The Avon Vale Hunt have today been kicked out of the British Hound Sports Association, hunting’s ‘governing body,’ after damning footage of hunt staff digging out and throwing foxes to waiting hounds was released yesterday.
Masters were summoned to Gloucestershire today for a hearing following the release of the shocking footage, with the subsequent public outcry leaving the BHSA with no other option than to kick them out.
In footage leaked to the Hunt Saboteurs Association and aired on ITV News yesterday evening, members of the hunt including whipper-in Aaron Fookes and three terriermen, are seen crouching over what looks to be a badger sett, with the excited hounds being held back by hunt master Stuart Radbourne and others.
After an orange terrier – sent into the hole to find and attack the poor fox – is removed, Fookes grabs the fox from the earth, whoops to further excite the hounds, and then throws the poor animal to the pack.
As the hounds close in to savage this first victim, a second terrified fox bolts left from the earth and is pursued by some of the pack. This leads a hunter off-camera to scream excitedly that “There’s a brace!” – the hunting term for a pair of foxes.
As the footage closes, Fookes is seen to stretch out his arms in celebration, before he and Radbourne run to their horses to pursue the second fox.
While there is outrage among the hunting community, much of this is at the fact that the incident was filmed and has since been made public, rather than disgust at the actions shown.
The truth is, this incident is far from exceptional and shows the part that ‘terrier work’ plays in a hunting day. Many hunts have and will continue to do similar when they think they aren’t being watched.
These aren’t a few ‘bad apples.’ Hunting is rotten to its core, and hunting bodies such as the BHSA will never effectively police themselves when at their core they want to repeal the Hunting Act.
As we previously reported, the BHSA is a superficial rebrand of the Hunting Office, the totally discredited organisation made infamous by leaked webinars that advised hunts on how to use ‘trail hunting’ as a smokescreen for illegal hunting, and indeed a number of BHSA board members have their own patchy history regarding hunting and animal welfare.
While we can’t be certain of what comes next for the Avon Vale Hunt, we can be sure that hunt saboteurs and the wider public will not let the hunt, or the individuals involved, get away with this.
Wiltshire Hunt Sabs commented:
“After yesterdays expose on the cruel and barbaric criminal behaviour of this particularly vile hunt, we are not surprised to see their new hunting body double down to scapegoat the Avon Vale hunt staff for what is a regular practice amongst all “trail” hunts. Particularly horrific in this case is the knowledge that one of those foxes would have been a pregnant vixen.
There can be no coming back from this for the hunt or its staff, they have truly exposed trail hunting for the crime that it is. We sincerely hope that the Master of Drag and Blood hounds also take actions against these criminals by suspending them immediately from their mastership and huntsman roles at the Berks & Bucks Draghounds. It’s also fair to say that Wiltshire Police also have blood on their hands here, it’s been almost two decades of enablement and support they have provided to Wiltshire Hunts, and this hunt in particular, to believe they’d get away with this too.“
Unfortunately, despicable acts such as those seen in yesterday’s video will continue on hunts until loopholes of the Hunting Act are strengthened, terrier work on hunts is banned and there’s proper enforcement of the law.