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Invasive species and conservation: Short Communications

A new invasive species in the Canary Islands: a naturalized population of ferrets Mustela furo in La Palma Biosphere Reserve

Félix M. Medinaa1 c1 and Aurelio Martína2

a1 Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Cabildo Insular de La Palma, Avenida Los Indianos, 20, 2º piso, 38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

a2 Department of Animal Biology (Zoology), University of La Laguna, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.

Abstract

We present data to confirm that the island of La Palma harbours the first established feral population of ferrets Mustela furo on the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It is not known when the species was introduced but individuals occasionally lost during hunting appear to have become established sometime in the previous 2 decades. Sightings of ferrets are mainly in the north of the island but they are likely to expand their range southwards, and a few have already been detected in the centre of the island. We report a total of 45 cases of wild ferrets in 28 different localities during 1998–2007. To minimize effects on native species, control measures or eradication are required. Public awareness of the problem and education campaigns, especially among hunters, are needed to reduce the threat of this alien species to the biota of the Canary Islands.

(Received September 25 2008)

(Reviewed December 19 2008)

(Accepted January 28 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Cabildo Insular de La Palma, Avenida Los Indianos, 20, 2º piso, 38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. E-mail felix.medina@cablapalma.es

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