Posts Tagged ‘Bird of Prey exemption’

I had a call only the other day and a familiar voice spoke to me.

“Hi, it’s John, there’s been another change”.

My immediate thoughts were along the lines of “Oh FFS what now?” but before I could go any further John (the witness care officer for the CPS) informed me of the change.

“The date has been moved to next Wednesday and we’re back at Peterborough Magistrates”.

Now this seemed a little odd. Those of you who have been keeping up to date with the long running Fitzwilliam court case saga will no doubt already know that this high profile case has now been awaiting trial for well over 2 years. There have been multiple delays due to various reasons including what I believe to be the attempted derailment of the case by the CA and most notably “court politics”, that means not being able to find an impartial judge. The main reason the location was moved out of county originally was to try and lesson the chance of any conflict of interest with regards to the judge knowing the defendants however that probably now makes little difference.

John went on to explain that they had only found out about the changes by accident and were now desperately trying to inform all the witnesses. Was this an attempt to scupper the case somehow by not informing those required to attend? Later on I spoke to the investigating officer and he was as shocked as I. It was the first they’d heard of it and would now have to allocate resources to the day.

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Adams (left) & Mease.

So at least it was still going ahead and I will be giving evidence along with a colleague from another sab group on Wednesday (4th) while the expert witness will be speaking on Thursday. There are 2 cases to answer, 2 counts of illegal hunting (George Adams now retired Fitzwilliam huntsman and John Mease, current BoP handler) and another of cruelty to a protected species (John Mease).

As I’ve mentioned before the outcome of this case could have serious and wider implications regarding the use of raptors in an effort to circumnavigate the Hunting Act. I believe we have a very good case compared to the normal trail hunting cases we’ve seen recently. In those instances you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was intent to hunt the animal in question, the hunts will use the “accident” alibi to cover themselves and its difficult to prove otherwise.

By using the BoP exemption the intent to hunt is already there. What comes into question is have the hunt staff taken all necessary measures to call off the hounds once the animal has been flushed and has the bird has been released?

Nothing is certain in Hunting Act cases, but given a prosecutor who knows their stuff and an honest judge I hope for a successful outcome but regardless of whether we achieve a guilty or innocent verdict in the eyes of the court, getting them there is a victory in itself and anyone who witnessed the incident on the day will know the truth.

I’ll publish more details after the case along with the video footage I took.

If anyone wishes to attend and make their feelings known on hunting then please do however I ask you behave in a suitable manner.

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

A slight lack of updates recently but the hunt season is now in full swing and I’ve been committed to saving lives in the field to which we’ve been very successful, which leads me nicely to the point of this blog post.

I’ve produced and published many videos over social media and YouTube over the last few years and many have had several thousand views and generally been well received. They got the point across and some of the footage was both revealing and damning at the same time. However the latest one has, for the first time gone completely viral, which is a first for me and out group. While the incident recorded is nothing particularly new there was one part which really stood out and made it interesting. If you haven’t seen it already check it out below.

I, for once wasn’t actually there, the scenes were shot by 2 colleagues who were travelling in a different vehicle. I was on driver duty that day and while this footage was being shot I was attempting to get to the scene with more sabs as quickly as I could without endangering both animals and other road users.

The video also made both local and national news (Mirror) although the video was edited down which of course was to be expected but in doing so missed out some of the wider context. The big talking point was the reaction from the local people in the rural Cambridgeshire village of  Upwood. The so-called Countryside Alliance will often claim they are the voice of the countryside but, as the video clearly shows these rural people were far from happy to have their village invaded by the hunt in pursuit of a fox. They made their feelings know in no uncertain terms and of course this kind of a reaction is pure gold for the anti-hunt side and dispels all of the myths perpetuated by the CA that they speak for any of these people. They have, and always will be, a minority bloodsports lobbying group.

We’ve had lots of messages of support from the locals thanking us for our efforts and also expressing shock at the total contempt and sense of entitlement shown by the hunt on the day.

Of course this is a major embarrassment for the Fitzwilliam Hunt (remember they are due in court in April) but their response was equally laughable. As expected they went on the attack claiming they were hunting within the law and accused animal rights activist of “telling blatant lies”.

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Doesn’t look too interested in retrieving the hounds currently running amok.

Within the law – The Fitzwilliam cynically use the Bird of Prey Exemption. While no fox is caught on camera you can hear the villagers say they have seen it run through the village. For the BoP exemption to be legal once a fox is flushed the hounds have to be called off and the bird is released, in this case, a Golden Eagle. Do you really think they would release a Golden Eagle in a village? Any cats or small dogs would be at risk not only from the hounds but also from the bird itself but that was never going to happen. There’s a reason Golden Eagles live in mountains and uplands, they need a lot of space! Also a no point can you see or heat the Huntsman or Whipper In calling the hounds back. They are more interested in seeing them in cry and on the scent of live quarry. The legality claims simply hold no water.

The hunt also claimed; “The behaviour of animal rights activists shouting, screaming and telling blatant lies may well have caused some concern in the village to inflame the situation and was certainly of no help to anyone.”

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Surely if the hunts claims are to be believed there would be a huntsman in this picture calling back the hounds.

Actually what those present did was clear hounds from peoples gardens and private property while attempting to stop them hunting. This is obvious for all to see in the full video but then again we don’t expect the hunt to admit this. The villagers also acted on their own initiative before our operative arrived. They were confronting the hunt on their own terms and we absolutely support them in the stance they took. Well done villagers of Upwood!

It doesn’t end there. I’m told the Master, Philip Baker had to apologise to the villagers of Alconbury Weston only a couple of weeks ago for a similar incident, it seems they have previous on this. Will he be forced into making another similar and embarrassing apology? I’ll keep you posted but no doubt an attempt to blame sabs on the day will be included as a way of saving face.

A the time of writing the video has had over 2500 shares and 216000 views and its still going. It’s had a reach of over half a million and there have been 15500 reactions and comments. We’e also received in that time frame over a 1000 more likes to our Facebook page. These kind of number prove the hunting debate isn’t going to go away but most importantly the vast majority of those commenting have been supportive of both our actions and those of the villagers in the video. This is a clear demonstration that the days of hunting with hounds is truly numbered. We just need a Government willing to listen to the people, improve the legislation and enforce it vigorously.