Posts Tagged ‘Hares’

It was pleasing to note that the Wildlife Crime Officer  and rider with the Belvoir Hunt (Sharon Roscoe) I reported on previously has stood down from her position. It would be nice to report that Leicestershire police had come to realise that her position was a clear conflict of interest and had removed her, however that isn’t the case. They maintained their support for her but public pressure on social media aimed directly at the officer seems to have had the desired effect. I cannot condone abuse and threats through any channel however public opinion on this matter was never going to let this abuse of power go unchallenged and while some of the methods are questionable the outcome is certainly the correct one.

My sources made me aware of this development during a meeting of the Leicestershire Police Ethics Committee and was confirmed by this tweet from the BBC’s Simon Hare:tweet

The claims that Roscoe hadn’t been a member of the hunt for some time are clearly questionable and my information is that members of her family are still heavily connected to the hunt.

Something which came to light while investigating this was, more worryingly the presence of another officer much further up the police food chain. A photograph from the Belvoir Hunt ball showed Roscoe with another officer, namely Lou Cordiner. Lou Cordiner is (or was) acting Chief Inspector and Area Commander for Leicestershire Eastern Counties. The image below is from a PDF published by Leicstershire Police which shows the rank of Cordiner.

LC_proof

Here is the image of Sharon Roscoe (left) with Lou Cordiner (right) at the Belvoir Hunt ball in June 2013.

roscoe_cordiner

OK that was two years ago I can hear you say but lets dig a little deeper and see what Cordiner has been up to more recently. Only at the beginning of the current hunting season it would appear Cordiner was present at an early morning cub hunting meet.

LC_cubbing

While not actually in the picture she is mentioned by name by the person who posted the picture on their social media account. Now as you may know cubbing (or Autumn Hunting as the hunts like to call it) is where the hunts train their new hounds by killing fox cubs. There is no loop hole to be used in the Hunting Act for this. It’s about as illegal as you can get. No trails are followed, no birds of prey, no exemptions. Riders surround a covert and stop young foxes from leaving it. The hounds are then sent in to kill them. The poster of the update mentions the morning and you can clearly see by the photo that it is early by the mist in the background. You can also see the traditional ‘ratcatcher’ jackets worn by hunt riders when cubbing.

You have to ask yourself why a senior officer is involved with such an activity? The next question is what if this is just the time of the iceberg? How many law enforcement officials be they police officers or judges are actually involved with an organised criminal activity. You then start to realise why the policing of hunts is so one sided.

I’ve had a lot of contact with the police from various forces. Some are unquestionably honest and decent people just doing the best they can however in my experience the police overwhelmingly come down on the side of the hunts when in the field and an incident from only last weekend once again proved this.

The photo below was taken by Northants Hunt Sabs. It shows inspector Ian Caffel who is based at Weston Favell police station, Northampton. He encouraged hunt supporters to block the roads to prevent sabs from following the Woodland Pytchley hunt. He also witnessed an assault on a sab yet did nothing.

cop

When challenged he said’ ” I am not bothered about assaults. But I am bothered about aggravated trespass “. When asked if he was going to do anything about the illegal hunting he said “No but I will be making arrests for aggravated trespass “.

Clearly an officer should remain impartial and not decide which laws are going to be enforced and which ones ignored. This is typical of the disgraceful behaviour currently exhibited by some of our police.

A friend of mine who’s been involved with the negotiations with the police but never been in the fields always maintained that the reason sabs were always getting the raw end of the deal was because the hunts were the ones who always called the police. They were making the complaints so the police focused on the sabs because of this. A couple of weeks ago I tested this theory  although I didn’t really have to as I knew what the outcome would be. A member of our group called the police to report illegal hunting. It was blatant and we had plenty of video evidence to support our complaint.

Two hours later a single unit with two officers arrived, they refused to leave their vehicle and paid no interest in the hunt. They made attempts to gain our details and then tailed us when we left. We took them on a nice mystery tour of Bedfordshire before they got bored and buggered off. Compare that to a couple of weeks previous when the hunt called the police and they arrived with thirteen units and a helicopter.

