Guest blog – Fox hunting crimes by Ian Carter

Traditional pack of hounds and riders on Dartmoor 2014. There is no suggestion intended that the individuals who appear in this image were, are, or ever have been engaged in illegal activities.

Moving to Devon 18 months ago has been a real eye-opener in relation to wildlife crime. There is plenty of industrial-scale Pheasant shooting but Buzzards exist at high densities and even Goshawks seem to be doing well, with several breeding sites within a few minutes’ drive of the house. Raptor persecution no doubt occurs on occasion but if it does it’s out of sight and not at a level that prevents these species from breeding. And there is no Hare coursing locally, something I became all too familiar with when living in the Cambridgeshire fens.

The wildlife crime that stands out above everything else in mid-Devon is hunting with hounds. If you spend any time out and about in the local countryside in winter you’ll see hunts regularly. I bump into them about once every week or two on average. Having not come across many hunts before and having not been especially engaged with this issue in the past I initially assumed they must be trail hunting, at least most of the time.

Then, just by chance, I saw a Fox flushed from a hedgerow by a single hunt rider who called in a pack of about 10 hounds and rode with them in hot pursuit of the Fox. This in full view of a road and several houses. Genuinely surprised by the brazenness, if not so much by the activity itself, I did some digging around online, started speaking to local people, and paid a bit more attention to hunts whenever I passed them. Monitoring wouldn’t be the right word but if I come across a hunt and have time to spare I’ll pull over and watch for a while.

It’s now clear to me that this is criminal activity on a huge scale. I have seen Foxes chased several times and been all but certain of it on several more occasions. I have spoken to countless local people who have seen Foxes or Red Deer chased, including one lady who had a stag pass through her village garden, pursued several minutes later by the baying mob of stag hounds. I have repeatedly watched hunts operate in a way that is impossible to reconcile with following a trail but fits perfectly the concept of searching for and attempting to flush an animal.

This type of wildlife crime is very different from crimes that threaten wildlife populations. The only animals at risk are Foxes and Red Deer and both are thriving locally. In contrast to the illegal persecution of raptors in the uplands, the issue is about animal welfare rather than species conservation. Yet, having thought more about what is happening here, I think there is another important issue – one that relates to trust in our police and the way they operate.

My question to rural crime officers and senior police in Devon (and wherever else this is happening) is as follows. This is organised crime isn’t it? Not only that but it is carried out repeatedly, in broad daylight, and in a manner that almost seeks to draw attention to itself. There are vehicles and horse boxes all over the road, the senior hunt members wear a special uniform to advertise their role, and just in case your line of sight is obscured, horns are blown regularly, highlighting the focal point of the hunt, and audible for miles around.

If you remain unconvinced that crime is taking place and are (perhaps understandably) disbelieving of reports from anti-hunt groups then take a look for yourselves. Set aside the odd half day here and there next winter and turn up to watch a hunt – unannounced and not in uniform for obvious reasons. Have a look at what is happening. Do the horses and hounds look like they are following a pre-laid trail? If (when) you see an animal being chased does it look like an accident and is every effort being made to call off the dogs? Is there any plausible legal exemption that fits with what you are watching?

If hunts are allowed to continue operating as they do currently then what message does that send out about the way rural policing works? The almost complete lack of any enforcement activity can mean one of only three things:

(i) Incompetence. It could be that the police think most hunts are acting lawfully most of the time as per the careful wording on hunt websites. That would be naïve based on all the information that is available and, as suggested above, it could very easily be checked (and found to be wrong) with just a few hours work in the field or by talking to local people. I don’t think it’s down to naivety or incompetence.

(ii) Resources. Perhaps rural police are now so overstretched that there is simply no money and no officers available to address illegal hunting. If that’s true then what hope is there for any form of rural policing? Unlike most rural crime this is an activity that is undertaken regularly, in full view, with much fanfare, by individuals that can easily be identified. It is not contravening some ancient legislation that no-one is too worried about. It contravenes a recent law informed by extensive research and passed after rigorous debate in parliament, and the legislation enjoys overwhelming public support. If organised crime on this scale doesn’t justify the allocation of significant resources then what does?

