Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 418–423

The decline of mink in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina: The role of contaminants

Authors

  • S. L. Osowski
    • The Institute of Wildlife and Environmental ToxicologyClemson University
  • L. W. Brewer
    • The Institute of Wildlife and Environmental ToxicologyClemson University
  • O. E. Baker
    • South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department
  • G. P. Cobb
    • The Institute of Wildlife and Environmental ToxicologyClemson University
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF00212510

Cite this article as:
Osowski, S.L., Brewer, L.W., Baker, O.E. et al. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1995) 29: 418. doi:10.1007/BF00212510

Abstract

Since the 1960s, mink (Mustela vison) populations in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have declined, especially in the coastal plain. A prior study suggested that the decline may stem from environmental contaminants. Based on water quality data from each state, we identified 17 substances potentially related to the decline: aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, DDD, DDE, DDT, PCBs, chlordane, alpha-BHC, toxaphene, dibenzofuran, copper, chromium, cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury. Mink livers were analyzed for PCB and organochlorine pesticides, and kidneys and femurs were analyzed for metals. Reference sample concentrations from piedmont, mountain, and foothill locations were compared to state coastal plain totals and counties. PCBs for Georgia, dieldrin for South Carolina, and endrin and aldrin for North Carolina were significantly higher than the piedmont reference group. Liver PCB concentrations were higher than those known to cause mink reproductive dysfunction. Mercury concentrations were significantly higher in coastal plain mink from all three states and were in the range of those known to cause impacts to reproduction, growth, and behavior to wild mink. It is unknown what concentrations of cyclodienes cause reduced reproduction or other physiological effects in mink, but the levels reported here probably indicate background concentrations that do not contribute to the decline.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1995