I’m fairly certain that if all officers had to declare any connection with hunting or shooting or perhaps membership of the Countryside Alliance we’d see a significant number that participate and these officers whether intentionally or otherwise are influencing those around them and their behaviour to towards hunt monitors and sabs. Whether this is organised and pre-planned would be impossible to prove however there is no doubt there appears to be an institutionalised prejudice towards sabs and monitors.

I’d suggest the rabbit hole goes a very long way down indeed and you don’t need to be in Wonderland to realise the cause of this.

 

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.

 

 

The Countryside Alliance will be quick to tell you it’s a pointless piece of legislation which punishes the good old British country life, a blight on rural communities who are steeped in tradition and are the best placed to manage the countryside in the ways they know best for all concerned, both man and wildlife.

Of course that’s a load of nonsense.

Any tradition which involves unbelievable cruelty should be consigned to the dustbin of history with things like slavery, bear baiting and putting small boys up chimneys. Just because something has been done for a significant amount of time doesn’t make it right. To evolve as a species we have the capability to reassess what’s right and what’s wrong then adapt our actions and behaviour accordingly. Clearly those who enjoy cruelty in any form are either incapable of this judgement through a lack of empathy for our fellow beings or have no moral responsibility (which means they’re probably sociopaths) or they’re just indoctrinated into a way of thinking to such a crushing extent that they’re incapable of breaking their programming through personal strength and intellect.

Put simply, they’re either mental or stupid.

Not a happy camper. But if you're doing nothing wrong the why the hostility?

Not a happy camper. But if you’re doing nothing wrong the why the hostility?

While the British public and even the majority of MP’s in the house of commons support the ban it would seem there is still a significantly powerful minority who are able to hold sway with those that have to uphold the law. We’ve seen time and again the lack of effective policing and in fact quite the reverse, the systematic persecution of those trying to save the lives of the animals illegally hunted. The police love to quote the numbers of successful prosecutions against Hare coursers but will often ignore the Beagle packs which illegally hunt Hares every week in full view. The difference? Coursers are usually from the lower end of the social and financial demographic while Beaglers will generally inhabit the upper echelons. I’ve never been one to favour the class war argument with regards to hunting as I’ve seen those from all walks of life involved in some capacity however by-and-large there is, without doubt some mileage in the claims and the actions of the police only help to enforce this. If they truly were impartial then anyone, regardless of background, finances and connections would face the same ramifications for breaking the law.

The Act itself has enabled there to be a significant number of successful prosecutions which wouldn’t have previously been possible however as is the case with much of these things the legislation is far from perfect. Hunts regularly use loopholes and exemptions to, pretty much get away with murder. The League Against Cruel Sports are pushing for improvements to the legislation and these include:

  • Prohibiting the use of dogs below ground – this is arguably where the worst cruelty occurs in hunting, not only to wild mammals pursued underground with limited opportunity to escape (usually foxes and badgers), but also to the dogs sent below ground to find these animals and either flush them out or hold them at bay.
  • Inserting a ‘reckless’ provision to ensure the killing of wild mammals during a trail hunt cannot be passed off as an ‘unfortunate accident’.
  • Increasing the punishments available to the courts so that the Act is brought in line with other animal protection legislation.

I agree totally with all the above however the most complete and water tight laws will become pointless if those who are tasked with enforcing them show little interest in doing so and this is the crux of the matter. Until our police and CPS take the law seriously and act accordingly then nothing will change.

Just exercising the hounds my arse.

Just exercising the hounds my arse.

