Linzey, Donald W. Wytheville Community College, Wytheville, Virginia.
Last reviewed:June 2016
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A semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal in the family Mustelidae. Minks belong to the family Mustelidae in the order Carnivora. There are two extant species. The American mink (Neovison vison; alternatively, Mustela vison) is found in Alaska and Canada and throughout most of the United States. In the western United States, its range extends southward to northern New Mexico, northern Nevada, and central California. This mink species was introduced deliberately into the former Soviet Union, and escaped animals have established populations in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Iceland. The other species is the European (Russian) mink (Mustela lutreola). It resembles the American mink, although it is slightly smaller in size. This species is located in Eastern Europe (predominantly Romania, Ukraine, and Russia), with small populations in northern Spain and western France. However, because of severe habitat degradation and a concomitant reduction in numbers, it is considered to be one of the most critically endangered mammals in Europe. See also: Carnivora; Endangered species; Mammalia
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