Between April and October, another form of hunting with hounds is carried out illegally: mink hunting. Carried out on foot along river banks, mink hunts are the remnants of otter hunts, which stopped after otters became a protected species.
There are 17 hunts and over 20 unregistered packs. They have between 12 & 16 hounds hunting - a mix of otterhounds, foxhounds and others. Besides hunting mink, that will kill anything they come across, and there's concern that they'll kill otters if they come across them.
With the establishment of beavers in the River Otter, there's a real fear that they'll be targeted, as the Culmstock Mink Hunt uses this river regularly.
Besides the wildlife killed by mink hunts, untold damage is done to the fragile flora & fauna along the riverbank. Because mink tends to run to ground, there's lots of digging out, so river banks and trees are disturbed.
Hunt members and supporters follow with the hounds carrying otter poles - 6-foot long staves with a blade on the end. Kills are marked with a notch on the pole.
These hunts attract young children, some of whom are dressed in hunt uniform.
Often difficult to find, since meets are kept secret, and numbers of those involved are a lot smaller than those involved in fox hunts.