Posts Tagged ‘HSA’

The so called Countryside Alliance are without doubt a truly insidious organisation. While they make claims about being the “voice of the countryside” the realty of the situation is far from the truth. Their main focus was, and always has been the promotion and preservation of blood sports, hunting shooting and fishing. However with public opinion against hunting in particular at an all time high, a review of the laws surrounding hunting in Scotland currently underway and several high profile prosecutions going against them the CA are clearly feeling the heat and will once again resort to rummaging around in their box of dirty tricks to try and maintain their status and that of hunting within the UK.

Now the CA are no strangers to underhand and bully boy tactics. They tried to manipulate the legislation with regards to the monitoring of hunts (see here) as well as attempting to directly influence police policy with regards to saboteurs before so it came as no real surprise when a letter was leaked that was sent from their CEO Tim (not nice but dim) Bonner to all their members explaining how they intended to proceed with the coming hunt season. The Cheshire Monitors group were the first to publish this on their Facebook page and it makes interesting reading.

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Firstly Bonner sets out with some unadulterated self congratulation. Hunting only exists due to the CA it would seem but also admits that they despite the ban hunts are still flouting the law, “hunting as we know it” clearly refers to the pursuit of a live mammal. Even with a letter going to their own members any organisation regularly involved in the promotion of law breaking should, you’d think, be a little more discrete.

The next part is quite an admission and personally I’d like to thank Tim for the kind words regarding sabs. It’s abundantly clear that we are indeed having a “significant” impact on hunting although from what I understand the HSA membership has increased significantly and more active sabs are joining all the time but once again  it proves you should, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Tim does get a little mixed up at this point though, the simple truth is we don’t have to make up lies to get our point across and show up hunting for what it really is. Social media has given us a platform in which to show the many examples of illegal hunting and the related violence each week during the hunting season to a huge audience and without the spin of normal media outlets. We’re winning the PR war that’s for sure.

This is where it get’s really interesting.

It would seem the CA’s new approach will be to expose individuals who oppose them (I’ll be disappointed if I’m not on their list) and try to get the police to do their dirty work. You see the problem here is they’ve just admitted to harassment, maybe even conspiracy? He goes on to mention all sorts of crimes which are regularly undertaken by both hunts and their supporters against non-violent monitors and sabs that Bonner and his cronies are mysteriously silent about. Violence in the countryside? Oh my Timmy, people in glass houses really shouldn’t start throwing stones you know. Now this revelation is in the public domain it will be interesting to see what they do next, will it be damage limitation time or just ignore this complete blunder and crack on regardless? How do they intend to “expose” their opponents, will I have to look out for private detectives rummaging through my rubbish bins in the hope of finding something incriminating? No doubt chief subverter Phillip Davies will play a leading role in this. If you don’t know who he is then you can read all about him here.

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Philip Davies – Ex cop and CA subverter.

Finally they get to the real point of the letter – they just want some money. This whole debacle is nothing more that a begging letter!. How terribly sad. Now correct me if I’m wrong but I was always under the impression that the CA weren’t short of a bob or two, especially considering the number of MP’s they have in their pockets and the number of millionaires which seem to hunt. I think one could safely assume if they needed some extra cash they’d be banging on the doors of a few of their wealthy members and asking for a handout, perhaps all is not well on the cash flow front?

Irrespective of all of the above this is likely to be a major embarrassment for the CA and the complete buffoon at their helm, Tim Bonner. Of course Bonner should be well used to cocking up by now, he’s the CA’s version Boris Johnson.

When you go into battle it’s usually a good idea not to let your enemy know your plans and the CA have unintentionally laid theirs out for all to see. Let’s see how this all pans out . . .

 

I’ve heard some far fetched excuses in my time but this one has to take the biscuit. It came from Mark Bycroft, huntsman for the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hill hunt. Mark has convictions for assaulting anyone who gets in the way of his blood lust and is a serial fox killer, not exactly the sort of person you’d describe as a reliable witness. His outrageous claims were in response to the horrific video published by North Downs and Guildford Sabs of a fox the hunt had killed south of Chiddingstone last Saturday (3/12). Sabs were unfortunately only moments too late to save the animal but according to Bycroft it was all their fault.

He said; “I understand they found a dead fox in the wood but I wasn’t there at the time so I don’t know what has happened. They use hunting horns and play recordings and try to disrupt the hounds. If an incident has happened they are to blame.”