(iii) Power and influence. Thirdly and, I fear, most likely, perhaps it’s a case of deliberately turning a blind eye to a crime that involves influential people. There certainly seems to be a contrast between the police response to hunting with hounds in Devon, and the response to hunting Hares with dogs in the eastern counties – where enforcement action is taken regularly and vigorously. Is the key factor here the relative lack of influence of the people who chase Hares with their long dogs?

I can’t help but reflect on these points every time I pass a hunt and, every time, it weakens my respect for rural policing (and policing in general) that this is allowed to happen. I imagine many other people (the largely silent majority) have a similar response. Hunts are apparently able to operate above and beyond the law with utter contempt for the legislation, those tasked with enforcing it and the majority of public opinion. In short, they are making a mockery of rural policing.


65 Replies to “Guest blog – Fox hunting crimes by Ian Carter”

  1. I’ve always suspected that hare coursing is pursed by the police rather than fox hunting, is due to the different classes of people involve in those crimes

    1. Hare coursing as practiced by lads in trackies from the estates is considered by the police a crime of property and trespass against the landowners. Whereas landowners dressed as leprechauns and hunting hares with beagle packs is treated as “nothing to see here, move along”.
      Try getting the police to tip out to a beagle or harrier pack hunting hares as compared to their response to a report of a bunch of lads hare coursing.
      Many police wildlife crime officers are shooters and members of the huntin’ shootin’ fraternity and view wildlife crimes as crimes of theft of property (eg Hare coursing and deer poaching) and turn a blind eye to others eg raptor persecution. A good example is the inept performance of the police wildlife officers in a north western raptor persecution hotspot which was more interested in deer poaching than anything related to raptor crimes.

  2. Hunts should be licenced. They should be required by law to demonstrate compliance (with the licence conditions, no killing foxes), at their expense, by employing independent observers to run along with their hunts to watch every move. The observers would be like auditors, who could then go to check any radio communications which would all need to be recorded, indeed any financial records etc and have freedom to check any properties of the hunt.
    As they say, “there is no smoke without fire,” if the hunts weren’t breaking the law, they would wilfully accommodate hunt monitors. As they are clearly not (wilfully accommodating to hunt monitors) then they (the hunts) should be forced to pay for hunt monitoring operations.

    1. Unfortunately that can’t happen with this. It was invented to use loopholes and evade the law.
      Drag hunting, I’m told, is less lijely to harm wild life but why risk it?

  3. My experience too, exactly. And I have reached the same conclusion; its because hunts are run/supported by “important people” with influence some of whom may even be in governance roles over the police service. A bit like politicians and bankers and we all know how well that ended.

    Interesting family conversations at Xmas. One was boasting about how his beagle pack hunted “rabbits” wink wink – and it was a very awkward moment when I challenged him. Apparently because I cannot say I have never speeded I have no right to complain about hunting, which illustrates well how the hunting fraternity views the laws regulating it – ie with naked contempt.

    Crimes are what other people do.

  4. Did you report what you saw to the police? If you want them to investigate, then they need to be informed. Only after we have reported these crimes do we have the right to criticise if isn’t followed up.

    1. Al – I tried 101 the first 2 occasions but couldn’t get through and gave up after about 15-20 mins of listening to an answer phone message. The third time I did get through and reported it, and interestingly was told to phone 999 in future – which is what I’ll do. I agree that reporting is important but to get any real enforcement action I think the police need to be more proactive. One person reporting something just ends up as one word against another. Then again if lots of people phoned in every time a hunt was acting illegally that would help raise the profile of the issue.

  5. Very eloquently put, thank you. Maybe you can interest some tv/press folk to quietly record this next winter?

  6. I like your objective view Ian and share it.
    The National Trust are as culpable as the police and the logical extension of what you conclude to the situation we have with policing and raptor persecution seems obvious, and on recent evidence is becoming more obvious by the day.