Another issue is the lack of understanding into what’s going on in our countryside by the majority of people. Most believe hunting with dogs is a thing of the past, and why shouldn’t they, it has been banned after all. Time and again I get messages on Facebook and through this blog from people asking me what the situation is regarding the ban and whether it has been lifted. Most are stunned to learn that it is still in force and yet hunts are regularly seen to be killing animals with impunity. Generating public awareness is key in this issue. With better awareness the public can pressure their MP’s and make this issue into something that can be secure votes from the electorate. Environmental and wildlife issues should be at the heart of any political parties manifesto and yet it’s always seen as a secondary if not tertiary concern. Together we can make this a priority for the next election. If the Tories get back in and, perish the thought, UKIP gain more seats then we can say goodbye to all that we hold dear from our natural heritage, to be replaced by a playground for the rich and their lacky’s. A countryside devoid of biodiversity run by the bloodthirsty sociopaths hell bent on sick gratification through extreme cruelty.

We’re supposed to be a country of animal lovers. Let’s make sure we live up to that.

First off my apologies for being a little quiet of late. This was largely due to a total hard drive failure of my PC. Unfortunately I’ve lost the majority of my video files plus a few others things which could prove to be a pain in bum. However I’m now up and running once more with a new PC rebuild complete with fetching army green case!

Of course not being able to write my blog doesn’t mean I haven’t been active in the field. Two weekends ago we hit the Old Berkeley Beagles who intended to hunt hares in the area around Marsh Gibbons. The weather was foul, but us sabs are made of fairly stern stuff and a bit of rain won’t put us off although the hunters seemed less sturdy and spent the majority of their time hiding in a rickety old barn which was full of crap. When the rain finally abated they took us on a very pleasant 7 mile walk, the only highlight being a stroppy farmer who could only throw some pretty pointless abuse in our direction.

Old Berkely Beagles

Morons in green & white. They treat their own animals pretty badly so it’s no wonder they kill for fun.

Next up we spoiled the fun of the Hursley & Hambleden who were having a joint meet with the Hampshire Hunt. As expected we had a little trouble with them as one female sab was assaulted and another racially abused. Both incidents are being investigated by the police as we have supplied video evidence for both so we hope for a successful prosecution. Once again we proved effective, taking control of the hounds at one point and splitting the pack using horn and voice calls. It was a tough day with lots of running and plenty of mud but seeing the annoyed faces of the hunters  and no wildlife killed makes it all worthwhile.

However not every sab group have been so lucky. Our friends over at West Midlands Hunt Sabs were unable to save a fox which fell victim to the bites of many hounds, literally disemboweling the poor animal. They did however manage to retrieve the body which you can see below

dead fox

I make no apologies for the graphic nature. This is what these sick and twisted individuals take delight in and something I’ll never understand. Those responsible, the Albrighton and Woodland Hunt met at the Robin Hood Inn, Drayton Road, Stourbridge. Perhaps you may wish to contact them and ask why they support illegal hunting or maybe leave a review on their Facebook page. Another casualty last weekend was a deer which had to flee the as the South Dorset Hunt was active between Sherborne & Dorchester. In it’s desire to escape it ran right across a busy road and was struck by a car and killed. This incident highlights once again the damage the hunts do to more than just the animal they’re targeting.

The real problem of course remains in the policing of the legislation in place, or should I say the complete lack of it. If this was any other situation in any other location the police would be all over it like a tramp on hot chips however I think it’s pretty clear that they have instructions from on high not to get involved unless they can either cheaply arrest some sabs (who are in effect doing their job for them) to make their figures look good and justify some costs or if there’s a credible threat of violence, which is often the case and generally focused in our direction. The recent dropping of a case by the CPS which involved the killing of a stag by the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds is quite frankly a disgrace. They claim the kill was made under the exemption of “Scientific Research” which is of course complete bullsh*t.

Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports said: “How on earth can chasing a wild animal to exhaustion be considered as genuine scientific research and observation? The decision taken to drop the case against members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds needs immediate explanation. We urge the public to watch the footage for themselves and make up their own mind as to whether the primary purpose of the hunt member’s actions was for research or for sport.”

Watch the footage, decide for yourself.