, a local naturalist and member of the Wanstead Parklands Community Project, said: “Even one is a big problem for water fowls and birds.”

“If it’s a family, they would be devastating for them.” “We may not have noticed their effect so far but I suspect we’re actually losing a lot more than we realise - we don’t notice until they’re gone.”

The news comes after regular sightings of a single mink have been reported over the last three years, more recently getting further and further afield, to Perch Pond and Heronry Pond, while the four last week were seen at the back of the Ornamental Waters.

Paul Donovan, a nature enthusiast who spotted the four, said: “Something needs to be done because they can kill everything in sight and if they kill the voles, that has implications for the birds and suddenly they’re having an impact on the park’s ecology.”

Naturalists urged the City of London Corporation, which manages Wanstead Park, to capture the mink humanely before they cause lasting damage.

A spokesman said: “Mink are becoming widespread in waterways across the UK and are certainly not unique to Wanstead Park.”

“We would like to encourage members of the public to notify Wanstead Park staff or telephone 0208 502 1010 if they do spot a mink.

“Although they do not currently appear to be having an adverse impact on other wildlife species, we do record sightings in order to monitor their numbers to assist with future management.”

Open spaces with waterways across Britain witnessed a rise in wild mink after animal rights campaigners broke into fur farms in the early 2000s to release the animals.

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