HSA News Release 19th January 2009
Violence and lawbreaking has returned to the countryside in 2009 as fox hunts continue to hunt and kill in spite of the hunt ban, and hunt supporters resort to violence and theft in order to protect the lawbreakers.
All hunts get extra media attention on Boxing Day and they tend to be on their very best behaviour, but once the spotlight it off it’s only hunt saboteurs and hunt monitors who witness what’s really happening.
At the Avon Vale Fox Hunt on 27th December, seven Hunt Saboteurs were in attendance to investigate claims of illegal hunting. Before they were able to unpack their cameras and start to gain evidence of law breaking, they were attacked by up to 15 armed men wearing balaclavas. The assailants broke a camcorder and stole the batteries before setting about the group. When police were called four times, one officer eventually arrived who seemed unconcerned about investigating the allegations of assault and theft.
Then on 1st January 2009 a hunt monitor was attacked while taking photos of the West Of Yore hunt killing a fox near Thirsk in Yorkshire. The hunt supporter stole her camera and stamped on it.
Saturday 3rd January saw the Essex and Suffolk Fox hunt chasing at least six foxes in one day around Semer, near Hadleigh in Suffolk. Most of them escaped with the help of saboteurs, but late in the day one went to ground, and saboteurs duly sat on the hole to prevent what they saw as an illegal dig out. The digging out and shooting of foxes is permitted under the Hunting Act 2004 only under certain conditions. The police appeared happy that the fox would be killed to protect birds, despite them being in the middle of a field with no evidence of any nearby pheasants or other birds. Legal advice also suggests that the ‘Game Bird exemption’ should only apply while birds bred for shooting are confined prior to the beginning of the shooting season in October. The saboteurs were duly arrested and dig out allowed to go ahead.
Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association said: “Usual service appears to have commenced in the countryside. Boxing Day is just a big PR exercise for the hunts and the Countryside Alliance, and when media attention is turned elsewhere they get back to what they like to do best – torturing and killing wildlife with blatant disregard for the law of the land. The police have little interest in the Hunting Act, as convictions are so hard to achieve, so the only ones there to help the protected fox survive are hunt saboteurs and monitors, who have to run the gauntlet of violence from the hunts themselves, along with their supporters.
“The law needs strengthening, with the loopholes removed, and a recklessness clause added, so that what parliament intended becomes a reality. At the moment there appears t be no law and order in the countryside.
“Hunt saboteurs are still working hard to protect animals from hunters, and at the moment we are all that is standing between life and a horrible death for creatures apparently protected by the law.”
The HSA was set up in 1963 and has over 40 years experience of getting between the hunters and their quarry.