Hunt Sabs Turn Their Attention On The Summer Hunters

Sheffield Hunt Sabs at the Northern Counties Mink Hunt

With the fox and hare hunting season now coming to an end, hunt sabs are turning their attention to the summer bloodsport: mink & otter hunting.

Taking place on and around streams, rivers and fishing lakes, the season runs from approximately now until October.

Manchester Sabs use their drone to keep an eye on the Dove Valley Mink Hunt
Manchester Sabs use a drone to keep an eye on the Dove Valley Mink Hunt

Hunting occurs on foot, with a huntsman, a pack of hounds and terriermen equipped with terriers, spades and poles to dislodge a hunted animal that takes refuge up a tree, in a drain or river bank. There are also hunt supporters, often the usual fox and hare hunting fanatics, who will follow along to watch.

Three Counties Mink Hunt
Three Counties Mink Hunt

Mink hunting has its origins in otter hunting, a bloodsport which saw its height of popularity in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, made infamous by Henry Williamson’s 1927 novel, ‘Tarka the Otter.’

By the late 1970s, the otter population had suffered a huge crash due to pesticide use and helped along by hunting. In 1978, with a growing tide of public support for protection for the otter, the species was given protected status and hunting was effectively banned.

While some packs folded, others claimed that they would switch to hunting American mink, a non-native species that had become well established on Britain’s waterways since escaping from ramshackle fur farms in the 1930s and 40s.

Mink hunting saw its height of popularity in the 1980s, with nearly 20 packs operating on Britain’s waterways.

With mink hunting made illegal by the Hunting Act in 2004, packs now laughably claim to be hunting rats or even carrying out ‘riverside surveys.’ The reality is, they are hunting and killing wildlife, damaging fragile waterside habitats and disturbing wildlife while at it.

And with the otter population once again growing, some of these packs have reverted to hunting them once again. In 2019, hunt sabs filmed the Culmstock Hunt in Devon chasing an otter.

Fast forward to 2023 and the number of these packs has dwindled to around a dozen. And despite their secretive nature, sabs have had great success against these hunts in recent years, which in turn has driven them even further underground!

Sheffield Hunt Sabs at the Northern Counties Mink Hunt
Sheffield Hunt Sabs with the Northern Counties Mink Hunt

And that’s why we need you, our eyes and ears in the countryside, to help us locate them this summer.

If you have information on a mink/otter hunt, or see a pack when you’re out and about, then let hunt sabs know.

Call the confidential Hunt Sab tip-off line on 07443148426

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