HSA news release 17th November 2001
Hunt Saboteurs Association letter to DEFRA
16th November 2001
Ms Patricia Schofield
1A Page Street
London SW1P 4PQ
Dear Ms Schofield
I write to advise you of the comments of the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) on the Government’s proposals to allow the resumption of hunting with hounds from the 17th December, following the outcome of the Veterinary Risk Assessment report.
The HSA was appalled, but unfortunately not surprised, to learn that the Government proposes to allow the resumption of hunting with hounds (and by this we mean any type of hunting with dogs, and make no distinction between the three types referred to by DEFRA) before the whole of the UK is declared Foot and Mouth Disease free. We believe that this seriously misguided decision was reached following pressure from organisations representing hunting interests, with the main instigator highly likely to be the Countryside Alliance, and that the decisions can never be in the best interest of the countryside.
We do not simply object to the decision to resume hunting simply as traditional opponents of hunting, but from the knowledge of hunt activities gained from almost 40 years attending, monitoring and sabotaging hunt meets. In brief, our arguments against the resumption of hunting prior to the UK being free of FMD are as follows:-
Hunts are unable to realistically control the ‘hunting area’ – Despite the proposed licence restrictions asking for maps of the hunt country, and for precautions such as ‘buffer zones’ to avoid crossing from a FMD county to an At/High Risk county, hunters have proved time and time again that they are unable to control hounds once they are on the scent of the fox or hare. The term ‘riot’ is a familiar term amongst the hunting fraternity, and not without good reason – once the hounds are on the scent of the hunted animal they do not care for pre-planned routes, ‘buffer zones’, the huntsman’s calls or disinfected feet! Incidents of hounds causing havoc by trespassing on busy roads, railways and private property have consistently shown that a huntsman can never be 100% in control of his hounds, and as such a real risk exists of hounds and horses helping to spread FMD.
- In the same way that hounds do not care for pre-planned routes, they often do not care which animal they hunt, and the term ‘riot’ can also be applied to hounds who chase an animal other than that intended. As such it should be a real concern to DEFRA that hounds are not only likely to disturb deer, but may also hunt them after ‘rioting’ from the correct quarry. This of course has serious implications as deer can not only carry FMD, but are susceptible to it. The risk of spreading FMD this way surely warrants more concern than asking the hunt's ‘best endeavour’ to disturb deer as little as possible?
- The HSA, like many other anti-hunt organisations, has recorded numerous incidents of hunts blatantly failing to abide by their own scant codes of conduct. In light of this we find it beyond belief that you have effectively left the policing of restrictions up to the hunters themselves, through the appointment of the MFHA to act as an ‘independent assessor’ in respect of licence conditions. How likely is it that a body in charge of the people it is sent to police will report any lapses with all the bad press this could attract, when the wider issue of a hunt ban hangs over them? And what of unregistered packs, or indeed hare hunts (which are regulated by the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles rather than the Master of Foxhound Association?)
- Your failure to consider the involvement of hunt protestors, whether actual hunt saboteurs who by their very nature will be present with the hunt in the hunting field, or hunt monitors who watch the hunt from the road and footpaths is indicative of your failure to understand the wider hunting issue. Hunt saboteurs will always endeavour to sabotage hunts as and when they take place, and this remains the case once hunting is resumed, as indeed it has been for almost 40 years. Despite this you have failed to even consider the consequences of our presence (and this is not the first time we have been so spectacularly ignored, as the Government failed to invite us to make submissions to the Burns Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs until we complained!). Had the HSA been consulted on this matter we could have advised of this potential problem from the outset, and despite the lack of consultation we are stating categorically now that this situation will arise.
I trust that the above comments are self-explanatory, but should you require any further information and have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on 07961 113084. A copy of this letter has been passed to our press contacts, as we believe that DEFRA’s current proposals concerning the resumption of hunting prior to the UK being declared FMD free are seriously flawed, and that the general public has the right to access this information.
Dawn Preston (Ms)
Press Officer - HSA
Hunt Sabs to disinfect the countryside!
Despite being completely overlooked by the government's veterinary risk assessment (to allow hunting to restart), Hunt Saboteurs are to offer their experience and knowledge of the countryside to help disinfect areas where hunts will be chasing the nation's wildlife to exhaustion and death.
