Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

Plenty of funds for Policing Hunts

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Environmental

I’ve been a bit lax recently with my updates but in my defence this is a real busy time in the hunting season and often a time when most of the killing gets done. I have however had a couple of incidents which are worth commenting on.

First one happened on the 16/02 when, for a change we decided to take a day off work and make sure the Oakley didn’t kill anything on one of their midweek meets. It was pretty close to home as well so we had the advantage of local knowledge and also we had our eyes in the sky in the form of the Flying Fox Hunt Monitor and his microlight aircraft.

Unfortunately the hounds rioted on a Muntjack deer and at least one hound attacked the poor animal. We were on the scene moments later and managed to rescued it (full story here). We’ve since had an independent report from the vet who treated it and the wounds are consistent with a dog attack so there’s no mistaking who is responsible.

cop 1

This one seemed to think he was judge and jury without actually seeing any evidence and based his assumptions on the lies of the hunt.

The problem came in the form of the police who arrived shortly afterwards. Once again called by the hunt. We were treated very, very badly by them. They wouldn’t listen to our complaint of a crime having been committed, tried to block our filming of them and refused to give their badge numbers, something they are required to do by law. They also showed a level of sexist behaviour by refusing to speak to a female member of our group in favour of a male one who in turn refused to accept this situation and referred them back to the original complainant. They also attempted to remove us from land at the behest of a land owner who openly admitted while on the phone to the police that he was allowing fox hunting on his land and approved of the activity. All completely illegal of course. There were in total 6 police cars in various forms attending the incident, or should I say, trying to impede us and help the hunt.

crime map

Crime Map of the Area.

Next up was on Saturday (20/02) when we once again attended a meet of the Oakley, this time on the Beds/Cambs border north west of St Neots (full report here). We set a new record for police involvement. 13 vehicles this time plus the police helicopter. That’s quite an impressive array of law enforcement and yet not one was capable of noticing the illegal hunting going on before their eyes. They ranged in demeanor from jolly and generally not bothered to full on dim and aggressive. One officer even drew hit baton to search a sab vehicle for offensive weapons. You don’t have to be Stephen Hawkins to realise a non-violent animal rights organisation with a deep distrust of the police won’t be carrying anything that’s likely to get them in bother so you have to wonder why the police always seem to take the word of some angry ruddy faced land owner covered in tweed and wearing wellies with a personal agenda at face value.

Mr angry

Mr Angry from Moxhill Farm who admitted to allowing an illegal activity on hit land.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had meeting with Olly Martins, the PCC for Bedfordshire and as a force they are always making claims of critically low funding. Indeed many serious crimes aren’t being dealt with in the area even though our council taxes are rising to fund the local policing costs. If the cupboard is so bare then how is it they can find the reserves to attend hunts in such numbers? Just imagine the costs of 13 units and a helicopter. You’re looking at something probably in excess of £10K for the whole operation. I wonder how many crimes went uninvestigated due to this?

I’ve spent a fair amount of my time recently both locally and further afield in discussion with various forces in an attempt to change the situation with regards to the policing of hunts and the treatment of monitors and saboteurs. As far as I can see, it has so far been a complete waste of my time, nothing seems to change despite the claims of the senior officers I’ve spoken to. Officers are still completely ignorant of the hunting act and overly biased in favour of the land owners and hunters. Information about the people involved in these discussions also seems to have been passed on to the pro hunt lobby and that simply cannot stand. If you’re trying to build  a feeling of trust between the parties then leaking that kind of information certainly isn’t going to do you any favours and could prove a serious security concern.

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I have quite a collection of photos of this helicopter now.

I always try and act fairly when dealing with the boys in blue, if they’re good and decent I’ll let everyone know and have done so in the past but while we continually face this kind of treatment then the public at large should also be informed, especially when that public overwhelmingly support the ban on hunting with dogs and their taxes pay for the service. Complaints are going to be made and it certainly doesn’t end here.

 

War and Peace (sort of)

Posted: February 10, 2016 in Environmental

Well I’m no Tolstoy but the title seemed apt considering the recent developments.

I had a reasonably cordial chat with a hunt master the other day. He was sat there in his hunting finery, on his horse and I was on foot in my usual mud covered sabbing attire.

We were discussing the recent incident which had taken place and our subsequent agreement with the hunt. I won’t go into the details of the incident here as it’s been widely publicised already (see here) but the conversation went something along the lines of this:

AA: “Nice to see you’re as good as your word.”

HM: “Well yes, we don’t need that kind of thing.”

AA: “Agreed, violence doesn’t solve anything”.

HM: “We’re on different sides and that’s never going to change but we’ll keep doing what we do and you’ll keep doing what you do.”

AA: “What we do certainly keeps you fit”

HM: “I have to admit to a begrudging admiration of how fit you lot are and manage to keep up”.

AA: “There is one big difference between our sides though.”

HM: “What’s that then?”

AA: “What you do is illegal.”

HM: “No it isn’t”.

AA: “Oh come on now, we’ve got you hunting foxes today on video, you haven’t even laid any trails”.

