In a recent edition of the hunt sab magazine HOWL, we outlined a brief history of the Eastern Counties Mink/Otter hounds (ECMH), and efforts to sabotage them. If that could have been summarised as ‘the rise and fall of the ECMH’ then we’d probably need to entitle this one ‘The fall and fall of the ECMH’.
Like most mink packs, the ECMH are a reincarnation of a former otter hunt. The Eastern Counties Otterhounds formed in 1910 and covered East Anglia, as well as parts of Hertfordshire. In 1977 otter numbers were declining, so they switched to hunting mink and, occasionally, coypu. As of 1997 they officially became the ECMH and today hunt a much-reduced version of their traditional territory, mostly focusing on rivers in Essex and Suffolk.
Mink hunts are notoriously difficult to track down. Nonetheless, the ECMH have been hit with increasing frequency since their formation. Several large hits on them in 1999 and 2004 led to police helicopters being involved and arrests being made. They were sabbed again in 2014 in Cavendish, at which point their followers still numbered into double figures.
No longer, however. We have had considerable success in tracking the hunt down since 2019, thanks to a lot of hard work from a small number of sabs, and some useful information sent in by members of the public. One thing these visits have revealed is a serious dwindling of numbers, with an average of around five hunters on foot (including the huntsman), but sometimes numbering just two or three! This all might have changed on 31st July 2021 had it not been for sabs. After the huntsman was followed to a meet in Ford End, Essex, the hunt were spotted meeting up with members (including the huntsman) of the Essex Foxhounds, who had just finished hound exercise. Obviously planning to go on a joint meet of sorts, huntsman Paul Smith was seen ringing around cancelling the meet because sabs had been spotted in the field. Poor old Paul then had to drive the 1.5 hours back to the kennels. Very embarrassing!
On other occasions when the hunt have made it out of their vehicles, it’s been a case of tracking them down the river and escorting them back to the meet. In June a single vehicle of sabs faced a real ‘needle in a haystack’ situation, with vague information that the hunt would be somewhere near Semer, on the Essex/Suffolk border. Driving around a large area we eventually tracked them down; ‘them’ in this case being a total of three hunters! This went to show once again that information passed to us from the public is vital in tracking down and stopping hunts.
If organised hunting in Britain is a dying ‘sport’, then mink hunting is a walking corpse at this point. This wouldn’t have happened without increasing pressure from sabs. Using the ECMH as a case study, we know that as the older generation die off even the most committed hunters just can’t be bothered to drive to a river, see a bunch of sabs in black, and then drive home again frustrated. We could draw you a graph plotting ECMH attendance over time…but picture a mountainside and you’re pretty much there.
Please see below if you have any info on the Eastern Counties Mink Hounds or would like to support Norwich and/or Suffolk & Essex Hunt Sabs…
Norwich Hunt Sabs contact : [email protected]
Norwich Hunt Sabs donation: https://ko-fi.com/norwichhuntsabs (check out their latest auction too!).
Suffolk & Essex Hunt Sabs contact: 07563 646280
Suffolk & Essex Hunt Sabs donation: https://ko-fi.com/suffolkandessexhuntsabs