In a desperate effort to limit the damage that has engulfed hunting, its regulatory body – the British Hound Sports Association (AKA the Hunting Office) – has issued an edict that terriers should not routinely be taken on hunts.
Their recent Campaign for Hunting document states that, “Terrier work must only be undertaken if specifically asked for by the farmer or landowner.”
This is an attempt to repair the terrible damage done by ex-Hunting Office Director Mark Hankinson who, in the leaked webinars, tellingly described the presence of terriers on hunts as the “soft underbelly” that exposes the lie of trail hunting.
Mink hunting – the illegal summer bloodsport now well underway across the country – is completely reliant on the presence of ‘working terriers’.
This is because mink are small, extremely agile animals – usually weighing no more than a couple pounds – who can get into the smallest of holes. As they cannot run or swim very far, they evade the hounds by going to ground as soon as they can. And there are, of course, no shortage of burrows, field drains, tree roots, and other such refuges on the riverbank where they live.
Once a hunted mink has found sanctuary underground, the huntsman will send for the terriers. These brutalised little dogs are sent in to bolt the mink so it can be hunted by the hounds again. Mink will also climb trees to escape the hounds and it is common on mink hunts to see terriers being lifted into pollarded trees – a favoured refuge – to dislodge their quarry. This stop-start pattern of hunting, bolting, and hunting makes mink hunting one of the cruellest of all bloodsports.
It is therefore no exaggeration to say that mink hunting cannot proceed without the presence of terriers. What, then, to make of the BHSA terrier edict?
An HSA spokesperson commented,
“In instructing hunts to no longer use terriers, the BHSA is effectively signalling the end of mink hunting – you just can’t hunt mink without terriers as part of the set up. It seems the posh leadership of the BHSA have not considered the impact of their terrier edict on mink hunting, the most working class of all bloodsports.
Having said that, the BHSA have little real authority over the hunts they claim to regulate, and only this week we have seen the Three Counties Mink Hunt ignoring their own governing body by having their usual seedy gang of terriermen in tow. Whatever they’re up to, hunt sabs will be out in force this summer protecting mink and otters on the riverbanks.”
Please contact the HSA tip-off line if you have any information on mink hunts: 07443 148 426.