HM: “Take me to court then.”

AA: “Well we both know the Hunting Act is no good, that’s why you’re still hunting”.

HM: “We’ll agree to disagree shall we. Anyway, I think most of my field are going to fuck off fairly soon (yes hunt masters swear)”.

AA: “Well it’s a crappy day, see you next week”.

fox

Watched the hounds then ran off in the opposite direction.

All the time this was taking place we had sabs seeing a fox away to safety on the other side of the wood we were covering. It was a good day in all. We got some prime sabbing done and no-one got their heads kicked in by some intellectually challenged meat head with personality issues. The field did indeed “fuck off” fairly soon after which meant a nice early finish for us, it takes time cleaning all the mud off your boots and the selection of vegan savouries and cakes we had weren’t going to eat themselves you know.

Of course we’re very happy the hunt saw that employing a certain type of person would significantly set them back in a PR sense and certainly not endear them to any potential new members but more importantly they understood what hunt sponsored violence against a sab or monitor would lead to. We never want to escalate a situation like this and I’m sure both the hunt and indeed ourselves are glad it’s not going to come to that but we made it perfectly clear that an attack on one sab is an attack on all of us, nationally.

The thought of having fifty plus sabs turn up in a show of solidarity no doubt filled him with dread but more importantly it filled the influential land owners with dread as well. We may be on slightly more polite terms with our local hunt now but we’re still going to sab them at every opportunity and given the correct circumstances we will indeed take them to court.

We’re still at war with them, it’s just a little more peaceful.

After the lows of the Christmas break it was good to get back to winning ways by messing up the Bicester hunt with Whaddon Chase last weekend, eight of us did a fine job against a big and nasty hunt (including stopping a dig out) although I shall never get used to the sound of hounds in full cry. It sends a shiver down my spine every time, knowing that, at any moment an animal could be about to lose it’s life in the most grisly of fashions.

I’ve had some very interesting conversations with those concerned with law enforcement as well as investigators from LACS and a Barrister who’s prosecuted those breaking the Hunting Act in the past. My neighbours must be wondering what the hell is going on, the last two weekend have seen the boys in blue in my front room taking statements and discussing hunting on several occasions. The New Years Day incident certainly gained a lot of media attention including national newspapers as well as coverage on local BBC and ITV. This has put pressure on the police to investigate properly and I’m hopeful that we can gain a conviction. Obviously I can’t say too much for legal reasons but the feedback has been positive so far.

Eagle

This bird wasn’t very happy at all.

The officer from Boxing Day (PC Pete Mills) has also taken a statement and while this is unlikely to proceed any further it certainly highlighted failings within the system as to how hunts are policed. We had an open and frank discussion and he’s going to suggest several options to his senior officers, most notably regarding the presence of terrier men which obviously begs the question, why do trail hunts need them? Of course well all know the real answer but it seems the message is getting across to the boys in blue.

Another interesting point to note regarding one of the loopholes used by hunts is the Bird of Prey exemption. Lots of hunts went out and purchased birds when the ban came in to force which they could them claim to be using to hunt the fox once it had been flushed by the hounds. There are several major issues with this, lets take a look.

Type of bird used, is it fit for purpose?

I’ve seen various types of birds being used including Eagle Owls and Steppe Eagles but realistically there is only one that’s available that would be capable of hunting a fox, and even then this is questionable. The Golden Eagle is native to the UK and has a huge international range and is an impressive creature. Northern European birds tend to be larger than their southern cousins and the females can be up to 30% larger than the males. This would make them the only option however they’re also much more desirable as a hunting bird so therefore command a much higher price. The weight of a male bird averages about 8lb but females can go up to 15lb (11-12lb average) with the largest recorded female weighing in at a hefty 17lb. Every eagle I’ve seen at a hunt has been a male, and some in quite a poor state.

In the wild their natural prey would be rabbits, hares, game and sea birds. They’d also scavenge on the carcasses of deer and have been seen attacking them in the hope the fall and injure themselves as they have no hope of killing such a large animal outright. Highland farmers blame them for predating on lambs and while I have seen them with lambs the numbers taken are fairly small. A fox however is a completely different ball game. While a large bird does have the capability it would chose a prey species that wasn’t capable of fighting back. In the wild the risk of injury would be too great.

bird on quad 2

Do you think it’s legal to drive on public roads with a BoP on your arm?

Has there even been a recorded case of a BoP catching a fox after it has been flushed?

Simple answer – No.

Not once, ever. Certainly not that I’m aware of. Now you’d think with all those hunts using birds there’d be at least one occasion but it just hasn’t happened. We can only deduce from this that they are in fact merely for show and they’re hunting as they did before the ban.

So what do the Hawk Board say about this?

For an organisation with strong links to the Countryside Alliance you’d think they’d be on side however the reality is quite different. Back in 2005 the then chairman, Jim Chick gave this quote:

“This is bringing the sport into disrepute.

Many of the hunts are using people to handle the birds who have just been on a short course. You are not competent to handle a large bird of prey after a short course.

