The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) was formed in the winter of 1963 and first went into action in South Devon on Boxing Day…
Hunting with hounds was supposed to have been banned in England & Wales in February 2005, and in Scotland, several years earlier. However, now the fuss and media attention has died down, most hunts are carrying on as they did before. The police have never known much about hunting other than how to try to protect it, so we never had much faith in them changing sides.
Hunts around the country are arrogantly continuing their slaughter in the name of sport, in the hope or knowledge that the people in power don’t really care. One of our greatest weapons is now the video camera – enough instances of hunts breaking the law caught on camera and hopefully not even the blinkered politicians will be able to ignore it. MiniDV camcorders cost as little as £250 and can be adapted to take a covert pinhole camera so no-one at the hunt need even know you are filming.
Hunt saboteurs, after holding back to see if the law would work will now seek to take action where it counts – in the killing fields. We are experienced in using non-violent direct action tactics to save the lives of thousands of hunted animals every season. From using hunting horns and voice calls to run off with the hounds at foxhunts, to standing in front of the shooting butts on the grouse moors, to wading through the rivers at minkhunts, wherever animals are being hunted for fun, hunt saboteurs will be there, protecting our wildlife from the “sportsmen” who get their kicks from killing.
It is no small measure of our effectiveness and the power of the people who’s ‘sport’ we seek to affect and their friends, that has seen our relatively small number subjected to intense law-enforcement scrutiny and vilification in parliament and the media. We have seen laws brought in at the behest of the powerful pro-hunting lobby almost at the drop of a hat over the last 20 years.
In the early days of Hunt Sabotage, hunts that regularly found themselves the subject of attention from Saboteurs would generally resort to the most obvious and basic tactic of physical intimidation and attack to deter Saboteurs. When this failed to work, the police and the courts were brought into play. These initiatives have failed due to a lack of basic understanding of our reasons for existing – that we believe the hunting of a wild animal for sport to be inherently wrong, and as such we will do our utmost to prevent it happening, regardless of the attacks we face.
In our 57 years of existence, Hunt Saboteurs have experienced everything from the ancient (c1361) Breach of the Peace laws to the Prevention of Terrorism Act! What started off as a worrying threat for the early Saboteurs in the mid 1960’s was (as have been all the laws since) confronted and ultimately rendered ineffective when it was being abused. The use (and abuse) of the law has been one of the constant factors in Hunt Sabotage over the years.
Over the years, we found our best weapons against the abuse of existing laws, and the introduction of new ones have been to ignore them in the field and fight them in the courts. For example, in 1986, the Conservatives brought in a new Public Order Act with sections specifically to “curtail the activities of Hunt Saboteurs”. In fact, Section 5 as it became known proved to be the biggest fundraiser and source of overseas holidays Hunt Saboteurs have ever known! Despite suffering heavily at the start of the 1987/88 hunting season in terms of Saboteurs arrested, subsequent court cases proved to be less of a success for the prosecutors. The next 3 years saw civil cases brought by groups of Saboteurs detained in ‘mass arrests’, run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation and nearly a million pounds in defence costs.
1994 saw the appearance of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Once again Hunt Saboteurs were singled out for special mention in the drafting of the law, despite our unchanging numbers and tactics. A tribute to our doggedness perhaps?! Certain police forces around the country were picked as trial areas to introduce the more extreme interpretations of the various sections, mainly Northamptonshire, Essex, Sussex, Northumberland and Yorkshire.
In the ensuing years, all the above police forces have seen at least one costly high-profile court case against saboteurs fail as arrogant police officers and complacent prosecutors were trounced by the ‘bunny huggers’ and their lawyers! Sussex police are now almost alone in the country in clinging to the use of the ‘Aggravated Trespass’ clauses of the act. Not coincidentally, they are also one of the biggest spending authorities when it comes to policing hunts, and paying compensation to Hunt Saboteurs for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and assault.
The latest development is that the government, albeit a Labour one this time around, is considering using a catch-all Prevention of Terrorism Act. That it is only Hunt Saboteurs who have been killed by huntsmen, and that the police are the latest victims of assaults by hunt followers would be comical if it weren’t so perverse.
We do what we do – week in, week out, in the frost, snow, rain and mud – with little fuss, and for the most part, it hurts nobody or no thing except the warped sense of fair play that 50 ‘men’ and women get from setting 30 dogs etc on one wild animal.
The overwhelming majority of the British public recognise bloodsports are cruel and abhorrent and over 80% wanted an immediate ban on bloodsports. They have been duped by the hunters and let down by this government. That’s why the animals need people like you – people who care enough to do something positive to save them.
There are local hunt saboteur groups all over the UK, all of which are active at least once a week against the hunts and shoots in their area. Groups need volunteers to work either as activists in the field, saving the hunted animals’ lives directly, or to do the vital background work of fundraising, leafleting, etc. without which no group can function. There will be a hunt saboteur group near you and whatever your age, skills or experience, you will be able to make a crucial contribution to saving animals’ lives.
This weekend, there will be someone trying to torture and kill innocent wild animals for sport within a few miles of where you live. We’re going to be there to stop them…Will you?