Judge Cooper today announced that the Fitzwilliam hunt had failed to overturn their conviction for illegal hunting that they received in April 2018. Their appeal was heard at Cambridge Crown Court two weeks ago but the Fitzwilliam huntsman George Adams was unsuccessful in claiming he'd hunted within the law by flushing a fox to be killed by a bird of prey.
The case was brought using video evidence gathered by Beds and Bucks hunt sabs who filmed the kill. The appeal court upheld the original conviction despite attempts by the defence to discredit witnesses and ambushing the court with last minute legal claims and the questionable addition of their own so-called expert witness, a computer forensics expert with no background in animal sciences.
We hope this finally signals the end of the Bird of Prey or Falconry exemption within the Hunting Act. Other hunts which use this loophole will now have to reconsider their options as they will no longer be considered to be taking part in exempt hunting just by having someone with a bird of prey present. The use of birds of prey alongside hunting with hounds is not, and never was falconry. There are serious welfare issues for the raptors used in this manner alongside the abhorrent cruelty involved in setting 1 or 30 animals against another.
Judge Cooper, in summing up stated: “Something significant" must change in the planning and training of the hounds and the characteristics of hunts in the future if they don't want to be charged with illegal hunting”.
We will continue to actively target all hunts in an effort to stop their abuse of wildlife with all and every means at our disposal. The Hunting Act is in desperate need of strengthening, all the loopholes should be closed and hunting with dogs finally consigned to history. We will continue to work towards that end but in the meantime you will find us defending our wildlife in the fields no matter what violence, abuse and intimidation we face.