So lets look at the facts:

A hunt is in the area, the only hunt and Bycroft is the huntsman.

Hounds have killed a fox as they are trained to do.

The hounds belong to the hunt which is in the area.

Sabs are on the scene moments later and witness the kill and record footage.

Hunt staff/terrier men are aware the hounds are hunting a wild mammal.

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If Bycroft wasn’t there what the hell was he doing? It’s his job to be in control of the hounds. Blaming sabs for the incident is of course complete and utter nonsense. Their only desire is to save the hunted animal and they did their very best however they’re hardly likely to act in a way which would scupper their primary aims. Now this means that Bycroft is either completely incompetent at his job (which is possible) or he’s purposefully casting the hounds into areas looking for foxes and leaving them to get on with it on purpose so he has the excuse of not knowing anything about what is transpiring.

Except of course he knew all along the hounds were on a fox. Terrier men were observed hollering to indicate they’d seen a fox, the hounds were in full cry (making a loud baying noise) and hunt staff were nearby with full knowledge and made no attempt to call off the hounds.

Rightly this has made the national media and the evidence has been passed on to the police however despite the obvious illegality I doubt there will be any convictions resulting. Lee Moon, spokesperson for the HSA summed up;

“Mark Bycroft has previous convictions for assaulting hunt saboteurs. His hunt have also been filmed illegally chasing and killing foxes but have never been prosecuted for this due to the inadequacies of the police and the Hunting Act. We hope this time it will be different but won’t hold our breath. Whether they get prosecuted or not this video footage speaks for itself. The Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent are a bunch of rural law breakers who think they are above the laws of the land. Well done to the sabs present who, although they weren’t able to save this particular fox have again highlighted the reality of hunting since the ban.”

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This wasn’t the only incident last weekend.

You may remember I reported on several incidents previously regarding the Belvoir Hunt (see here, here and here) and it seems they still regard themselves as untouchable. Three foxes were killed by the hunt in the same day from their meet at The Wolds Farm near Holwell. Also present on the day was the PPC for Leicestershire Lord Willy Bach along with officers from the Leicestershire force. Sabs from Northants Hunt Sabs witnessed a fox being chased and brutally killed in a farmyard near Scalford Hall. Huntsman John Holliday was present and made no attempt to stop or call off the hounds but dismounted his horse and assaulted a female sab as they tried to save the animal. It unfortunately died in the arms of the sabs at the scene.

On reporting this incident to the police they confirmed the Belvoir had already killed 2 further foxes, this time in the grounds of a nearby nursing home which was witnessed by staff and patients alike and reported by a horrified member of the public. The police also had the bodies of the murdered foxes as evidence. Lee Moon from the HSA again;

“2016 has shown the world exactly what the Belvoir hunt are like. They were implicated in keeping captive foxes, then viciously assaulting those who had exposed them. Now as the year draws to a close they brazenly hunt and kill three foxes in the presence of Leicestershire Police. Members of Leicestershire Police, including former wildlife crime officer Sharon Roscoe, are known to ride with the Belvoir and we hope this doesn’t influence any investigation. It is perhaps fortunate that the Leicestershire PCC was also present on the day to insist that this latest law breaking by the Belvoir is not brushed under the carpet.”

These incidents just show the utter contempt hunts have for the law and their arrogance by still claiming what they are doing is legal. No-one with any sense believes their lies any more and the blatant manner in which they pursue their grisly agenda time and again is a true reflection of their desire to kill and remain immune from justice. There has been a review in Scotland recently on their hunting laws and I remain hopeful that progress will be made there. The same process should be followed in England and Wales however the big difference here is we have a pro-hunt Government and an Environment Secretary who wants to repeal the act. Until these hurdles are removed it will be left to those in the field putting themselves on the line to stand up for our wildlife – The Hunt Saboteurs. Find your local group and bung them a few bob.

For the second installment of guest contributions to my blog I’m pleased to welcome Joe Hashman, the man behind the hugely successful ‘Hounds Off’. Here Joe will explain everything you need to know about Hounds Off, from concept to fruition.

In Spring 2010 a Tory landslide seemed imminent and, naturally, fears about the future of the Hunting Act occupied much of my mind. The challenge was (and remains) to find a way to stop hunting which can be effective regardless of what the law says. What became Hounds Off was an idea. Or rather, a collection of ideas.

