Hunt saboteurs have disrupted the second day of a secretive, week-long hare killing festival organised by the Somerset-based Ilminster Beagles.
On Tuesday, sabs swung into action as around 30 hunters from the host pack were about to set off. On first sight of sabs, the hunters high-tailed it back to their kennels with one of them commenting, “You’ve done the job, we’re packing up!”
The Ilminster Beagles have invited several other hare-hunting packs to hunt their ‘country’ over the course of this week. Hunt saboteurs from across the region – including specialist spotting teams – were out in force across Devon and Somerset yesterday. However, snow, sabs, or a combination of the two deterred the visiting pack from attending. Sabs will resume operations today to ensure the rest of the festival does not go ahead.
This is the second time the Ilminster Beagles have attempted to organise a hare-hunting festival and the second time it has ended in dismal failure. Their March 2019 event lasted all of 20 minutes, before 50 sabs descended on their opening meet by the Ryeford Chase Bassets.
Hare hunting festivals used to be common across the country, particularly for getting hounds into shape before the start of the main season. Hunt sabs have prioritised sabbing these highly secretive events in recent years and have great success against Alston Hare Week, the Northumberland Beagling Festival, the Severn Vale Visitors Week, and several others.
A sab spokesperson commented from the scene,
“Local people have furnished us with excellent intelligence about this so-called festival, which is due to run for the rest of the week. The fact that the Ilminster Beagles packed up immediately shows they cannot hunt legally – we stopped them on Tuesday, and we’ll stop any other pack foolish enough to travel to this event. Our advice to the packs invited to hunt and kill Devon’s hares is simple: expect us.”