  7. I have never understood why “trail hunts” are allowed to use actual fox scents to lay a trail. It seems to me to be a recipe for disaster, because as soon as a real fox crosses the trail, the hounds have at least a chance of following that instead of the true, laid trail (and I’m sure the hunters know this and perhaps hope for it to happen!). Dogs can be trained to pick out and recognise almost any scent, so if new hounds were trained to follow, for example, the scent of vanilla extract (and maybe even existing hounds, though perhaps not the old ones!) then within a few years packs could cross the recent trail of a fox and ignore it entirely. Problem solved – but I doubt the will is there to take this approach!

    I agree that licensing of hunts could help too. Make each hunt bring a licensing agent out both as they lay the trail and as they follow it correctly without diversions or distractions from the scent of real foxes. I actually doubt that many hunts would manage to do this successfully.

  8. I’m proud to flout the hunting act and I do so with the full knowledge of the local police. As a landowner I also only allow hunts on my land on condition that they do not comply with the law. In my view people should be far more honest and open about not complying with it and the police about not enforcing it.

    1. Giles – fair enough but (especially as a landowner) you are on dangerous ground in picking and choosing the laws you are happy with and those you are not. We could all play the same game. The fact that you have the relationship you claim with the local police (and are happy to boast about it) is one of the reasons I wrote the piece – thank you.

    2. I do hope the Police are alerted to your stance. You are promoting an illegal activity.

    3. As I understand it, your basic premise is that the existing law should be changed because it requires flushed deer to be shot. Whereas you want to move deer out of your woodland (using dogs) but don’t want to shoot them afterwards. But in reality your starting position is wrong. If you don’t want deer in your woods, use deer proof fencing. You’d have no need to break the law then. You just don’t want to take reasonable steps that would allow you to comply with the law.

    4. So, Giles, if I decided that I disagreed with private property rights – just as Hunts routinely go where they have been explicitly refused permission to go – and so I went to your land, wandered at will, and cut the odd fence where it got in my way, that would be fine by you would it? Or is the law something that you believe should apply only to other people? You can’t have it both ways.

      Of course, my anarchist alter ego could choose instead to campaign to allow for a change in the law, permitting a universal right to roam everywhere including your garden. Wouldn’t stand a cats chance of success, of course, because the large majority of people wouldn’t support such a move. Just like most people oppose hunting. Oh, but of course they are other people, not people that matter like you. And don’t pull the “tyranny of the majority” argument. Hunting isn’t a human rights issue, especially as all the communal activity benefits can still be had from genuine trail hunting.

      A bit of googling suggests you’re an Exmoor farmer. Since you are admirably honest about your disdain for any irksome obligations to wider society, like obeying any laws you disagree with, can we assume that in return you haven’t accepted any public money subsidising your farming operations? No CAP payments of any kind? if you haven’t then, well, I must confess I have a bit of admiration for you after all. But if you have taken my money…

      Coming on this blog, writing to your MP, choosing who to vote for, marching down Whitehall, these are all entirely legitimate ways to campaign against a law you think is unjust.

      Non violent direct action has its place if you think it is extremely unjust, but such activists must expect to get arrested and pay a penalty. You however choose to ignore the law not because you’re willing to pay the price of your principles, but because you know you’ll get away with it. Isn’t that a bit cowardly? I’m sure you could engineer a test case if you really wanted to make a legal point, but you don’t, do you?

      Your behaviour looks more like sneering at us plebs than taking the moral high ground. Sorry.

      1. jbc -the law against you cutting my fences is a sensible law because it stops you doing harm – the law requiring me to kill deer is an absurd law because it requires me to do harm.

        I would no more kill a wild mammals to satisfy a dumb law than kill a human for the same reason.

        Why should I ‘expect to get arrested?’ that’s up to the police – and why on earth would the police arrest someone for refusing to exterminate wildlife for no good reason apart from a stupid law requiring it for reasons not properly thought through?

