Royal Artillery Hunt – a licence to kill

RA Hunt chasing a fox
Warning: Contains Graphic Images

On Saturday (29th October 2022), the Royal Artillery Hunt killed a fox on Ministry of Defence (MOD) land, pictured below by Moonraker Hunt Sabs who were present. This was at the opening meet of the season, at Larkhill Garrison on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

This comes nearly a year to the day that the huntsman of the Royal Artillery Hunt, Charles Carter, was filmed hunting a fox at the very same meet.

Salisbury Plains Monitors and a member of Wiltshire Hunt Sabs were present, and they filmed Carter riding down a track behind a fox, blowing his hunting horn, with shouts of ‘on on on’ heard, to encourage hounds to follow.

The footage (some of which can be seen here) was passed on to MOD Police, who subsequently investigated Carter under section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004, before passing the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service who made the decision to prosecute.

However, the prosecution was ‘discontinued due to a legal technicality’ as it was submitted to Swindon Magistrates Court a day late due to it being a bank holiday weekend.

RA Hunt chasing a fox

The Royal Artillery Hunt is one of around 20 hunts across the UK that apply for licences to hunt on MOD land, mainly training ranges such as the Salisbury Plain where this occurred.

This is not an isolated incident. Hunt saboteurs and monitors have recorded a long list of incidents of hunting, violence, licence breaches on MOD land.

In the few weeks surrounding this, a number of notable incidents of illegal hunting, trespass and violence involving this hunt alone took place:

  • 23rd October 2021: Monitors filmed the hunt chasing 2 foxes. Wiltshire Police investigated, but took no further action as the hunt claimed they had ‘laid a trail’
  • 30th October 2021: The incident referred to. Huntsman Charles Carter is seen riding after a fox and blowing his hunting horn to encourage hounds to give chase. This was investigated by MOD Police and the CPS decided to prosecute, but it was discontinued due to a legal timing technicality.
  • 13th November 2021: Royal Artillery hounds chase a fox. This was witnessed by MOD Police who told the hunt to pack up. The police left and the hunt continued.
  • 20th November 2021: the hunt trespassed on an ancient monument and English Heritage site, White Horse Burial Mound. English Heritage and Wiltshire Police raised this with the hunt.
  • 4th December 2021: hounds ‘riot’ and chase 2 deer across a public road, endangering road users.
  • 24th December 2021: the hunt kill a fox. Monitors were present but were too far away to prevent the kill. They retrieved part of the body and later found the rest pushed into undergrowth. The hunt claimed the monitors picked up roadkill, but later admitted to killing the fox in an MOD ‘accident report’- a requirement of their licence agreement.
  • 27th December 2021: the hunt kill another fox. Surrey Hunt Sabs retrieve the body but are set upon by regular supporters of the hunt, Terry Gover forcibly took the body of the fox from sabs, and Hayden Gover assaulted a sab and stole a hunting horn. He was given a fine and a police caution for this incident. The CPS decided not to prosecute for illegal hunting, as the hunt claimed a trail was laid. However video evidence proves no attempt was made by the hunt to stop the hounds.

Despite all of this, the MOD is STILL granting licences to this hunt and others, and under the guise of ‘trail hunting’ they are still chasing and killing wildlife.

When these incidents and many more have been reported to the MOD by members of the public, monitors and sabs, they have been met with a wall of silence from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the body responsible for managing the MOD estate and dealing with ‘trail hunting’ licences.

On top of this, 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.

Hunt saboteurs will continue to save wildlife and to expose hunts operating on MOD land. We are calling on Alex Chalk, the newly appointed Minister of State for Defence Procurement (responsible for the MOD estate, environment and sustainability) to break the cycle and stop issuing hunters with licences to kill.

Help stop hunting on MOD land!

  • Support hunt sabs
  • Write to the MOD to tell them to stop giving hunts a licence to kill on public land!

Copy and paste the email below and send it to this address:

Please keep correspondence polite and related to the issue at hand, but do tailor the email to include anything else you feel is relevant.

Subject: Hunting on MOD land

Dear Mr Chalk,

I am writing to draw your attention to yet another fox that has been killed by a hunt on Ministry Of Defence land.

On 29th October 2022, the Royal Artillery Hunt killed a fox after meeting at Larkhill Garrison.

This comes almost a year to the day after hunt monitors filmed huntsman, Charles Carter, riding after a fox and blowing his hunting horn for hounds to give chase, at the same location. The MOD Police investigated this footage and passed it onto the Crown Prosecution Service, who in turn decided to prosecute under the Hunting Act 2004, with the case only avoiding being heard in court due to a legal timing technicality.

These incidents have not happened in isolation. In December 2021, anti-hunt activists were present when the hunt killed two more foxes on the Salisbury Plain Training Area. Other incidents involving this hunt can be seen listed here.

By granting licences for hunts to use MOD land, including the Royal Artillery Hunt who have recently been recorded killing wild animals on multiple occasions, I believe the Ministry is allowing hunters who continuously flout the law to act with impunity, and undermining the authority and public trust in the department.

Last year the MOD spent over £120,000 refurbishing the Royal Artillery’s hunting kennels. Our public finances, especially during the current domestic economic challenges and with ongoing conflict in Europe, should not be spent on maintaining buildings and facilities, and granting licences to organisations or individuals who believe themselves to be above the law.

‘Trail hunting’ is being used as a smokescreen for hunts to pursue and kill wildlife on MOD land, publicly owned land. This has to stop! I implore you to follow the example of Forestry England, the National Trust and several of our other largest landowners and stop issuing ‘trail hunt’ licences and to ban hunts from operating on MOD land, and I await your action on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Picture credits: Salisbury Plain Monitors, Wiltshire Hunt Sabs, Surrey Hunt Sabs, Moonraker Hunt Sabs

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