Most people celebrate our efforts to save mink and otters from the cruelty of illegal hunting. However, we occasionally receive ill-informed comments about how animal rights activists were responsible for introducing American mink to the UK.
Last week – after four mink hunts were sabotaged in a single weekend – an unusually articulate hunter replied on the HSA Facebook page that,
“You lot of c*nts are f*cking hippocrits. It was you ignorant f*cking f*cks who released all the b*stard mink anyway.”
This is not true. The American mink is established on UK waterways solely because of the cruel and destructive fur trade. In the late 1920s, many thousands of mink were imported from America to be reared in squalid, poorly-run fur farms. According to the pro-otter hunting book ‘A Chain of Bubbles’ mink were escaping from these hellholes and living wild as early as 1931. As well as thousands of escapees, lazy fur farmers frequently released mink into the wild when they could no longer turn a profit.
The scale of the industry was horrifying. At its height there were at least 400 mink farms with the largest – Hawkyard Mink Farm, West Yorkshire – imprisoning over 18,000 animals. In addition, there were many non-licensed backstreet outfits. Yorkshire hunt sabs even found one of these operating on a housing estate in Bradford – and got it shut down!
The conditions on all UK fur farms were unimaginably cruel. Mink were housed for their entire lives in tiny, barren, wire-floored cages which led to physical injury, extreme zoochosis, and even cannibalism. They were usually killed by being gassed with carbon monoxide from a vehicle exhaust – so as not to damage the fur.
Given these wretched conditions, is it any wonder that Animal Liberation Front activists risked their own freedom to free mink from fur farms in the 1980s and 90s? Their action – taken decades after mink were already well established in the wild – contributed to the final demise of the fur industry in 2000.
Hunt sabs everywhere are working hard to make sure that mink hunting goes the same way!
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