        All I do is wander though my woods with my dog and without a gun or armed people stranding by. I should have the right not to bear arms in this manner. Thank God the police can see that and don’t cow tow to imbeciles obsessed with making people kill wildlife!

    5. I suppose you don’t mind trespassers on your land, and if there was an illegal rave or encampment, you’d ignore it. Or would you be jumping up and down in fury and calling the police. I see you believe that laws are for other people and not you. This is the problem in a nutshell. It’s called arrogance.

      1. ” illegal rave” – I’d $%£@ing love it! Although as a landowner I’d demand the right to spin a few tunes.

      2. My view on illegality/legality is that if a legal activity causes huge suffering harm and death and an illegal one causes no suffering harm and death – the illegal one might well be preferable. In such a circumstance the fault would lie with the law not the activity.

    6. Your approach Giles will bring your Govt. down. You are talking corruption and Joe Public will not stand for that any longer. You and your type, the Hen Harrier killers, make me ashamed of my country. You are Sir, an embarrassment to us.

  9. Well I’ve looked into legal stag hunting as practiced around me and it’s horribly cruel. My methods are infinitely less cruel and for me they work. There is actually substantial evidence that the hunting action of dogs on deer can change ther behavior and consequently the ecological balance. There can be IMO too much emphasis on killing and not enough on alternatives. The law’s insistence that the deer must be killed post flush is ridiculous.

    As far as being ‘dangerous’ is concerned the use of guns can be far more dangerous than the use of just dogs. Not just for the deer but for the dogs, myself and the public.

  10. Yes Helen as I say the police are well aware of how absurd the law is and take no steps to make either me or my local stag hound pack comply with it. They aren’t stupid- they know a dumb law when they see it.

    1. We live in the same area so I guess we’re talking about the same stag hounds. Sounds like I’m wasting my time reporting future incidents to the local police. As I suspected the lack of enforcement is not about police incompetence or lack of resources but the abuse of influence – that’s rather worrying but it’s good to know how these things work.

      1. use not abuse of influence – I have no more or less influence than anybody else. Every one is free to flout the hunting act if they want to and if they make a good case for how it would be clearly absurd to try and apply the law to them that is as it should be.

        Why on earth should I have to kill the deer on my land in such ludicrous circumstances? There is simply no reason for it whatsoever.

        1. The courts should decide whether you have a ‘good case’ for breaking the law, not the Police. And certainly not you.

          1. well that really isn’t up to me is it – I can’t haul myself in front of a court. If you disagree with the Police and the CPS refusing to stop me not killing animals have it out with them? In the mean time the deer on my land will remain free and un harmed.

        2. Don’t be absurd – the use of influence to undermine the law (and if you do not have influence then those who hunt as a group certainly do) is an abuse. For almost any other group flouting the law would have consequences.

          1. I’m not a ‘group’ I am just an individual who feels I should be able to wander round my woods with my dog and not kill anything – I also feel I should be able to direct the hunt not to kill as well. What I am saying is perfectly reasonable.

        3. Giles – I’m arguing here about the deliberate hunting of animals with hounds so perhaps we are at slightly cross purposes. We have legislation in place to stop hunting with hounds. It followed years of debate and a decision in parliament. It is overwhelmingly popular. If you have the Police sufficiently onside that you have their tacit agreement that no legal action will be taken when hounds are deliberately used to hunt wild animals then that is a concern. I’ll resist the temptation to use a word like corruption but that’s how some people would see it. You are, of course, entitled to use your influence but the Police are not entitled (I would argue) to tacitly side with a vocal, influential minority in agreeing not to enforce a particular piece of legislation. If that is what is happening then they risk losing all public respect, which is the main point I was trying to make. I admire your honesty in describing the agreement you apparently have with your (and my) local Police but I find it alarming to say the least. Perhaps it would be worth clarifying exactly what they have agreed to turn a blind eye to?

