Letter: Free the mink

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The Independent Culture
Sir: During the past six weeks mink have been released in large numbers from two mink farms, one in Hampshire and one in Staffordshire ("The mink are back... and this time they're angry", 18 September). Such acts are illegal and the perpetrators should be dealt with appropriately, but before condemning these events we should question the motives of those responsible.

All animals that are farmed for their fur are necessarily kept captive; typical mink cages measure 1ft across by 2ft deep. Mink that have been in such cages for more than a few days show profound signs of distress. Some injure themselves.

The conditions in which mink are farmed are barbarically unnatural. The North American mink is semi-aquatic, which means it requires access to running water. Their ideal habitat is similar to that of the otter.

Mink are repeatedly reported to be the cause of the reduction in water vole numbers in the UK. But the water vole is now an endangered species for many reasons, and escaped (and wild) mink are not the main one. Water vole numbers are dangerously low primarily owing to loss of habitat, followed by pollution of their environment.

The man running the North Staffordshire mink farm said that it was cruel to release the mink, an act of terrorism.

Is it more cruel for a captive mink to be released and then die, or is it a greater act of cruelty to retain the animal in captivity until it is gassed and skinned?