Threats and protection

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The European mink
Threats and protection


Destruction, degradation and fragmentation of its habitats

The European mink is highly dependent on the wetlands which have critically decreased in quality and quantity during the 20th century. The conversion of wetlands into agricultural land and degradation of the water quality have resulted in the disappearance of the resting, breeding and feeding areas, and also in the decrease of prey available. These factors have had a dramatic impact on the population of European mink.

boisements rivulaires, habitats fréquentés par le Vison d’Europe

Riverside woodland, the European mink habitat (© Alexis Orseau / LPO)

Road casualties

Linear infrastructures and in particular roads are a major obstacle for the movements of the European mink. Due to increasing traffic, road casualties are more frequent especially during the breeding season. Indeed, because the European mink population density is low, they travel large distances to find a partner resulting in a higher collision risk.

Mustelid victim of a road collision

Mustelid victim of a road collision (© Philippe Jourde / LPO)

The American mink

The American mink was imported into France at the beginning of the 20th century for the commercial value of its fur. Escaped animals have since colonized the river system of several regions. It is a threat for the European mink, not only because they use the same habitat, but also because of the confusion between the two species by trappers and the risk of disease transmission.

American mink

American mink (© Marie Liabeuf / LPO)


The Western European population is characterized by a very high genetic homogeneity resulting in a higher exposure to diseases. Aleutian disease, present in the different Mustelid species and probably spread by the American mink, has a limited impact on the European mink population. Canine distemper, on the contrary, may be at the origin of its decline. This fatal disease affects an important number of carnivorous populations and thus is a threat for the species.

Other threats

The confusion between the American mink and the European mink during pest control trapping sessions may have contributed to the decline of the latter in recent years.
Secondary poisoning due to the use of anticoagulants also exists, but the regulations have evolved to reduce the impact on the species.

How is it protected?

The European mink is one of the most threatened species in Europe and in France. It is classified as « critically endangered » according to the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of threatened species.

The protection of this species is regulated at three levels:

The European mink is listed among the species strictly protected on the Bern Convention (annex II).

The European mink is listed as a priority species of Community interest in Annex II of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC

The European mink is listed on the terrestrial mammal species protected throughout the French territory. This text presents the protection modalities in the article 2.

LIFE Vison

The European mink

It is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the Mustelidae family. It is classified as “critically endangered” according to IUCN’s Red List of threatened species.

Beneficiary coordinator

Associated beneficiary

Financial partners

With the financial support of


LIFE VISON Project Coordinator

Ingrid Marchand

Phone :

+33 5 46 82 12 45


LPO – Les Fonderies Royales
8-10 rue du Docteur Pujos
CS 90263 – 17305 Rochefort – France

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