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(Updated 28/02/01)

MPs given free vote on mink hunting


MINK HUNTING with dogs would remain legal under an Amendment proposed by Home Secretary Jack Straw to the Government’s controversial Hunting Bill.

The Home Secretary put forward the amendment after complaints from Lin Golding, a Labour MP on the Select Committee considering the finer points of the Bill.

Ms Golding made the point that the banning of mink hounds would encourage mink to reproduce and kill many indigenous species.

Mink originated in North America and were brought to the UK in the 1920s for breeding in fur farms at the height of the fur craze. When fur farming became unacceptable to animal lovers in the 1970s, several mink were released into the wild by misguided animal rights activists. The mink were not part of the natural food chain and, having no predators themselves, swiftly set about decimating wildlife in the ears they were released. The British Water Vole population has declined sharply due to heavy predation by mink.

Since that time, twenty mink hound packs have been created and regularly hunt and kill many mink, this controlling the rapacious mink population, killing an estimated 400 to 1,400 mink per year in England and Wales.

The Government’s anti-hunting bill proposes banning the hunting with hounds of foxes, hares and deer. The new amendment raises the possibility that some of the existing fox hunts could switch to pursuing mink, although the numbers who could change over to this pursuit would be minimal.