Mink, mustelid carnivores (genus Mustela), inhabit North America, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic, and Northern Europe and Asia. They den near rivers and lakes, combining weasel land habitats and otter water habitats, and make foulsmelling musk. Mink, like otters, hunt in water for crayfish, frogs, and minnows. On the land, like weasels, they hunt rodents and snakes. Mink musk has a nauseating smell. Mink are nocturnal animals that live in burrows and are solitary except when mating (February to March). Mink gestation, 1.5 months, usually yields around six offspring. Mink have short legs and slender, 2.5-foot bodies (including bushy, 6.0-inch tails). Males weigh two pounds, and females are half that weight. Bobcats, foxes, owls, and humans kill mink. Humans do this for their beautiful, soft, durable fur, highly valued for garments. The fur has two layers, an oily, water-repellant outer layer, and a thick, soft, warm inner layer. Wild mink are brown or blackish brown. Fur farms raise mink for genetically selected black, blue, silver gray, or white fur.
Several animal protection groups, such as the WorldWildlife Fund and Friends of Animals, have long feared that many animal species will soon be extinct and that making and wearing fur garments is cruel. Thanks to their actions, the U.S. Congress passed an Endangered Species Conservation Act (1973) and its convention (1977). Therein, the United States and eighty other nations designed ways to control and monitor the import and export of fur of imperiled species. Endangered species were defined as in danger of extinction, while threatened species are likely to be endangered soon. Among the covered animals are otters and badgers. Other mustelidsmaybe added soon. Under the act and convention, participant countries must stop fur movement in intercountry or interstate commerce unless they have proof that species involved are not threatened or endangered.
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