          1. Ian – the hunt wants to comply with the law on my land – they would like to kill the deer – they respect my wishes that they don’t.

            Are you seriously suggesting the police should start prosecuting people for not killing wildlife? That’s nuts!

          2. “Perhaps it would be worth clarifying exactly”

            Try using the little box with the magnifying glass where it says “Search”

        4. Giles, I am (genuinely) a little confused now. You seem to be conflating two things; on the one had an open support of illegal hunting (for which I have to admire your honesty even if the lack of concern for the rule of law alarms me) as a general position, with a specific issue for you in your wood around walking or riding with dogs, flushing deer, and then not shooting them.

          How does the law distinguish between Mr/s A Staghunter flushing deer and Mr/s A Dogwalker (or indeed yourself)? If the legitimate objective is, as you hint, to create a “landscape of fear” to reduce deer damage would not any old dogwalker do? Why do you insist on using the stag hunt unless you’re trying cock a snoop at the rest of us?

          By the by, I have no ideas what influence you have with the local police. But the fact that the leaders of hunting, and stag hunting in particular, are prominent members of society, sometimes people in positions of considerable formal authority, does make their influence highly problematic.

          1. Generally I use my collie – but when the stag hunt are in the area I instruct them not to kill.

    2. If the law is ‘dumb’ then in, good measure, it is because a minority of powerful and influential people ensured that it would be so to undermine the public will in this matter. The police don’t or shouldn’t have the option to decide which laws to enforce any more than you have to decide which to obey. As pointed out by Jbc if you’re happy to accept public funding to help support the way in which you use your land – a matter about which you seem strangely quiet – then you’re morally obliged to obey the laws relating to hunting.

      1. No grants on the woodland – although there used to be and it was a woman from MAFF WGS that suggested I use the dogs ( back in 2004)

  11. This openly goes on all over the country. I have personally been fighting this for the last 6 years. Last month we gained our first prosecution (The FItzwilliam Hunt). It took over 2 years to get to court. We have another in the pipeline against the Thurlow Hunt.

    Firstly some facts.
    1. Trail hunting was invented to circumnavigate the hunting act.
    2. To import fox based products (urine) you need a license from the APHA. No licenses have been applied for or granted since the ban.
    3. Spreading an animal by product such urine over the countryside is (i’m told) illegal as well
    4. Most hunts don’t even bother laying a trail, they know they won’t get prosecuted.
    5. There are over 300 registered hunts in the country. The vast majority of these will be breaking the law.
    6. Many hunts signed a document claiming they will openly break the law – and yet this document seems to have vanished. Were is the courage behind their conviction?

    If you have any doubt watch this short video from the most recent season.

  12. The police’s inaction is emboldening the hunts to more criminal activity. They not only do they get away with wildlife crime in broad daylight, even witnessed by the police but they also get away with GBH to the person because the police do nothing.
    In Devon they are above the law.
    They have no respect for land owners wishes and total disregard for bio security.
    The police fail to join the dots between wildlife crime and rural crime as the hunts get the terrier men to do the thuggery.
    The Chief Constable believes he has the correct balance if hunters and those opposed to it both complain! Arrogant and naive.

  13. It’s not necessarily police incompetence, though lack of resources probably comes into it. I think it’s weariness brought on by the difficulty of getting a successful prosecution. The Hunting Act is so full of holes it might as well have been crocheted. And hounds have endless exemptions from normal dog control rules – no chips, no collars, no need for close control, generally not considered to ‘trespass’ unless accompanied by a person, can’t be shot for worrying livestock, and wildlife isn’t considered stock anyway, even when it is an asset of rural businesses. Twice this year alone I’ve had to chase the Eggesford Hunt out of Popehouse Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest (Torridge, Devon). Both times we made police complaints. Neither time did we get a police visit, just a phone call a few days later. No contact from the Widlife Crimes Officer, despite sending emails and letters. Lots of support on social media – our facebook post in January got over 70,000 views and BBC Spotlight picked up the story after . It ran on TV and on a Radio Devon phone in, and kicked up other similar stories. We have finally got Natural England to write a warning letter to the hunt, but it feels like pushing water up hill. The wildlife on Popehouse Moor and Wheatland Farm is our livelihood. The hunt want to chase and kill it, and there’s precious little help from the law.

