Sunday, August 16, 1998 Published at 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
More mink freed
Mink have turned up in people's houses
Hundreds more mink have been released in a second raid on a fur farm near the New Forest.
A member of staff arrived in the morning to find that cages had been damaged and wire fencing cut.
Up to 6,000 of the voracious predators were freed from Crow Hill fur farm near Ringwood last week.
The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for that raid. But a spokesman said the organisation was not responsible for the latest raid.
He added that "it is always better for animals to live free rather than in confinement."
He said the mink posed no risk to the environment.
The RSPCA said it was "appalled" at the release of more mink into the area.
A spokeswoman said: "It is just adding to the problem caused by the original release. The more mink there are in the wild the greater the risk to native wildlife and the environment.
On Thursday a squad of 14 armed and camouflaged trappers was dispatched by the Ministry of Agriculture to help catch the mink.
New Forest District Council has set up a mink hotline which has had reports of mink turning up in houses and of pet rabbits and chickens being killed.
A spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance criticised authorities for bowing to "political correctness" and not using hounds to catch the mink.
"Hounds are very, very efficient at tracking the mink and flushing them out," said Alison Hawes.
"But the authorities might object. They are concerned about doing the right thing and do not want to open themselves up for criticism."
An Environment Agency spokesman said the hounds were discounted on environmental grounds alone, and not political concerns.
Ray Kemp said: "The New Forest is a highly sensitive environmental site and we have to be extremely careful in anything we do.
"We don't feel mink hunting would be appropriate there, particularly because there is a vulnerable population of otters which would be affected."
The hunt for the mink has been going on across 80 square miles of the Hampshire countryside.
Conservationists have warned that the mink will wreak havoc on wildlife in the area.
The New Forest is on an international list of the world's 900 most important wildlife areas and was named as an environmental haven after the Rio Earth Summit.