JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency last week granted the state Department of Environmental Conservation permission access two IDA parcels as part of a study on mink populations.
IDA Executive Director James Mraz briefed his agency last week at the Fort Johnstown Annex on the request by DEC. He said the IDA received a written request Sept. 28 to allow DEC access to its land. He said the two IDA-owned parcels are west of Route 30A and north of Opportunity Drive in Johnstown.
Mraz said Hudson River Natural Resources Trustees is conducting the mink study. He said an IDA representative doesn't need to be present when the researchers visit.
He said mink - small mammals related to weasels - rely heavily on streams as food sources and travel corridors. These IDA properties were selected because they are near a stream that is a tributary to the Mohawk River and may provide good habitat for mink, Mraz said. Even if evidence of mink is found on either property, there will be no changes to current land-use practices, he said.
Mraz said excrement collection for the pilot phase of the project was completed at a handful of survey sites along the Mohawk and Hudson River watershed this summer. A second year of expanded scat collection is planned to begin in May and will be completed by mid-July.
Researchers will undertake several tasks, depending on the stage of the study, he said. Initially, researchers will gather basic information about the habitat to better determine its likely suitability for mink, Mraz said. This information would include measurements of stream width, shoreline cover and bank slope. A "dog team" will search the area for mink excrement.
Mraz said researchers and dogs will focus their search along the stream on the IDA property, but the scat-detection dog and handler may also search along the banks and floodplain of the stream. Devices designed to snag samples of the animals' fur will be placed under bridges or near culverts.