Sabbing The Two Bridges Hunt Club On Dartmoor

Sabbing The Two Bridges Hunt Club On Dartmoor

Sabs from eight different groups joined forces last week to sab the annual Two Bridges Hunt Club meet on Dartmoor.

The Two Bridges Hunt Club was founded almost a century ago by the huntsmen of the Royal Navy and is composed of the four moorland hunts who between them share the job of terrorising Dartmoor’s wildlife all year round: the Mid Devon, South Devon, Dartmoor, and Spooners & West Dartmoor.

Dedicated sab runners keep up with the hunt.

Once a year, the four hunts come together at the junction between their hunt countries – Two Bridges – for a dinner at the Two Bridges Hotel, followed by a joint meet the next day. They take it in turns each year as to who will hunt hounds at this meet and they’re known to criss-cross from one hunt country into another over the course of the day.

These days the Two Bridges Hunt Club have taken to meeting in February to mark the anniversary of the Hunting Act coming into effect and to stick two fingers up at a law that was meant to protect foxes from being hunted for sport. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Hunting Act being passed by parliament.

Sab solidarity to defeat the hunt.

Those who have paid attention to the Right to Roam campaign in recent years will know that there’s been a big focus on public access and the right to wild-camp on Dartmoor. Followers of the campaign may also have noticed that the people who turn up in comments sections on social media and news sites to lambast ramblers and wild-campers for “damaging” Dartmoor’s fragile ecosystem are often the very same people who treat this National Park as a private playground for their favourite bloodsport.

Week in, week out during the hunting season Dartmoor’s four hunts, with their hounds, dozens of riders and sometimes hundreds of car followers, churn up the moor and terrorise its wildlife.

Last Wednesday was no exception. The four hunts had met at the East Dart Hotel in Postbridge, a popular meet of the South Devon Hunt whose turn it was to host that day. Only thirty riders attended. South Devon’s huntsman Joe Emmett initially took hounds into South Devon country, south-east of Postbridge, and within minutes they were seen coursing a very disoriented looking (probably bagged) fox.

Via Riddon Ridge and Yar Tor they then made their way south to Dartmeet before doubling-back towards Bellever Forest and hunting another fox in full view of sabs. Sab teams from multiple groups jumped into action to intervene, despite finding themselves wading knee-deep through bogs and having to make treacherous river crossings!

The soft underbelly: terriermen with terriers in front box followed the hunt.

The second part of the day saw the hunts cross the Postbridge road to the north and draw large patches of gorse around the Powdermills and Higher White Tor where several more foxes were put up and chased. Some sab runners, having by now covered about 30km on foot across the difficult moorland terrain, were thoroughly exhausted by this point. However, sabs’ actions ensured that many foxes got away.

Hunting on Dartmoor will continue while landowners like the Duchy of Cornwall, the Ministry of Defence, Forestry England, Dartmoor National Park and Southwest Water turn a blind eye.

While Dartmoor may look like a protected natural space, the unfortunate reality is that it’s a landscape at the mercy of its large landowners’ indifference to illegal bloodsports.

Dartmoor fox runs for her life.

Devon’s sab groups would like to say a massive thank you to sabs from other groups who made the mid-week trip down to Dartmoor to lend us a hand. Thanks to all groups who attended: Devon County, Plymouth & West Devon, North Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Mendip, South Devon Hunt Sabs and South Devon Animal Rights.

You can support Devon County Hunt Sabs here and Plymouth & West Devon Hunt Sabs here.

Find out how you can get involved with our campaign to strengthen the Hunting Act here.

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