Now I promise you I have no obsession with the Fitzwilliam Hunt. They are just another bunch of wildlife abusers who happen to be fairly local and who we’ve gathered enough evidence on to take to court. However they do keep giving me plenty of material to write about and while this continues I’ll counter their lies with the truth and show them up for what they really are.

Here’s their latest post on their Facebook page.

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1 – “The landowners gave us permission to cross their land”. That kind of sounds like they just went through the grounds of Burghley House, like crossing a river over a bridge, merely going from A to B. This was not the case. The meet was in the grounds itself and they spent over 2 hours within the grounds boundary openly drawing every piece of woodland they could put the hounds through, starting on the west side before covering the large area of woodland to the South and east. They even drew a reed bed next the lake in the grounds. During this time they flushed a hare which serial wildlife abuser John Mease couldn’t resist releasing his eagle on and this animal was killed. While this in itself is not illegal it certainly wasn’t the aims of the hunt and puts into question his purpose on the day. Hares are also in huge decline at the moment and need more protection but these people care not about such matters.

The hunt also spent several hours outside the park to the south-east openly hunting, although by this stage much of the field had gone home.

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Burghley House & Park.

2 – “We engaged in a variety of legal forms of hunting, including laid trails for the hounds to follow”.  Does anyone really believe this nonsense? We had them under observation ALL day. Not once did we witness any trails being laid and the hounds were being put through areas of undergrowth where no trail layer could ever have gone (thick woodland and reed beds). It was abundantly clear to all except the blind and terminally idiotic they were illegally hunting. And if they were following a trail what was the purpose of the masked up terrier men on quads?

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Fitzwilliam terrier men – no purpose on a trail hunt

3 – Whilst undertaking this legal activity, there was sadly repeated trespass and harassment by hunt saboteurs who also endangered both hounds and people by interfering with hounds and calling them away from the control of the huntsman”. So, we’ve already established it wasn’t a legal activity so that’s done with and as I’ve stated in previous posts trespass is a civil offence and hunting is criminal, you can trespass on private land to prevent this crime from taking place. It should also be noted that the park grounds themselves are open to the public so it was in fact impossible to trespass here, something the hunt once again failed to note. There never was any harassment either, we simply follow the hunt, predict their movements and be ready in place to intervene should we be required to. If there was any harassment taking place it came from the jokers who were assigned to us by the hunt to act as minders.

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One of our “minders” – not the sharpest tool in the box.

The statement is also a bit of a slap in the face for their huntsman, Simon Hunter. If a bunch of sabs can so easily take the hounds away from his control what does that say about his abilities as a professional huntsman? Doesn’t sound like he’s up to the job, perhaps they should sack him and get someone else in. There never was any danger to either people or hounds, except of course when Simon let the hounds riot on some of the many deer in the area. He lost the pack all on his own. In fact we retrieved several lost hounds and bought them back to him but this of course wasn’t mentioned in the FB post, funny that. Once more, this is an utter fabrication with a single purpose, to make the best of a bad day and save face. Remember this is the same hunt who lost control of their hounds and caused havoc through the village of Upwood, much to the annoyance of the locals.

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Simon Hunter with the hounds under control for once.

4 – Sadly we had to ask the police to attend due to this dangerous, unlawful and irresponsible behaviour by the saboteurs. We always encourage hunts to call the police. They can then explain what they are up to. It also tends to keep all the hunt thugs in order. So what happened then, did multiple units turn up and arrest every sab in sight?

Nope.

A couple of bored looking units arrived, clearly they had learnt their lesson from previous encounters and are now aware of the lies told by the Fitzwilliam and are refusing to act as their private security force. They smiled and waved at us as we drove past and made no arrests.

5 – “All hounds were safely returned to the huntsman despite the saboteurs efforts to prevent this”. The hounds weren’t returned by anyone. The simple fact is the Whipper-in probably spent hours galloping round the countryside trying to retrieve hounds which had run off after some of the local wildlife. Some hounds would have found their way back on their own. Despite these outrageous claims we always want the best for the animals and although the hounds often look half-starved and covered in scars and growths the only option is back with the pack. Hunts will often make this claim in an attempt to turn the argument into a class war type thing and paint sabs as just trouble makers with no respect for animals but once again this is just a whole pile of steaming horse shit.

The statement as a whole is nothing more than a very poor attempt to put a positive spin on a day that was a complete disaster for them on what was supposed to be a prestigious meet. They set out 2 hours early in an effort to avoid our attentions and yet we still found them. The simple fact is they are being spotted by the general public and they are in turn letting us know their movements. We have eyes and ears everywhere and the hunts are universally disliked. Their days are numbered.

