Mink are medium-sized river-dwelling animals, similar to otters and ferrets, and the ones found in the UK are native of North America. They are non-native to the UK but were introduced here in the 1920s by fur farmers, before either escaping or being released into the wild to form colonies. Mink spend up to 80% of their time in their dens, sleeping, grooming and eating food they have carried home.

Hunts began to target mink after their initial quarry, otters, were depleted in numbers and it become illegal to hunt them since 1978. Unlike otters, mink have small territories (less than a mile of river bank) so once they have been spotted by the hunt they tend not to go far. Mink hunting is banned in England and Wales by the Hunting Act 2004 as it bans the hunting of wild mammals with dogs (regardless if they are native or not), but we believe it still continues.


What is mink hunting?

During a mink hunt, the hounds are followed on foot as they walk or swim along riverbanks while the mink frantically attempt to escape. The huntsmen controlling the hounds often carry a long stick. There is an official hunt uniform consisting of jacket, breeches tucked into long socks and boots, plimsolls or hockey boots as footwear.

Once scented, the mink is chased before being caught or escaping underground or up a tree. If caught, the mink is pulled apart by the pack. Mink below ground are dug out and killed or bolted by a terrier so it can be hunted again by the hounds. Once in full swing the hunt goes up and down the river in a small area chasing the mink from one refuge to another which can last up to two hours.

In addition to the cruelty to the mink, hunting on the riverbanks can cause disturbance to other river dwelling species including otters.

In 1980, the mink hunting packs were recognised by the British Field Sports Society, and then they formed their own association. Mink packs which were formerly otter hunts tend to have more otter hounds, and normally hunt at their traditional meets.

Contrary to most other types of organised hunting that take place in winter, the mink hunting season usually runs from April to early October, and takes place along rivers and streams where the mink live.

There are 17 registered mink hunts in England and over 20 unregistered packs. They each keep between 12 and 16 hounds. Although the main type of hound used is the otterhound (which is a shaggy looking breed about the size of German Shepherd dogs), a pack of mink hounds could be drawn from other types of hounds.

A mink on the grass looking at the camera


Mink trapping

Some believe that mink, as a non-native species, are detrimental to river ecosystems in this country, and are a ‘pest’, although it could be argued that in fact mink are just replacing other native predators such as otters which have now disappeared in many regions, partly because of hunting. The UK government offers advice on how to trap mink.

Regardless of whether mink is an invasive species or has already been naturalised enough in the UK ecosystems to be considered part of them, the League believes that mink should not be hunted for sport, and if the species needs controlling then hunting with dogs should never be used, as we believe this is an inhumane method of wildlife management.

The League believes that mink should not be hunted for sport.


How can I help stop mink hunting?

  • Contact your MP and ask them to urge their party to keep and strengthen the hunting ban
  • Join one of our supporter groups to help us raise awareness that mink hunting still takes place
  • Share this page on your social media


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