Hunting on MOD land – “anyone else would be banned for this behaviour.”

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In October, we reported that the Royal Artillery Hunt just killed a fox at their opening meet, a year on from their huntsman being filmed chasing a fox for which he narrowly avoided prosecution.

This all happened on the Salisbury Plain Training Area, publicly owned Ministry Of Defence land, along with a whole host of other incidents that you can see listed in that web piece.

Since then, things have taken another turn.

Today, in emails released by the MOD following a Freedom of Information request, the Royal Artillery Hunt’s disregard for other users of the Plain, the MOD licensing process and the MOD staff working on the Plain has become even more apparent.

They show that in an attempt to stop increasingly effective sabs from following them, they were booking areas of the Plain that they never intended to use as a ‘decoy.’

According to internal emails within the MOD, the hunt “lied to Range Control,” “abused the allocations process,” denied others use of the areas and wasted staff time.

The email also urges higher-ups to “meet directly with them rather than us at the front end – who they clearly have no respect for.” And rather damningly states that “any other unit would be banned for this behaviour.”

So why do they continue to get away with it?

Yesterday, head of the MOD, defence secretary Ben Wallace MP, was accused of removing a memorandum of understanding between the MOD and League Against Cruel Sports, whereby the MOD would inform them of where the hunt would take place so they could monitor the hunt for illegal activity. Reasons for this have been described as ‘vague’ and ‘unevidenced.’ Ben Wallace has previously said he supports a repeal of the ban on hunting.

There have been long standing relationships between some hunts and military regiments, with officers taking up positions as masters in a number of hunts, including the Royal Artillery Hunt and the Wiltshire & Infantry Beagles. These are two of approximately twenty hunts across the UK that apply for licences to hunt on MOD land.

Squandering public money?

As well as staff time and resources tied up in licensing, enforcing and dealing with the fall-out of so-called ‘trail hunting’ on MOD land, they are also helping to house the hunt!

In 2021 the MOD spent £121,000 revamping the Royal Artillery Hunt kennels, which are located on the Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, a move criticised by high ranking ex-military officers while there is such widespread disrepair in homes that service families are forced to live in.

At a time of such a squeeze on public finances and heightened threats to national security, it’s scandalous that the MOD is choosing to squander taxpayers money facilitating illegal hunting, a pastime for the privileged outlawed nearly 18 years ago.

What can you do?

  • Email – MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation, who are responsible for licensing hunts, an ask why they are allowing illegal hunting on public land – diosec-parli@mod.gov.uk
  • Social media – share this story and ask @DefenceHQ, @mod_dio and @BenWallaceMP why they are allowing illegal hunting on public land

Please keep correspondence polite and related to the issue at hand

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