BROWNVILLE, Maine — There was no slinking away. It was caught red-handed inside the tank with the evidence in its mouth.
John Belvin of The Junction Store in Brownville had been working at his office desk on Saturday when he heard a ruckus in the store’s bait room. As he entered the room, Belvin noticed that the siphon hose to the fish tank had been knocked out and the floor was wet.
Peering inside the tank, Belvin did a double take. Sitting in a small pool of water was a sopping-wet mink enjoying a smorgasbord of live bait.
“He was in fish heaven,” Belvin recalled Tuesday. Upon further investigation, Belvin said, he found that the mink also had planned ahead.
“We have like a filter on top of the fish tank, and he had climbed in, killed some fish and had stockpiled them on top of the filter,” Belvin said. “He was stockpiling them like cordwood.”
Belvin said he grabbed his camera and took some photographs, then grabbed his coat, put on some leather gloves, pushed the filter out of the way and moved his hands slowly up to the mink still inside the tank.
“He [the mink] turns around and hisses a couple of times, and then he turns his head back around, and I grabbed him like a snake around his neck and pulled him up,” Belvin recalled. He said he placed the mink in a plastic container with a cover, put it in the back of his truck and hauled it a mile away to the river.
When John and his brother Don Belvin opened their store Sunday, they noticed that the dead fish discarded in the trash Saturday were stockpiled by the door.
“We knew either the same one had come back or it was another one,” John Belvin said. The brothers set a live trap and caught the mink Monday, but not before it had eaten its fill of fish, he noted. Belvin said he then made another trip to the river.
“We were nice to them the first time, but if they come back, that was a $100 [feast]. We’re not so sure we’ll be as nice the second time,” Don Belvin said.