I’m pretty convinced that the hunting community knows full well that having land to tally-ho over is essential. “Country” (as they call it) is central to everything they do and having access to it is jealously guarded. Despite hunting with hounds truly being a minority pastime, the unspeakable minority operates a well oiled machine which facilitates their animal abuses of choice even though technically they’re outlawed.

Back to the idea.

“Hounds Off Our Wildlife”. The HSA used to have a black and white poster with those words on complete with images of deer, fox, hare and otter. It was a straight-forward and simple poster but it struck a chord the first time I saw it.

“Hounds Off Our Wildlife”. That’s HOWL, the radical, informative, inspirational, ground-breaking, often entertaining voice of the Hunt Saboteurs Association.

Hounds Off Our Wildlife. Hounds Off. This is what we want. Short, sharp, to the point. Does what it says on the tin, kind of thing. Did the HSA object? I asked the Committee. No they said. Carry on.

After quite a lot of meetings with colleagues and close friends it was decided that a website would be the best vehicle for delivering the Hounds Off message. The plan remains to create as many no hunting nature reserves as possible, including all sorts of land; from whole estates and farms to smallholdings and back yards. We wanted universal access to the information needed to do this effectively, autonomously and with no-strings. The Internet provides an ideal platform and so www.houndsoff.co.uk was born.

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The concept of creating hunt-free zones is not new. The League Against Cruel Sports started buying sanctuary land in the West Country in the 1950’s, principally to disrupt stag hunting. The counter-concept of preserving hunting rights had earlier seen the formation of companies who sole purpose was to support bloodsports. In reality, Royalty has been dictating over hunting preserves for centuries. Today a whole structure exists to exert the power and control of that influential, criminal minority who like to hunt. Not everybody knows about this ‘system’ but it’s real. Anyone who has crossed their line knows about it, that’s for sure; the bullying, the ostracising, the undermining, the dismissing, the evicting. Rural peer pressure can be intense.

So where does Hounds Off come in? Well, Hounds Off empowers people. For anyone affected by hunt trespass (or the threat of it), we really do provide the information and tools needed to protect property, livestock and pets. Alongside bringing together a community of related minds to stand united on this issue in real life and via social media, the aims and objectives of Hounds Off today genuinely are as simple as this. Looking to the future, if you believe as I do that “available country” is a major factor in deciding whether or not a Hunt can exist, then squeezing them in that area makes perfect sense.

For Sabs and other front-line campaigners, Hounds Off is another tool in your kitbag which can be used to scupper bloodsports and save lives. You’re meeting the outraged public, disgruntled locals, beleaguered landowners and farmers who have had enough. Please use www.houndsoff.co.uk as a resource where you can suggest folk go to find support and solutions to the problem of hunt trespass. The Action & Advice pages (Warn Off Your Local Hunt) are especially crucial!

Last autumn I was working in a wood which belongs to a Hounds Off landowner. One of my fellow volunteers told me he was living off-grid in a bender under a hedge on land owned by friends who were new to the area. The local Hunt had run their hounds through his encampment and the new owners could do nothing to prevent it. Turns out that, deep within the conditions of sale, rights to hunt over that land were protected. You can be sure similar arrangements are being made elsewhere. Aside from ongoing efforts to repeal the law, I’ve no doubt that anything and everything which could obstruct hunting in the future is being ‘dealt with’ or neutralised, often quietly and behind the scenes. This includes ensuring access to as much land as possible via sporting rights, deeds and covenants. Remember, without available country any hunt is knackered.

The best thing I can tell you is that, since launching in September 2010, Hounds Off has helped people across the UK and thousands of new acres of hunt-free land has been established. Where hunt-related problems persist so our support remains ongoing. The Hounds Off philosophy is simple and based on people power. Hounds Off is about being strong at our roots, resolute, standing with our friends united and, yes, these tactics are effective!

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Have a look at the accompanying diagram called “How To Make Friends & Influence People”. It’s not theory – it comes from the my experiences of how Hounds Off is working on the ground and shows how cultivating relationships between Sabs, Monitors and the public can benefit us all, including (most importantly) abused wildlife. See what you think and how you could make it relavent for your group. Most importantly, personalise it. Make Hounds Off your own and www.houndsoff.co.uk an asset which you use.