Tag: fox hunting

Massive thumbs-down to NI’s fox hunters

Another gratifyingly very bad day for fox hunting (to add to dire financials caused by lockdown, leaked webinars, media coverage of pets being killed and of hounds being killed on the road, landowners suspending licences for so-called ‘trail hunting’ etc) as figures released by the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday showed overwhelming support for a ban on hunting with dogs following a country-wide consultation. An Alliance Party member’s bill to ban hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland (where it is still legal) gathered a huge 18,425 responses – perhaps the largest response ever to a private member’s bill there: 78% of those respondents were in favour of a proposed law protecting wild animals from being killed by dogs. Which begs the question: for how much longer can the grubby hobby of chasing foxes around the countryside exist before it is properly outlawed altogether? Going by the panicked response to every ‘threat’ to fox hunting, and despite what they tell the media, deep down even the most aredent lobbyists must know that the answer is ‘not for very much longer’…

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‘Trail-hunting’ – following the trail all the way to court…

The fall out from the leaked Hunting Office webinars (an online meeting discussing how to avoid being caught foxhunting leaked by the Hunt Saboteurs Association) continues with some remarkable news that broke today: Mark Hankinson, the Director of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA – the Governing Body of sticking two fingers up to the law whoops, we mean of course “for registered packs of Foxhounds”) will be charged in court in March with intentionally encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence under the Hunting Act 2004, contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crimes Act 2007. Foxhunting is a stubborn little virus, but this is, without doubt, a massive blow to a group of people who have routinely and deliberately broken the law every week since the Hunting Act came into force. It’s too early to say hunting won’t recover, of course, but kudos to the police for taking the investigation seriously and – of course – kudos again to the Hunt Sabs for getting these highly-incriminating video files online in the first place.

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Foxhunting | Shut the door on your way out…

It appears that foxhunting is nowhere near as resilient as its been trying to appear. As many campaigners have suspected (and we ourselves have pointed out recently), hunts have been hit hard by lockdown. Without the fees collected for hunts and point to point meetings, but with the hounds and infrastructure to maintain, many hunts are facing financial ruin according to the excellent new website Hunting Leaks (whose expose has now been covered by ITV News). While we would never use the term ‘sport’ to describe the actions of rural hooligans on horseback breaking the law, the phrases ‘in trouble’ and ‘running out of money’ will be music to many of us. The acknowledgement that hunts are also ‘running out of country (to hunt in)’ is also extremely good news and shows how important the pressure to suspend ‘trail hunting’ licences on organisations like the National Trust and Forestry England has been. It must continue.

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Petition | Govt response to call to ban ‘trail hunting’

As expected, the government has responded to a petition asking for a ban on so-called ‘trail hunting’ by saying that there is no need to change the law because the law already bans fox hunting and allows so-called ‘trail hunting’ (which the government appears not to recognise as a smokescreen for illegal hunting). Does that we mean we should give up though? Absolutely not. Hunts are under enormous pressure right now from leaked webinars, councils banning hunts from their land, ‘trail hunting’ licences suspended by major landowners like the National Trust and Forestry Commission, and a financial crisis (because of lockdown stopping hunts collecting riding revenues) that hunts have never faced before. Hunts are reeling under a barrage of continuous scrutiny, online information, and their own stupid missteps. We may not actually need legislation changing in Parliament – by keeping the pressure on, we’re all helping illegal fox hunting to die a deserved ‘death by a thousand cuts’ anyway…

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Glastonbury Festival bans hunt stewards

“We can confirm that this group will not be stewarding at Glastonbury in the future, and that we have fully vetted our list of stewarding groups to ensure that there are no other hunting organisations represented on it.” Excellent news as fox hunting takes yet another hit. Glastonbury Festival has scrambled to respond to an avalanche of adverse comments on social media by no longer employing members of the notorious Mendip Farmers Hunt as stewards, who in the past had been working alongside (presumably unknowing) teams from Oxfam and Greenpeace. The link with Glastonbury – which has always sold itself as ‘green’ despite founder Michael Eavis’s well-documented support for the badger cull – was detailed after a member of the hunt lost a memory stick which included details of all current hunt members and its financial statements. The fees previously paid to the hunt stewards by the festival had effectively been subsidising the hunt itself. As meeting minutes also found on the memory stick show, the Hunt is in a financially poor state and already lamenting the loss of income the pandemic was causing them, a situation that all hunts must be facing as more and more ‘dates’ are cancelled and riding out fees lost.

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Cheshire West | ‘Trail Hunting’ to go under the microscope

Cheshire West and Chester Council has announced plans to set up a cross-party group to examine ‘trail hunting’ in detail. The move has been heavily criticised by a number of Conservatives on the group (apparently because they appear to think the Council can only concentrate on one thing at a time), but – reaching for the pro-hunt lobbyist playbook – has been welcomed by the pro-hunt lobby group ‘Countryside Alliance’: they are quoted in the report below saying that, “the local rural and trail hunting communities would hope to be able to provide input for this group to maintain balance and ensure it is not driven by prejudice”. The CA are evidently trying to appear ‘reasonable’ (a bit difficult after 15 years of slamming the Hunting Act and denigrating the many pro-wildlife members of those same rural communities). They may think that’s the clever option, but as they may learn, once statements have been put on the record they can come back and bite you. If “the local rural and trail hunting communities” were to detail exactly what they do (or more importantly list exactly what they know that they can and can’t do under the Hunting Act), it would be extremely hard to defend themselves if they were then subsequently caught out hunting again. The CA may just be giving local hunts enough rope to hang themselves with…

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Interesting parallels

Last night the world watched in astonishment as a mob, whipped up by a sitting President, vandalised the seat of power in the heart of Washington. Talking about US politics is generally outside the purview of this site – though Trump’s trashing of environmental protections has featured several times – but there are interesting parallels here with an issue we do talk about a great deal: fox hunting, and in this case specifically ongoing claims that the Hunting Act is undemocratic (so in practice can simply be ignored) and the threatening behaviour of some hunt followers (which has never been properly reined in by hunting’s elite). Hunts would prefer a ‘what happens in the countryside stays in the countryside’ dynamic, but that’s not how the world works anymore. Routine use of mobile phones, of cc TV, and increasingly of drones, is capturing more and more incidents of fox hunting and acts of aggression. Lawbreaking by hunts and the violence that follows them around has now been covered widely by everyone from bloggers and social media influencers to mainstream media journalists. It is vehemently opposed by the public, and there is no evidence whatsoever that the neutral observer seeing the cruelty, illegality and violence of fox hunting is ever converted into a passionate pro-hunt supporter. The flow is one way.

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Kimblewick | Police investigate claims of illegal fox hunting

A few days ago the notorious Kimblewick Hunt were filmed on cctv cameras killing a fox on a private estate. The footage – boosted by an interview with the property owners by ITV News reporter Rupert Evelyn – was taken from a number of angles and is unequivocal. The Hunt (of course) made the usual noises – sorry, out of control, nothing to do with us guv – though, as we noted two days ago, one of the huntsman involved seemed unconcerned, writing all about the joyful ride out on which the fox was killed for the hunting magazine Horse and Hound 9while leaving out the incriminating details of course). ITV News is today reporting that police are investigating the incident “under the Hunting Act (2004) and are appealing for information”. It is pretty bloody obvious from the video what happened here, and if the officers involved are fed up with hunts pissing them about by breaking both the Hunting Act and covid regulations you just never know. We’ll keep our fingers crossed anyway…

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