The Blean Beagles – a Kent-based hare hunt – has closed down following pressure from local hunt saboteurs. The Blean claims to have ‘merged’ with a neighbouring pack to become the Downland Beagles – but this is a merger in name only. The reality is there were two hare hunts, and now there is one.
This is a victory for Kent Hunt Sabs, who take up the story below:
“They say good things come to those who wait, and, in the case of the Blean Beagles, that couldn’t be more true. We now have confirmation that the Blean Beagles are to amalgamate with the Brighton, Storrington, Surrey & North Sussex Beagles. Up until 2013, this hare hunt was not really on Kent sab’s radar, we had always contented ourselves with sabbing the nearer Wye Beagles – until we helped them fold!
The Blean Beagles used to be kennelled with the West Street & Tickham Hunt at Norton but had moved. Unfortunately, no one knew where, so they had a free hand to go about killing hares uninterrupted. Then we got a tip off that there was a hunt kennels near Doddington. We thought this was where the foxhunt had been hiding but – to our surprise – when tiny beagle heads peeped over the kennel walls, Kent sabs knew we finally had them. An old meet card from 1995 was the only thing we had to go on for info – but what a gem it was!
We established that the Boxing Day meet at Faversham was still held, so we organised a protest and that was the end of that! More interesting was the name of those involved, a Mr M Bax. He was a former huntsman and, at that point, still master of the Blean Beagles. He was also the chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust, chairman of the advisory group for rural crime at Kent police and High Sheriff of Kent – talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing! When this story got out it got a great deal of publicity to our cause and heaped a great deal of pressure on this hunt.
Topped off with the pressure from our group’s frequent attempts to catch them hunting, the burden on the huntsman was ramped up. With the hunt going further underground, no new recruits meant that the workload was firmly on the shoulders of the huntsman. The last couple of seasons really must have been a reality check for this huntsman when we managed to get the police to pull him over and quiz him about illegal hunting.
Every meet we attended or heard about was reported to the rural crime team and even the landowner of one meet was visited by the police, losing the hunt a valuable meet. The huntsman’s house is up for sale and the kennels now resemble a building site – apparently the hounds were taken away a week or two ago. To what fate we have no idea, but the amalgamation means one less pack of beagles chasing hares, which is, of course, good news. As for the hunting area of this newly-amalgamated hunt, we find it hard to believe it can cover an area from west Sussex to the tip of Kent effectively.
It is more than likely that the last beagle pack based in Kent, the Bolebroke Beagles, will pick over the bones of most of its hunting country. Whatever the case, Kent sabs will be keeping its ear to the ground for any hare hunting, wherever they come from.”
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