If you’ve been keeping up with developments you’d have read my blog entry from last week that was in response to a statement the Fitzwilliam Hunt put out. Well interestingly they’ve responded and this made me very happy indeed.

Firstly thanks for the extra hits guys, I really appreciated it. It’s nice to know my blog is being read by both sides.

Secondly (and most amusingly) they’ve chosen to respond regarding the use of Citronella. Now my original blog post highlighted many issues regarding the illegal activities of the Fitzwilliam. The questionable use of a Bird of Prey, the presence of terrier men, the blocking up of Badger setts, the legality of trespass and access to private land and the laying of non-existent trails. Are we then to assume that they have conceded on all the above points I raised as truth, and they have nothing else as a counter argument? I wonder if they will issue another statement? Do you think they will hire a lawyer (they can certainly afford one) or get another deluded and indoctrinated teenager to write a heartfelt but ultimately nonsensical response?

There statement on the use of Citronella can be seen below.

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It’s fairly clear they gave someone the job of doing a bit of research on citronella and they’ve quoted chapter and verse from the data sheet. However this has backfired on them in a pretty significant way. The response from the fabulous British general public was spectacular.

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So OK for use on children. Good to know.

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Some nice science there. I like science.

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Everything carries a potential hazard notice. It clears the manufacturers of any possible claims in the unlikely event of any reaction.

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I agree, not even neat Citronella can cover their desperation.

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Embarrassing indeed.

The above comments as only a small selection of the responses, the vast majority anti-hunt, factual and highly critical. If hunting is to survive it needs to take a long hard look at itself. Stop hunting live quarry, adopt the clean boot or drag, show some respect to other people and their  property and get with the times. Its a tiny minority pastime and the British public are deeply ashamed of what you do and what you represent. This archaic tradition is no excuse for cruelty, it’s time to adapt or go the way of the Dodo.

Bonus blog post this week as I just had to respond to something which appeared on Facebook. Regular readers will no doubt be aware of my own personal battle with the Fitzwilliam Hunt and getting them to court to face justice over the killing of a fox on New Years Day 2016. Of course the delays wouldn’t stop our combined operations against them with other local groups and most notably North Cambs Hunt Sabs as it’s their local hunt.

I’d always say the more success you have against these people the more they’ll come out with lies and fabrications to discredit us and restore their ever thinning veneer of credibility. These outbursts are nothing more than spitting out their combined dummies and are easily picked apart. Let me demonstrate. Below is a statement from their Facebook page, a page where they said they would never mention antis or sabs.

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Fitzwilliam Hunt Facebook Statement

1 – We have changed practices to comply with the Hunting Act. Well, not really or you wouldn’t be in court this April. Simple one that. They always seem forget this, I wonder why?

2 – Exercising hounds and horses together, hunting a laid trail, using hounds to flush a fox into the open when it can be taken by a bird of prey. The Fitzwilliam have never just exercised hounds. Why is there always a terrier man present if they are just exercising or following a trail for that matter. Indeed the last time we saw them with a trail layer he was some distance behind the hounds with the grubby rag flapping about 3 feet off the ground. On the same day John Mease (their BoP handler and co-defendant in the case) was also there. One could safely assume that you’re either following a trail or you admit to hunting live quarry by flushing to the BoP. They CANNOT legally combine these. Were they following a trail or flushing to an Eagle when all their hounds rampaged through the village of Upwood recently?

While we’re on the subject of that it should be noted that the legality of using the BoP is questionable a best. I covered the subject in more depth here but when hunts started using this loophole Defra stated:

“Employing (whether or not released to hunt) a bird of prey which does not ordinarily hunt that particular wild mammal [would be illegal], because, in our view, it suggests that the flushing was not for the purpose of enabling the bird of prey to hunt the mammal.” The falconry exemption allowed dogs to flush out wild mammals for the birds to hunt but not to “run after, chase or pursue the wild mammal after it has been flushed out. Nor does the exemption allow the dog(s) to kill the wild mammal.” Britain’s second biggest bird of prey, the Golden Eagle, only takes small fox cubs in the wild. Up to 30 hunts are believed to have bought birds of prey in an attempt to test the act”.

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John Mease

3 – Whilst doing this, we are harassed by men and women (many are masked) who abuse us, behave in an intimidating way, trespass repeatedly on private land and spray wildlife habitat and our horses and hounds with noxious sprays, all with the intent of preventing our lawful activity. Firstly we don’t wear masks and neither do the sabs from our comrades North Cambs. Some groups attending do so and that’s their right. We don’t intimidate, we turn up and monitor and step in when they hunt live quarry. As they are displaying all the required criteria of an illegal hunt it is our right to prevent this from happening and as such can legally access private land to do so. Trespass is a civil offence, the Hunting Act is criminal.

