While many foxhunts make Boxing Day their one public meet of the year, the hare-hunting beaglers remain as secretive as ever. On hunting's premier day not a single beagle pack, anywhere in the country, chose to avail themselves of the chance to engage with the public.
However, many hunt sab groups have been busy tracking down their local beagle packs, knowing that they are even more likely than the foxhunts to
be illegally hunting.
As a result, several packs were successfully sabbed over the festive period (including the Colne Valley/Holme Valley, the Old Berkeley, the New Forest
and the Warwickshire); but many more across the country were placed under covert surveillance in a major intelligence-gathering operation designed to ensure the success of future sabbing.
These packs included: the Black Combe who met in Waberthwaite, Cumbria; the Leadon Vale Bassets who met at the Lower Lode Hotel, Gloucester; the Wilts and Infantry who met at the Longs Arms, Steeple Aston and, most revealing of all, the new Severn Vale Beagles who foregathered at the Salutation Inn, Berkeley.
Crucial information, including identification of key personnel and vehicles, was obtained and this will be put to good use in the next phase of the campaign against hare hunting.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “Over 50 different beagle and basset packs have been targeted by hunt saboteurs in the past year and many more are being covertly monitored. The evidence gathered shows that the majority of these packs are hunting illegally and we will continue to make them a focus of our activities.
Hunt Saboteurs Association News Release 30th December 2013
On Saturday December 28th hunt saboteurs from Yorkshire attended a Pony Club meet of the York & Ainsty South Foxhounds at Escrick Park. Three foxes that were deliberately hunted were aided in their escape by the sabs through the course of the day and, as the sun was going down, three terrier men were found just as they were about to finish digging the second fox out of an active badger sett.
The sabs began to obstruct the men from continuing this illegal activity and the situation began to escalate, with about 8-10 more men with spades soon arriving at the scene. One sab was smashed in the head with the pistol the men planned to shoot the fox with and was also knocked down in a field by a hunt pickup truck. The sabs were not deterred by this, fought off the attackers and stood their ground.
On stopping the dig-out the sabs had to prise a terrier from the fox as it had locked on to the fox's face. Sabs then had to help the fox free from the earth as the earth around it had been caved in, leaving only its head exposed. The fox escaped with little visible injury but the terrier's face was badly wounded from fighting the fox. The group are now preparing to prosecute the hunt for their actions and ask Escrick Park to stop facilitating these criminal acts by the hunt and to refuse them access from now on.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “Only two days after Boxing Day we see the real face of fox hunting. Boxing Day is the sanitized, media friendly press stunt that the hunting community use each year to pull the wool over the eyes of the British public. This is the grim reality of what occurs the rest of the time when the media spotlight is elsewhere. Escrick Park are a major supporter of the York and Ainsty South Hunt and are just as guilty as they allow these illegal acts to take place on their land. We call on them to ban the hunt from their estate before they become embroiled in any legal action taken against the hunt.”