The HSA's press officer, Dawn Preston explained: "we know from nearly 40 years of hunt sabotage that hunts follow virtually the same routes year after year from the same meets, so we thought 'why don't we use our knowledge and experience in the hunting field to disinfect their path for them?'. This would help hunts stay in line with the DEFRA rules that permit hunting under restriction, and provide a service to the farmer by decreasing the risk of FMD spreading due to hounds and riders charging around his/her land."
She continued "the fact that disinfectant is also known to be a very effective scent duller and would mask the scent of the fox or hare they were chasing couldn't be helped! Our tactical approach to hunt sabotage needs little amendment, as the disinfectant would simply replace the harmless citronella oil or garlic mix spray that we normally use - and we already have the people to deal with its application!"
The HSA believes that DEFRA have chosen to ignore the presence of anti-hunt protestors at hunt meets, failed completely to consult with the HSA on the matter of the resumption of hunting, and have as yet failed to respond to our letter setting out our real concerns on the matter. Despite this failure on behalf of the Government, hunters now seem intent on blaming hunt saboteurs for any problems once hunting does resume. Funny how they spend the rest of the year saying how ineffectual we are.
On her website, fanatical Australian hunter Janet George who claims to 'speak for the countryside' is now openly advocating violence towards Hunt Saboteurs. In her latest rant against the government, sabs (and basically anyone who doesn't kill things 6 days a week) she encourages 'farmers' and 'stewards' to hold down and spray sabs with disinfectant 'from head to toe' .
If this does happen, we doubt sabs will take it lying down. Still, we are sure the hunt officials will note it (as they are required to) as an 'unusual event during the hunt' and it will make an interesting report for DEFRA on what hunters are really like.
‘Hunts should resolve to stop killing hounds!’ say Hunt Saboteurs
The Hunt Saboteurs Association today called on all hunts to make a New Years Resolution to end the senseless slaughter of dogs used for hunting. It is common practice for hunts to put down hunting dogs after 6 or 7 seasons of hunting despite the fact that the animals could live naturally for around another 5 years, and each season many hounds are simply killed following injury or accident.
The call comes after the latest incident where a hound from the South Devon Foxhounds was shot on Boxing Day after breaking its leg, despite offers from hunt saboteurs present to take the animal off the hunt and deal with its veterinary treatment and recovery. The hunt met at Poundsgate on Dartmoor, near Newton Abbot, Devon on Boxing Day and hunt saboteurs were present with them throughout. One saboteur overheard the huntsman saying to another follower that one hound was to be taken back to the kennels and shot, and indeed this did happen, despite the offers from saboteurs to take the animal and deal with its recovery.
Dawn Preston, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated ‘This is a pitiful example of how the lives of the hounds are regarded as totally expendable by the hunt. It doesn’t matter to the hunting fraternity whether the animal concerned is a fox or hound – at the end of the day they use them for a purpose and have no concern for their welfare. Hunt saboteurs often witness such needless waste of life as they are actually in the field with the hunts when incidents occur. For example we have reported incidents in the past of hounds being killed on railways lines, drowning in reservoirs after falling through ice, and even an incident of a beagle being strangled to death after getting caught in a snare. Had we not been present such horrific incidents would pass by unheard of, as the hunts themselves certainly wouldn’t admit to them.’
She continued ‘The saboteurs made it clear in this latest incident that they were willing to take the hound from the hunt and deal with its treatment, recovery and re-homing – however the huntsman refused point blank to consider this, choosing instead to simply end the life of what was probably a loyal and quite young dog. We know that hunting hounds can successfully be re-homed – the hunts however will never admit this as it blows one of their emotive arguments against a hunt ban out of the water – that all hunting hounds would have to be destroyed once a ban is brought in. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – hunting hounds can be re-homed, and when the hunt ban comes we will endeavour to find each and every hound a new home. Unfortunately the hunts will never accept this fact, and instead will no doubt continue to reward the loyalty and dedication of their hounds with a bullet in the head.'
Same Bloodsport, Same Attitude, Different Day!
Prince William (Monday) at the Duke of Beaufort FH to Photographer before riding at him: "F***ing Piss Off!"
The violent attitude of foxhunters has already started to rear its ugly head despite the fact that the hunting season is only a few weeks old. Several incidents over the last week, one including Prince 'not nice, but dim' William, give the lie to the hunters' claim that "confrontation is not the country way". Attacks and intimidation against hunt saboteurs have been reported from the North West, down through Oxford and Northamptonshire to the South East.