Secondly, a fox is not a recognised quarry for a bird of prey. It is a large animal and cannot be easily subdued so there is a big ethical issue over whether they should be used.

An eagle is possessive and once it has caught a fox it will not let go. If the hounds are then brought in they could attack the eagle and a hound could be blinded or killed.”

In 2008 the Hawkboard spokesman Nick Kester said this:

“The Hawk Board is vehemently opposed to the use of birds of prey for fox hunting. We disapprove entirely. Birds of prey and hunting with hounds are not compatible.”

I’m sure their feelings haven’t changed over the years especially when the organisation is also deeply concerned with the welfare of birds which spend long hours in a box on a quad bike or being driven round the countryside at speed on the arm of their handler.

bird on quad

Is this any way to treat a majestic eagle?

Is it practical to use a BoP in conjunction with hounds?

Obviously the Hawk Board don’t think so but let’s look beyond the ethics and discuss the actual hunting.

To use the BoP exemption effectively the bird has to be unhooded and in a position to hunt. This would mean in front of the hounds in an area where the quarry is most likely to break cover. The very fluid and dynamic nature of fox hunting means this is almost impossible. Throw in a whole gaggle of riders with no experience of a BoP and you’ll start to get the picture.

There’s also the issue with the environment. Eagles need a lot of space to hunt effectively. Their preferred method in the wild is to stoop on their prey from height, gaining the speed and necessary power to surprise and overwhelm their prey. A clever prey animal will also use this against them, turning at the last minute to throw off the angle of attack. Many attacks will in fact be unsuccessful.

Flying from the falconers arm will mean the bird will have to generate it’s own speed without gravity to assist them. Any fox making for wooded areas will find safety as no eagle would follow them in as they simple wouldn’t have the space to maneuver and risk potential injury.

Just imagine for a moment that a fox is flushed and the bird is release and it catches the fox. Can you imagine the absolute carnage when the hounds caught up with the eagle and the fox, which would no doubt be putting up quite a struggle? I’ve yet to see a huntsman that can call off hounds once they’re in full cry and close behind a fox. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

Should the BoP exemption be removed from the Hunting Act?

Yes, no question.

It’s pointless. The whole purpose of the exemption has been used for nefarious means and those who practice falconry within the spirit of it’s original aims think the same. The use of BoP in conjunction with hunting with hounds should never be allowed, it’s a disaster waiting to happen but ultimately a disaster that will never happen due to the fact that no hunt will actually use a BoP in the manner that it was intended, they’re there just for show and nothing more. I have a feeling a case will come to light that will render this exemption obsolete when it comes to a point of law. This will effectively mean every BoP purchased by hunts will then become redundant along with the people who handle them.

Lets hope the birds don’t end up the same way most hounds do after they’re past their hunting best.

 

 

Sorry for the lack up recent updates, this really is the busiest time of year except of course my lack of time has nothing to do with frantically buying presents and wondering which family members to avoid on Christmas day. Nope, I’m fully engaged in the continual fight for animals lives both on-line and in the fields.

We’ve had some very successful operations against our local hunts, so much so that they are now fully committed to employing the services of the Mrs Miggins boys and a whole host of other slow witted bumpkins in an effort to blunt our effectiveness in disrupting them. We take this of course as a compliment and only stiffens our resolve, we’re certainly not going anywhere and will continue with our operations against them.

If you follow Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs on Facebook you’ll know we’ve finally taken possession of a new vehicle (named Boris by it’s previous owner) which will allow us to put more sabs in the field. This was purchased with a grant from the HSA (Hunt Saboteurs Association) and we are very grateful for the financial support they give. If you haven’t joined already please do, every penny goes towards the saving of our wildlife. Boris will be a fine addition to our armoury.

Speaking of financial support it’s staggering the amount of money the Countryside Alliance are prepared to splash in order to stop a hunt from being prosecuted. The recent private prosecution brought by the League Against Cruel Sports against the Lamerton Hunt which had to be withdrawn on a technicality (isn’t it great how our legal system works, the guilt was undeniable and yet a technical issue forced the withdrawal) has shown that the hunt would have to fork out  £72,355.42 for the court costs, a fee which the judge deemed that LACS would not have to pay as there was no improper act or omission by them. Of course everyone with an once of compassion would rather have seen a successful conviction but we all know getting one of those is akin to picking your nose and finding a gold nugget on the end of your finger.

cop 2

The mystery police officer.

In other news I’m a little closer to identifying the rider at a recent hunt who claimed to be a police officer. I’ve cross referenced footage from another source with my own and I have a still from my video which matches both descriptions and that of the horse she was riding. Unfortunately due to the distance it was filmed at and the movement involved it is a little blurred. I’ve enlarged and enhance a bit and I’ve no doubt someone may recognise her. I would imagine that a serving officer openly supporting an illegal activity could potentially find themselves in a difficult position should their identity come to light and of course the police would no doubt be interested in a person who went around claiming to be one of them if they weren’t. I have my suspicions as to an identity however please contact me in complete confidence if you have more information.