Environment

Mink found at Natomas habitat preserve

The resident mink at the Natomas Basin Conservancy
The resident mink at the Natomas Basin Conservancy Natomas Basin Conservancy

Bit by bit, wildlife are discovering the wetland preserves that have been carved out of farm fields north of downtown Sacramento.

The latest evidence: a mink.

John Roberts, executive director of the Natomas Basin Conservancy, said one of the organization’s employees was walking in a preserve last week when the mink popped its head up from some rocks. “My guess is where there’s one, there’s more,” he said. He was so excited by the discovery of the photogenic ferret-like animal that he posted its picture on Facebook, saying “this little guy is just too cute not to share.”

Roberts would not share the exact location where the mink was found, citing concerns that someone would try to hunt it.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, mink are uncommon permanent residents of California, mostly in the northern part of the state. They are semi-aquatic and nocturnal carnivores that hunt small prey such as frogs, mice and crayfish.

Roberts said the mink is one of many species that have taken up residence on the 4,200 acres owned by the conservancy, which manages land set aside to compensate for habitat lost to development in the Natomas basin. Much of the land is flooded to create wetlands that approximate what once existed in Natomas, where seasonal flooding was the historical norm.

“It’s a matter of maturity,” Roberts said. “Some of these marsh complexes are a decade and a half old now, and they’re starting to get established.”

The conservancy has been able to keep its lands wet despite the drought by pumping groundwater from 11 wells drilled on its property since 1999.

Mary Lynne Vellinga: 916-321-1094, @MLVellinga

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