  14. If spreading shit and pee over the countryside is illegal the farmer next door to me needs locking up.

  15. Maggie, it is the total lack of engagement by DCP that has allowed the Eggesford hunt to get totally out of control. They believe they are above the law. The police need to enforce the law as is, not just say it has holes. I have reported hunts around here several times, the 101 operators are so poorly trained their knowledge of hunting law is so poor.
    DCP are just interested in easy pickings like speeding.

      1. The height of the fence has nothing to do with it – you really don’t actually have a clue do you?

  16. Same old, same old.
    The majority of the public know that fox hunting was made illegal in 2004 and know that when TM the PM tried to reintroduce it for her mates, she had to back down. Therefore it doesn’t happen.
    As with all other persecution issues, publicity is what is required. And lots of it.

  17. It is way overdue that fox hunting is totally banned! As in no galloping around the countryside with packs of dogs. This is another barbaric pastime that needs consigning to the history books! How on earth we consider ourselves a civilised nation while we allow these atrocities to continue against our wildlife is beyond my comprehension.

  18. I think this interesting blog is highly relevant to the issue of raptor persecution. The fact that foxhunts routinely flout the law with little fear of sanction contributes to the culture that it’s OK to kill whatever you like in the countryside.
    I’d go further – there is a group of people who feel that every fox hunted and every predator shot, trapped or poisoned (legally or illegally) is striking a blow for ‘real countrymen’ against the encroachment of townies, scientists, experts, softies and do-gooders into their barbaric rural domain.

  19. You have the situation exactly right. Some police forces elsewhere in the country are slightly more keen to try to enforce the Hunting Act, but usually find themselves frustrated by the near impossibly high evidential barrier. ‘Trail hunting’ is a very cleverly contrived alibi to allow them to continue chasing and killing live quarry without significant risk of prosecution. Even the rare conviction doesn’t seem to deter them. The fines are, to the deep-pocketed hunting community, pretty piffling, the crimes are not recordable and so don’t result in a criminal record and, unlike with other animal welfare legislation there is no risk of prison. There are provisions in the Act for forfeiture of animals and/or equipment used in illegal hunting, but no organised Hunt have ever suffered this, though ‘poachers’ convicted under the Act have had their dogs confiscated and their cars crushed.
    Police and CPS, partly because obtaining convictions, are usually reluctant to tangle with the expensive lawyers the hunt side can afford but it also provides a ready-made excuse not to even try and, undoubtedly, many cases that could well have succeeded have been passed on or dropped by the CPS or even declined initially by police. Devon & Cornwall police are notorious in the hunting community for not just turning a blind eye to illegal hunting but also refusing to act on behalf of sabs and monitors assaulted by hunters or who have their property damaged or stolen by them.
    The only realistic way of bringing the lawless hunters to heel is to significantly strengthen the Hunting Act. See and Labour has now pledged to do that if they gain power.

    1. Spot on Alan. Why not ban trail hunting too as it doesn’t actually exist anyway so will be no great loss? Hunts don’t lay trails, they hunt live quarry and pretend they’ve laid a trail if they are observed. The CA claim trails are laid with fox urine imported from America. It’s illegal to spread fox urine in the countryside and an FOI to DEFRA showed that no licences were applied for by hunts to either import fox urine or spread it around laying trails in the three years DEFRA keeps information. Several hunts claimed they obtained fox urine for trail laying from a company called Adrian’s Fox Scent. A quick internet search will show anyone who bothers to look that AFS is a sham, the company has never traded.

    2. There’s a great article here about ‘The Landscape of fear’ at the end they talk about reducing deer populations by using the “sound of dogs” – I presume they mean recordings.