Farmer (Tuesday) at the CL&C Foxhounds to sabs before attacking them with an iron bar: "You're going to get the f***ing kicking of your life!"
Violence broke out once again yesterday on the Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray FH as West Sussex Wildlife Protection activists were attacked by hunt supporters wielding iron bars as they attempted to film the hunt packing up near Midhurst, West Sussex.
The previous week, when the hunt were the only one known to be hunting in the South of England on a Saturday, the most serious offence the police could find to deal with was the alleged absence of DTI licences for CB radios some of the sabs were using. With over 40 hunt saboteurs in attendance, no kills and no violence, the hunt appear to have taken their revenge yesterday.
The four WSWP activists were set upon by CLC supporters armed with iron bars and were forcibly prevented from reaching the safety of a nearby road. Dramatic footage taken by WSWP (stills from the video shown here) shows the supporters attempting to seize the group's video cameras, threatening to give activists the "f**king kicking of your life", and throwing one into a ditch. Throughout the 15 minute incident the CLC supporters threatened and used violence.
One camera is reported to have been damaged in the incident. It comes less than a fortnight after three hunt supporters on the notorious adjacent Crawley & Horsham FH were arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage following an incident during which a hunt monitors' camera was smashed and an anti hunt protester injured. Nicolas Soames MP - so keen to accuse anti hunt campaigners of violence - was seen scuttling away from the scene. The Chiddingfold FH was recently exposed for breaching FMD regulations and is being investigated by DEFRA.
During the sabotage of the Grafton foxhunt in Northamptonshire earlier in the new year, saboteurs split into two groups to stop the Bicester with Whaddon Chase foxhunt also killing. The two hunts were in very close proximity on the day and after one group of sabs made towards the pack of screaming hounds, they realised they had found a different hunt.
The Bicester see themselves as the darlings of the media, but when there are no cameras around, they are one of the nastiest hunts in the South. They count Baroness Mallalieu and Michael Heseltine's daughter as riders, but have also had convicted violent criminals in their ranks. Two hunt supporters were jailed several years ago for their part in an attack with a quad bike which left a sab with serious spinal injuries. Of the sabs attacked at the hunt last week, one of them received head injuries and broken glasses after being punched in the head. Others were threatened by supporters with alsatian dogs.
Video footage of the Sussex incident has been passed to Sussex police. Breath not being held. On previous experience, there would have been no point involving Northamptonshire police!
Dirty Tricks - Hunt Saboteurs Demand an Apology
Sloppy Journalism, Malicious Stories and Short Memories
As former JP, Jonathan Wilkes, is sentenced to 5 years in jail for making bombs that were "specifically designed to maim and kill", the Hunt Saboteurs Association demands an apology for being mischievously connected with the case by several newspapers, the police and the military.
The devices were left in woods in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire in August 2000. At the time Geoffrey Gibbs of The Guardian ran a story titled "Bomb linked to anti-hunt activists" which claimed that hunt saboteurs could be responsible for the devices. The report included the quote "A spokeswoman for 721 Explosives Ordnance Depot at Ashchurch said police had indicated they could not rule out hunt saboteurs."
Spokesman for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, Nathan Brown, stated "We demand public apologies from the Explosives Ordnance Depot for spreading this malicious misinformation, Gloucestershire police for not withdrawing or denying the claim and The Guardian and local newspapers for running the story without even approaching us for a comment."
He explained "The Hunt Saboteurs Association has represented hunt saboteurs in this country for 40 years. We are sick of being ignored by the media and tired of being misrepresented as violent. Hunt saboteurs use non-violent tactics and intelligence to outwit huntsmen in pursuit of wildlife. We save the lives of hundreds of hunted animals every year. To suggest that we would wish to endanger life is a grave insult."
The HSA would like to know why, when Hunt Saboteurs were no more likely to have planted the devices than the Chief Constable or Coco the Clown, that we were the only specific group vilified by the media in relation to this case. Even when it emerged the main suspect in the case was an Oxfordshire magistrate, the slur cast on the HSA was not withdrawn.
- Link to the original Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/aug/22/hunting.ruralaffairs
- The Wilkes story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/jan/08/stevenmorris
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