AN unwelcome visitor has been seen roaming Harpenden and is very keen on fish for dinner.

A mink was found on Sunday, September 28, by Mr John Ewington in the back garden of his home in Coleswood Road. The 70-year-old believes the pest is responsible for killing five fish in his garden pond.

He said: "My dog was sniffing at the door of the coal shed. When I opened it, sitting in the corner was this jet black mink, about the size of a ferret. I knew it was a mink because I have seen one before."

He closed the door and went to fetch his camera but by the time he returned, the mink had escaped through a small gap at the top of the shed.

Earlier in the day Mr Ewington noticed five dead fish at the bottom of his pond and thought a cat had got them. But now he is almost certain the mink was to blame.

The mink is a carnivorous mammal belonging to the weasel family. They tend to live in riverbanks and kill birds, fish and small mammals.

Mr Ewington, a retired inspector at Vauxhall Motors, is now worried the animal will return for the last two fish in his pond. He also keeps a pet barn owl in an aviary and has had to put up extra protection around it.

The pest control department at St Albans District Council has told Mr Ewington he will have to employ a private company to deal with the mink, something he says he is reluctant to do because of the cost. He now plans to buy a squirrel trap in an attempt to catch the animal.

He said:"They are vicious little creatures which can burrow under anything and will even attack dogs. It has come as bit of a shock because I had become quite attached to those fish. I just want to get rid of the mink before it comes back to get the other fish."

Mr Peter Fox, secretary of the Ver Valley Society, says there have been several sightings of mink in and round Redbournbury Mill. He said the animal is hitting local wildlife because otters are their only natural predator. He added: "Their population has spread over a long time after raids on mink farms by animal activists who set them free."