      While that may work I feel that the hunting action of real dogs on deer works much better. Who are we to consider that humans would be better than animals at this function? Why are guns (or fences) necessarily less cruel?

      I’m proud to still be using dogs to control deer -it’s humane, effective and fun – what’s not to like?

  20. Spot on – our local monitors have a force that is (unusually) working reasonably hard to try and do its job and enforce the Hunting Act, but cases then get rejected after lots of police work by the CPS, or get thrown out in court as the hunts bring in their expert lawyers to exploit the loopholes. You can see why some forces, even if they aren’t hand in glove with the Hunt which some appear to be, see it as an area to avoid prosecution or investigation if possible. What is worse some forces seem to also turn a blind eye to assaults against sabs and monitors, so Hunt servants feel able to resort to often extreme violence with impunity. The level of violence seems to be ramping up as Hunts feel the rising tide of public anger and disgust, and a serious incident seems only a matter of time.

  21. I am amazed at the sheer devotion to killing wildlife by many of the commenters on here and by the author.

    1. Giles – I have no problem with killing wildlife if it’s done humanely and for good reasons, and I occasionally do it myself.

      And having now read your blog from 2012 I genuinely sympathise with the issue you have regarding flushed deer you would rather not kill – at least I sympathise as far as I understand the issue and the way you represent it.

      But that’s not what I was writing about. I was writing about groups of criminals that operate openly in our countryside when they deliberately set out to hunt wild animals with packs of dogs, with a view to killing them. And, most importantly, the fact that while this tends to attract large groups of excited onlookers, it almost never attracts the attentions of the police.

      As you seem to be commendably honest about this issue how about not dodging the following straight questions. How would you feel about allowing a pack of stag hounds onto your land with a view to chasing a Red Deer until the deer is eventually caught and then shot? Does this sometimes happen on your land with your knowledge? Do you turn a blind eye to the fact that it might be happening? Or do you only give your permission on the basis that it must not happen?

      No side-tracking please with grey areas about flushing deer from the woods with show dogs. I’m genuinely interested.

      1. Ian as I have explained to you I am completely against the hunts complying with the Hunting Act like that on my land. I’d far rather they break it by allowing then flushed deer to escape unharmed rather than complying with it by taking reasonable steps to shoot the poor things – a process which from what I understand can take several hours.

        Maybe you don’t fully understand what is involved in killing a herd of flushed deer – it can be a pretty protracted and bloody process.

        The permission I give to the hunt specifically requires no compliance with the laws absurd exemptions.

        1. Yes, ‘poor things’ when they are shot. Though seemingly you have fewer welfare concerns when they are chased for miles, to the point of exhaustion, so they can literally go no further, and are then shot anyway. A ‘protracted and bloody process’ if ever there was one.

          1. That’s exactly what happens when they comply with your screwed up ass of a law.

            What I am saying is there is another way which involves NOT killing them.

            It’s blissfully simple – do you have a dog? You could try it yourself. It’s humane and great fun – and to be frank you have zero chance of being arrested – the police are in on it! (how cool is that?)

            It’s very hard (IMO) to see how NOT killing a herd of deer could possibly involve a protacted chase for miles at the end of which the deer are shot.

  22. I can understand Ian Carter’s surprise, but let me assure him that this flouting of the law by hunts has been going on well before the hunting with dogs act supposedly banned it. Well before the hunting ban hunts regularly illegally hunted on nature reserves where they were banned, trespassed, killed pets, parked all over the road, aggressively road their horses at people, were cruel to their horses and hounds. Do you know that routinely when hounds get too old, say about 7 years, that they take them round the back, shoot them, and feed them to the rest of the hounds. I could go on about them catching Foxes, and releasing them so they can hunt them. The Badger baiters i.e. terrier men who follow them, and their violent threats to anyone, including local trying to record their illegal activities.

