HSA news release 20th May 2006

A 'mink hunt’ made up largely of foxhounds has recently moved into the Leconfield Estate hunt kennels at London Road, Petworth, West Sussex where they rent accommodation.

Describing themselves as the ‘Wealden Mink Hounds’ they set off on Saturday, 20th May to hunt on the River Rother and its surrounding streams between Coates and Coultershaw Bridge south of Petworth. Most of the hunting took place in the streams because the hunt claimed the river was too deep.

One huntsman informed a local person that if they ‘heard a disturbance it was the mink hunt.’ When the response was: ‘I thought that’s illegal now,’ the reply was: ‘Well, lets not get into that now.’

Police were called, and when the hunt were questioned by an officer, he was told : ‘We are hunting rats.’ Needless to say the hunt became rather inhibited when the police were there.

As anyone knows, there are no rats that it is appropriate for foxhounds to hunt in the rivers and streams of Sussex. The only rats are water rats, which are actually water voles, and they are protected. Otters have been seen at Pulborough, but will never make it up the Rother, while dogs are causing a disturbance by illegally hunting mink in the river.

Mink hunting using dogs was made illegal with the Hunting Act 2004, and the landowner who knowingly allows mink hunting with dogs also commits an offence.

It is believed some of the land hunted over was Leconfield Estate land, and local people have written to Lord Egremont for an explanation.

The public is urged to inform the police if they suspect illegal hunting is taking place on rivers and streams near them, and to video what is happening if possible.