Hunting was banned in Scotland in 2002 and England and Wales in 2004. However, these bans have not been properly enforced, the attempts to eliminate or weaken them continue, and hunting is still legal in Northern Ireland.

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Mink hunting

Mink are long-bodied and carnivorous river-dwelling animals, similar to otters and ferrets. Those found in the UK are not the European mink but the non-native North American mink. These were introduced to Britain in the 1920s by fur farmers, before either escaping or being released into the wild to form colonies.

Otter hunts began to target mink after their initial quarry – otters – suffered significant population declines and it became illegal to hunt them in 1978. 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 continues.

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What is mink hunting?

During a mink hunt, the hounds are followed on foot as they walk or swim along riverbanks in search of mink. Unlike otters, mink have small territories estimated to be less than a mile of river bank and, as such, will not run long distances to escape from hounds.

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 will be dug out and either killed by a terrier or released so that it can be hunted again by the hounds. The hunt will continue to chase the mink from one refuge to another which can last up to two hours.

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 the rivers and streams where the mink live.

There are approximately 17 registered mink hunts in England as well as many unregistered packs, which each keep between 12 and 16 hounds. Hounds used for mink hunting may be otterhounds or retired foxhounds amongst other types.

A mink on the grass looking at the camera

Mink trapping

The government regards North American mink as an invasive species and therefore the trapping and shooting of mink as a form of pest control is permitted by law.

The League believes that the hunting of mink with dogs cannot be justified as a form of pest control. If a species needs controlling then the hunting with dogs should never be used, as we believe this is an inhumane method of wildlife management.

How can I help stop mink hunting?

Join the League in our endeavours to protect mink. By joining our supporter groups, writing to your MP, or sharing this on your social media to express your concerns, together we can lead the way to a future without animals being persecuted in the name of ‘sport’.


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