    And no, it’s no accident that the police turn a blind eye to their crimes. It’s a type of deferential thing the police have long had to wealthy landowners. Where hunts are attended by monitors and hunt sabs, the police often attend and harass the monitors and sabs, but turn a blind eye to the illegal hunting. The other year after the ban, a local I know, wondered what was happening at a local farm. There were police guarding all of the entrances. They simply peered down the entrance from the public highway, and were told to move along by the police. It was simply the local hunt meeting as they like to do it in secret to avoid the sabs. When they simply said to the police officer they wondered what was going on, they were told to move along by the police officer as it was none of their business. The police act like a security force for the hunt.

    On 19th September 2017, the Independent published a feature on how hunts in the Lake District were tearing communities apart with their aggressive behaviour. I could go on. These hunts have always been a bunch of hooligans, and the way they lie about what they do is shocking. For instance I know one hunt tried to use an Eagle Owl as a contrivance to get around the ban. They released it and whilst it was on the ground, the hounds caught it and tore it to pieces. This came from someone who hunts, and not a sab.

    Please note, that I have never been a hunt sab, have never been a member of LACS. My interest is conservation. I never particularly like hunting but remained neutral on it. But these more experience I had with this arrogant, sadistic people, the more I despised them. The Countryside Alliance peddles the lie that it’s only “townies” against hunting. Yet reliable polls have found 75% of people in rural areas oppose the hunt.

    1. SteB – all I can say is that my experiences have been very similar to yours. Starting from a neutral or even slightly sympathetic position, and never having been a member of LACS let alone associating with the Sabs, it has been the sheer arrogance of the hunt towards me and my organisation that made me turn against them. In terms of my opinion, and public opinion generally, they are they own worst enemy.

      Although I don’t have the same direct personal experience of DGS, its clear to me that the two “sports” share a common attitude of contempt towards the law and towards anyone not actively on their side. For that reason alone its well past time they ended. We live in a democracy, and no one should be above the law. The hunts think they ARE above the law , and for now it seems they are right. But that state of influential immunity won’t last forever.

      If the hunts were serious about preserving the social and traditional aspects of hunting, but wanted to respect the law, then Trail hunting offered an opportunity to enjoy galloping around the countryside and meeting their friends and good luck to them. But they’ve chosen to abuse the compromise by using it as a cover for continued organised crime. They have blown any any sympathy or legitimacy they may once have had, just like DGS. Its high time they stopped acting like the rest of us are fools and that the laws of the land don’t apply to them.

  23. Thanks for sharing a well written blog.
    The current Law is so full of loopholes that it’s almost worthless, there’s hunts flushing foxes to Eagles, the poor Eagle is driven around the countryside by an idiot on a quad bike just in case anyone happens to be watching the hunt up to no good. the bird of prey exemption allows that they can excuse themselves by pretending to be falconers.
    The hunt followers are regularly witnessed blocking Badger setts and using terriers to extract any fox lucky enough to have found an unblocked sett. Hunting is a National embarrassment and the law needs to be strengthened to remove the loopholes but that is unlikely under the present Government.

  24. “it’s almost worthless”

    yesterday morning I was up early conducting my humane but allegedly illegal deer management using my dog – zero wild mammals harmed as per usual.

    yesterday afternoon there’s a legal hunt just across the valley – I am reliably informed they killed three

    yes the law is pretty much worthless.

  25. They are deliberately trained with fox scent, and ‘practising’ with young fox clubs (cubbing, where the cub can’t escape) completes their training. They have to be trained to HUNT & KILL foxes, which speaks for itself! The whole issue is scandalous, and if like me you have the hunt breaking the law with impunity on a very regular basis, right on my ‘doorstep’, it is incredibly distressing.

  26. They are deliberately trained with (illegal?) fox scent, and ‘practising’ with young fox clubs (cubbing, where the cub can’t escape) completes their training. They have to be TRAINED to HUNT & KILL foxes, which speaks for itself! The whole issue is scandalous, and if like me you have the hunt breaking the law with impunity on a very regular basis, right on my ‘doorstep’, it is incredibly distressing.

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