Hunting and shooting lobbyists (not unexpectedly – see Fox Hunting lobbyists seeking way round new Covid law) ‘managed’ to secure exemptions during previous ‘Rule of Six’ restrictions. How will they get on this time around? This post will need to be updated regularly, but here’s what we think we know so far…
We’re not in any way making light of the restrictions placed on so many people this week by the spread of the coronavirus variant (many of our colleagues and friends are affected too of course), but while the full impacts of the newly-announced ‘stay at home’ Tier 4 restrictions (which seem likely to be followed by a national lockdown in January after super-spreaders arrive back home post-Christmas travel) are yet to be fully understood, we were inspired by tweets by both the Bath Hunt Sabs and the Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs this morning (which we’ve copied below) and we thought – in an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ moment – we’d post what we do know so far…
…which at least for wildlife living in Scotland and the Tier 4 region in England, seems to mean reason for festive cheer.
The so-called Countryside Alliance posted the following advice on the 20th Dec:
While Red Grouse aren’t found inside the new ‘Tier 4’ region, it’s worth pointing out that the grouse slaughter season ended on December 12th so ‘driven game shooting‘ will refer to the godawful ‘sport’ of driving semi-tame pheasants and partridges towards shooters.
The ‘pheasant season’ ends on the 1st of February in England, Scotland and Wales (could all three countries be in national lockdown still by then?), and even current restrictions potentially mean that a hugely reduced number of birds will be killed. The ecological impact of the unplanned-for survival of perhaps hundreds of thousands of pheasants (which have voracious appetites and will eat pretty much anything) could be significant. That’s never bothered shooting’s profit-driven estate owners before, of course, but they will be laying awake at night fretting about the large areas where the guns have fallen silent and their blood money is not being raked in.
Secondly, fox hunting.
Fox hunting is a law unto itself (at least it thinks so). The ludicrous ‘Hunting Office’ (of ‘smokescreen’ and ‘soft underbelly’ webinar fame – see Hunts on the run) appears to think that its ‘directions’ are adhered to by foxhunts, but their advice (as laid out below) routinely goes unheeded…
…as this tweet showing yet more ‘hunt chaos’ (and there are many, many examples online of hunts NOT showing courtesy, respect etc) shows…
…while this wry tweet from the Bath Hunt Sabs demonstrates the ‘this covid stuff really doesn’t apply to us‘ attitude of fox hunts…
However, that sort of ‘ignoring the spirit if not quite breaking the law’ behaviour won’t be taking place in a large part of the south east of England for at least the next few weeks. Unless fox hunts can go about in groups of one! The law pertaining to ‘Exercise and Recreation’ (which hunts did their best to suggest included illegal fox hunting earlier in the ‘season’) is clearly laid out on the government website which says that:
The end of the fox hunting ‘season’ (yes, we want to know how there can still be a ‘season’ for something that’s illegal) is normally at the end of April, so there is plenty of time for the wildlife criminals to kill animals yet, sadly, but many hunts will be losing revenue at the moment.
Good news for wildlife, and we can only echo the thoughts of the Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs whose joyful tweet we mentioned above:
We’ll update this page as more information comes in, but in the meantime stay safe and in particular can we thank the monitors and sabs who have volunteered so much of their time to protect wildlife this (and every) year.
EDIT 22 Dec 2020: The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) have just published an interactive map which shows the location of hunts that will be breaking the law if they go out. As the HSA also says “If you see hunts out anywhere in the country then film them as they almost certainly won’t be practising social distancing and will be continuing to spread this deadly virus in pursuit of their desire to kill wildlife.”