On an overcast morning at Dog Bay on Kodiak Island, a thin brown weasel darts along the intertidal. It's a mink. Mink are not native to Kodiak, and were introduced to the island around 2013. The introduction was not legal, and the animals are considered to be an invasive species on the island.
State wildlife biologist Nathan Svoboda said the Kodiak Fish and Game office is getting more reports of mink sightings as time goes on. Trappers on the island are also catching them in traps, and while the population isn't exploding, numbers are increasing every year. Svoboda said most of the sightings have been around the town of Kodiak.
Although mink are trapped in Alaska, they are not particularly valuable or sought after. Between 2014 and 2017, the average price paid to a trapper for a mink pelt was just about 10 dollars.
In the 1800s and early in the 20th century, many different species of plants, fish and animals were introduced to new areas of North America, with no thought to potential negative consequences. In many cases, invasive plants, fish and snails have profoundly affected their new aquatic ecosystems.
Once thriving sea bird colonies on a number of islands in Alaska were destroyed when foxes were introduced with the plan that, like mink, they would be harvested for their fur.