First report on the distribution of the American mink Neovison vison (Mammalia: Mustelidae) in central Italy.
Identifying and mapping new sites of establishment of alien species is a research priority as it helps to provide timely management actions. In Italy, feral populations of the American mink Neovison vison, a semi-aquatic mustelid native to North America, have been present since the 1980 s in the north of the country and on the island of Sardinia. Recently, mink sightings were reported also in central Italy, in the Lazio region. However, no information existed on the consistency and distribution of this population. The aims of this study were to (1) assess the presence and distribution of the American mink in the Lazio region, (2) identify the possible sources of individuals and (3) provide a evaluation of the efficacy of the different techniques adopted. Data on the distribution of the American mink were obtained during 2008 by gathering bibliographical data, by interviewing the stakeholders, and by carrying out field surveys using camera traps, hair tubes, floating rafts and surveying for signs of presence. Floating rafts proved to be the most successful field method amongst the ones adopted in this study. We recorded the American mink at several sites within the Aniene River catchment and its presence seemed restricted only to this catchment within the Lazio region. We found 12 mink farms in the Lazio region, one of which is still active; occasional escapes or liberations have taken place in 11 of these farms. Given the presence of mink farms and the restricted distribution of the feral mink population in the Lazio region, there are at least two management actions that should be undertaken rapidly: (1) minimising escapes from the remaining mink farm through actions with the farmer and the regional authorities; (2) implementing an eradication program for the Aniene population.