Friday, August 21, 1998 Published at 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
'Fearless' mink attack fisherman
Mink are efficient predators with a vicious bite
A terrified angler beat off a pack of ravenous mink with his landing net after they attacked him while he was fishing on a river bank.
John Stone said at least four mink leapt out of bushes at the River Avon near Ringwood in Hampshire.
It is the first confirmed attack on a human by the hungry predators since about 6,000 of them were released by animal activists from a New Forest fur farm.
'I was screaming'
"It was beginning to get dark and suddenly I heard this high pitched squeaking sound, almost like a screech. It was horrible," said Mr Stone.
"Suddenly these dark shapes sprang out of the bushes nearby and jumped on me. They were all over me. There were at least four of them, if not more.
"They were running over my legs, my feet and trying to climb on my seat. It was terrifying - I was screaming.
Mr Stone said he picked up his landing net and tried unsuccessfully to beat them off.
"They were fearless. I battled with them for about a minute and then they backed off. I immediately packed up most of my stuff and ran."
Mr Stone, 37, of New Milton in Hampshire, said the mink were attracted by his favourite bait - tinned dog food.
He vowed never to fish at night again as did fellow angler Nick Redman who witnessed the attack on Tuesday night on a privately-owned stretch of the river and went to Mr Stone's aid.
"All of a sudden I heard this loud screeching and suddenly John shot out of his chair and started waving his net around.
"These mink had run out of the bushes and were all over him. You've never seen someone get out of his chair so fast.
"They must have been starving. I'm just glad they didn't bite me."
About 6,000 mink were released from a fur farm near Ringwood in two attacks by animal rights extremists over the last fortnight.
Thousands have been recaptured and many have been shot by local landowners although up to 1,500 are thought to be still at large.