Well that was a hectic weekend.

We’ve had quite a few requests from people wanting to get directly involved with saving our wildlife and of course that’s great however as the hunting season comes to an end the hunts get more desperate to kill and tensions increase. It’s certainly no time to introduce someone new to the game where cool heads and experience are required.

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The Walk of Shame

As a group we’ve had the polar opposites in terms of operations. First we hit the North Bucks Beagles mid week after a tip off and they packed up the moment they saw us and then at the other end of the scale were the Fitzwilliam who hunted to the last. Even with 4 sab groups combined against them this hunt refused to lose face and jack it in. They hunted several foxes and came very close indeed to killing at least two. We’re fairly certain without our presence the mortality rate would have been high and when you consider this is the same hunt in court next month you begin to understand their arrogance and belief they can do what they like.

A few of interesting points from the day stick in my mind.

First one was the fox which passed close to us followed by the hound about a minute behind. The huntsman (Simon Hunter) shouted at us, “Why didn’t you stop them?” of course we held them up as best we could and indeed believe it gave fox enough time to find cover and escape however these weren’t the words of a man concerned with the welfare of the fox the hounds were ‘accidentally’ after. These were the words of someone covering their own arse. This was indeed his attempt at an alibi should we have the evidence to bring them to court again. The Fitzwilliam use the Bird of Prey Exemption and I’ve written about this before at length (see here) but also by using this exemption they are admitting to hunting a live quarry. Of course to use this loophole the bird of prey has to be in a position to hunt the flushed animal and as usual this is simply never the case. The bird and handler (John Mease – also court next month for hunting act offences and cruelty) are only ever there for show.

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One of several that we helped get away.

The whole day really was like pre ban hunting. Badger setts were blocked (and unblocked by our colleagues at North and South Cambs Sabs) foxes were hunted to ground and one escaped in a grave yard where the fence bars were narrow enough for the fox but not the hounds. Whenever you see hunt staff dismount you know there’s trouble afoot and get in there as quick as possible. The weasily little turd of a Whipper In hit me with his hunting horn as I pulled out the hounds but I’ve been hit by bigger and tougher people than him and not backed down and they didn’t get the fox which is all that matters.

Later on two riders were using their horses as weapons against a sabs and when we intervened a particularly overweight and ugly rider (we’ll call him Tubbs for a couple of reasons) completely lost his sh*t and violently reacted by whipping a sab in the head. This could have resulted in a very serious injury, it was very close to her eye but luckily she receive nothing more than a sore red lump. Typically Tubbs showed once again what cowards they really are. Once the police arrive on the scene he had vanished, clearly scared to face any repercussions.

Speaking of the police it would seem that the Northants force has some way to go to understand the Hunting Act. When officers finally arrived after multiple calls they were as expected not interested in any hunting offences. I took time to show the officers the very clear footage of the fox being pursued by the hounds and to my amazement they claimed that was not illegal. Now the officers were obviously not used to dealing with hunting related incidents however their excuse for claiming no law had been violated was the fact the fox got away and was not killed. This is of course complete nonsense, a hunt only has to show intend to be guilty and the Fitzwilliam had shown this in spades. The hunt master then declared to the officer that they were going to continue on private land and to detain the sabs present to stop them following. I once again pointed out that you can enter private land to prevent a criminal offence and as we had sufficient evidence to suspect this may take place were would go where we pleased. I also pointed out that trespass is a civil offence. The officers by this time were looking somewhat overwhelmed and stated to all present, “We’re only here for public order”. The master galloped off in huff with sabs in tow.

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Caption competition time!

The most amusing part of the day was seeing a hunt supporters expensive 4×4 in a ditch with the police looking on. It transpires the driver was so keen to get some pictures on his phone of our colleagues he completely forgot about keeping his car on the road with the predictable results. No doubt a fine and some points will be following shortly.

Finally it’s great to see at least one hunt brought to justice. 3 members  of the Grove and Rufford Hunt (Paul Larby, 58, Peter White, 57, and Jane Wright, 63) were found guilty at Mansfield Magistrates. Of course they claimed the official “it was an accident and we were on a trail” lie but this time it seems to no avail. Interestingly the video evidence of them killing the fox was shot by a bird watcher who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  District Judge Timothy Spruce said: “There is good and compelling evidence that the hunt was aware of the fox, but it appears there is no evidence that hounds were directed away.”

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The statement from the judge is quite interesting in that he saw that not calling the hounds off as intent, as opposed to catching the huntsman actively hunting the hounds on. This may have further reaching legal ramifications for future. Peter White was the terrier man and supposed trail layer for the hunt and was convicted purely for this basis proving once again if a hunt has terrier men then there is the intent to hunt a wild mammal. The 3 convicted are considering an appeal, but deep down even they will admit they are guilty with the appeal purely a face saving exercise and perhaps an attempt to get a more sympathetic judge. It’s just a shame the penalties aren’t much stiffer. Maybe some jail time if proved guilty would be more of a deterrent in the future.

 

Comments
  1. Deborah Swift says:

    Great piece as ever & a massive thank you to you and sabs everywhere doing this vital role xx

  2. Yvonne Day says:

    “I was laying a trail officer”

  3. Gary says:

    Re the stuck 4×4 reminds me of the old joke about the difference between a hedgehog and a Range Rover. “On a hedgehog the pricks are on the outside ” massive respect for you guys

  4. Lisa Banks says:

    well done thanks to all hunt sabs

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