It’s amazing how fast some people can change their approach when dealing with others. Obviously when you’re in uniform and a public servant you need to assess any given situation and react accordingly so it’s never a good idea to go in all guns blazing and then have to back down with your tail between your legs when you get found out. This was the case last weekend when we were ordered to remove our face coverings in quite a forthright manner by a member of the Hertfordshire force. We explained our rights to this chap and at once he became all friendly and accommodating. Unless a section 60AA is in place (which needs to be organised in advance by a senior officer) the police have no justification in ordering you to remove your face covering. Thing is, the police will often try and push their luck, hoping you will be intimidated and comply with any request, regardless of legality. The same goes for giving your details, you really don’t have to do this unless there are a very specific set of circumstances. Some of our group were also told they weren’t allowed to use a public right of way and again this was totally unlawful and their orders were ignored.

Hounds rioting on a Roe Deer

Hounds rioting on a Roe Deer

I did however have a reasonably polite conversation with the local wildlife crime officer regarding the hunt we were attending. I showed him footage of the hounds trying to dig into a badger sett where a fox had gone to ground and he seemed sympathetic to our cause however sitting in a car won’t get you any evidence of illegal hunting when the hunts are well out of sight and looking for foxes. We stopped a potential dig out when we arrived on the scene just as the terrier men on quads were turning up and the hounds showing lots of interest in a particular sett entrance. The huntsman at once called the hounds away knowing his plans were well and truly scuppered. Apart from stopping one vehicle the police paid us little heed from then on in and left us to our work. Our biggest concern of the day was when the huntsman and whipper in lost control of several hounds and they rioted on a Roe Deer. The terrified animal was chased across several fields before finally getting away with some sab help. Just another potential victim of the hunts and even though it wasn’t their intended quarry it’s another reason why the law needs to be tightened.

Killing something by accident is no excuse, although as far as we could see no attempt had been made to even lay a trail so they were acting illegally from the outset. Remember, using more than two hounds is illegal and with no trail being laid or bird of prey in attendance (a ridiculous exemption as a bird large enough to take a fox, namely an Eagle of some sort, is wholly unsuitable for use in these environments) they could have been legally stopped from operating completely should the police have chosen to do so.

All in all it was a good day for us. Only one stroppy supporter felt the need to try and wind us up as most seemed to have seen a few too many summers and clearly in no position to get involved in any aggravation and the local wildlife remained safe for the time being. This was the same hunt we ruined on Boxing Day (the Cambridge and Enfield Chace) except this time they had a joint meet with the Puckeridge hunt on who’s territory they were using. Packing a hunt up early is always very welcome and a surefire sign of an effective operation, needless to say I utilised my extra free time recovering from all those miles run and stuffing my face with a well earned veggie curry.

  1. Sally-Ann Kingham says:

    Well done and thank you.

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