HSA news release 18th December 2003

Saboteurs hope 40th year will be their last Boxing Day protest

Hunt saboteurs will be targeting hunts up and down the country this Boxing Day, which marks the 40th anniversary of the first action by the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA). The sabotage of the South Devon Foxhounds meet at Torquay on Boxing Day 1963 with smoke bombs and hunting horns was such a success that the hunt completely called off the day. Some of the tactics are still in use 40 years on, with hunting horns and mimicry of the huntsman's voice calls still being core activities. A recent innovation has been the "gizmo" - an amplified tape recording of hounds in cry that is used to pull them off the scent of the hunted animal.

Hunt saboteurs will also use covert "pre-meet" methods such as laying false trails, using sprays which cover the scent of hunted foxes and hares or unblocking badger setts previously blocked by hunts. HSA spokesperson Nathan Brown explained "As an organisation, we are not interested in playing numbers games at the hunt meets, which are largely attended by people who don't participate in the hunt itself. One hunt saboteur in the right place at the right time can stop a hunt in its tracks.

"Our main focus is saving lives, so some saboteurs will not attend the meet but will be busy in the area to be hunted. Many hunts will not even realise that they have been sabotaged and put it down to a bad day, but we will know that our activities have saved lives. We hope this will be the last Boxing Day we are needed to save foxes and hares from hunts."

Some saboteur groups will join other anti-hunt protestors on traditional banner demonstrations.

Notes to Editors:-

Saboteurs who have been involved with the HSA since it burst onto the scene as the first 'animal rights' organisation 40 years ago can be made available for interview. Interested journalists wishing to cover the activities of hunt saboteurs can make arrangements to meet their local group through the HSA Press Office contact number.

They need to remember:

  • Not to leave it to the last minute and make arrangements early (Hint - give us the same respect you show the countryside alliance, and unlike the hapless BBC Points West journalist phoning us at 10 to 11 from the meet, you may get a quote you can print!)
  • Hunt saboteurs are there to save lives, not provide a media stunt
  • The terrain covered, largely on foot, will be wet and muddy
  • The hunt lasts all day and does not end at the meet. Traditionally media coverage just focuses on the meet, not the actual hunting and killing that takes place after. Why not try and be different and show what the hunts do after they move off - blocking roads, riding at protestors, digging out or bolting foxes etc
  • It is not just foxhunts who hunt wild animals for fun in this country - Staghunts in the West Country and hare hunts all over the UK will also be out although they are rather less proud of what they do in front of the cameras.