Their mention of wildlife habitat is quite frankly insulting to the intelligence of anyone who reads their post. They don’t give a stuff about wildlife. Only last week we had to report on a badger sett which was illegally blocked by their terrier man (on their own land) to stop foxes escaping. The thick clay earth had sett like concrete and the danger to the Badgers trapped underground was clear. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this, they are habitual sett blockers and North Cambs have even caught the terrier man in the act! Let’s face it a pack of hunting hounds charging through the countryside along with a whole bunch of horses isn’t exactly good for any wildlife. We see all sorts of birds and animals scattering in all directions in utter terror.

Sabs don’t carry noxious sprays. We use citronella, a non-toxic essential oil mixed with water that has a lemony smell that can mask the scent of a fox. It’s totally harmless. We’ve never spray hounds or horses, any animal cruelty goes against our very ethos. These are simply badly constructed lies, swallowed by those who live in the sad little bubble inhabited by the hunt themselves.

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Fitzwilliam terrier man caught red handed

4 – The many, vindictive and confused posts on local Hunt Saboteur group pages suggest they have at best a flawed understanding of the law regarding hunting and no regard for the law regarding trespass or our right to pursue lawful activity. They may think they have the right to enforce their views on us, but they don’t. Now they  really are struggling with reality. We report on what happened on Facebook. It may not be the truth they want to hear but you can’t argue with the facts. Our understanding of the law has to be spot on otherwise we’d be arrested in no time at all. Funny how they are the ones going to court and yet no sabs. They keep mentioning “lawful activity” but it’s patently clear that’s nonsense as I’ve already explained.

So that’s enough for now. Rest assured we take this as a victory, proof indeed that our efforts are having an effect and judging by the poor turnout over the festive period it seems the message is getting through.

Photos courtesy of North Cambs Hunt Sabs

Something a little different for this blog post.

Becoming involved in the protection of wildlife through direct action can be a big step. I remember my first sab quite clearly and well, the rest as they say is history but I thought it may be interesting to get a newbies perspective after their first year on the front line against the hunters. So here it is, over to Titch . . .

I write this guest piece for MoreThanJustBadgers to mark a personal anniversary. Last Saturday was a year to the day since I first sabbed a fox hunt with my local group.
Before then, I was sat comfortably in my bubble of naivety. I had voted in the general election of 2001 guided by the prospect of a Hunting Act, having seen it pass into law I had thought that was that. Not until the Hunt Saboteurs Association managed to get into my twitter feed at the end of 2016, did I realise any differently.

Within a fortnight I was joining up with associates in the cause of animal welfare, learning the ways and language of the hunt, as well as the real reason for keeping your distance from heavily set, self-appointed, amateur ‘stewards’ (I’d have written something far less polite – Ed).

Over this past year I have been privileged to have campaigned and taken part in direct action against fox hunts, mink hunts, wild bird shoots and badger culling. I’ve witnessed untold numbers of animals escape with their freedom under the watch of sabs, and I have also sadly seen the deaths of some unfortunate creatures too. I’ve worked with people from the length and breadth of the UK, as well as activists from Europe too.

I learned that being vegan alone was not enough. Simply not taking part, allows horrors to be committed against animals week in week out. Compassionate and thoughtful people are needed to take a stand, to prevent what acts of cruelty they can, and to shine a light on what they can’t.

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The sun sets on another successful sab.

During the year I have been punched, kicked, threatened with weapons, driven at by quads and various 4×4’s, informed that I am going to be arrested, beaten up or even killed. I’ve seen friends beaten, bloodied, whipped and even arrested. I’ve spent time in muddy fields and wading streams, as well as in police interview rooms giving statements. Hunt sabbing has been exhilarating, as well as at times dangerous, but ultimately always rewarding and worthwhile.

The one constant throughout my first year of activism has been the unwavering attitudes of hunters. Every week they assemble, 11am sharp wearing the same dated outfits and following the same tired routines. They profess to be continuing their tradition, but in reality this is a rut. An endless cycle of pretence and theatrics constructed to deny the advance of time and sensibility. The same tired clichés are heard, “we’re hunting within the law, you antis spray hounds with acid and pull children off horses”, and so on. After attending a shade under 40 hunts in my first year, I have not once witnessed a trail being laid.

Policing has been variable at best. With some notable exceptions, most police officers have been content to turn their back on any reports of illegality by organised hunts, in favour of preserving public order. Of course, from a police officer’s point of view, thirty smartly dressed people riding horses in a field is perfectly good ‘public order’. Hunt sabs turning up and making a scene immediately brings that precious public order into question and on go the blue lights.

Will I still be sabbing this time next year? Almost certainly so. In five years? It’s certainly a possibility given the speed of change this country. Any further that that only time, and the House of Commons and future governments, will tell . . .