The HSA’s recent exposé of Hunting Office training webinars – which confirm that “trail hunting” is a smokescreen for illegal hunting – is only the latest instance in a long history of deception by the hunting lobby.
In 1978, the otter was saved from extinction by the passing of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. While a couple of otter hunts disbanded, most simply claimed to have switched to hunting American mink (or coypu, in one case). This ruse allowed otter packs to hunt up and down rivers exactly as they had before the ban. Sound familiar?
Then, when mink hunting was banned by the 2004 Hunting Act, the pattern of deceit was repeated. Overnight, mink packs again suddenly switched to a new quarry. This time they were hunting rats…but only those rats that live in otter and mink habitat on the riverbank.
In Scotland, there is a different law, and so a different deception is in place. The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 banned foxhunting by Scotland’s ten mounted fox hunts. However, hunters quickly noted that an exemption in the Act – that hounds can be used to flush the foxes towards guns – could be exploited.
The hunts carried on as exactly as before but made sure to have a few token ‘guns’ in tow to suggest they were flushing foxes. However, when Scottish fox hunts are covertly monitored, foxes are pursued in the open and the ‘guns’ are usually nowhere to be seen.
Even the form of trail hunting exposed in the recent Hunting Office webinars is a new confection. For fifteen years, trail hunting was an almost mystical process, whereby miles of trails were magically laid before the hunt. Hunters used to laugh knowingly that, “The best trail layer is the one you never see.”
With even the police not buying this nonsense anymore, the Hunting Office completely changed their guidance in the webinars exposed by the HSA. Suddenly, trail hunting had to be “overt” – there had to be someone visible with a rag on a string – in total contradiction to the previous 15 years of ‘advice’ from the Hunting Office.
Hunters have never respected laws that seek to restrict their activity. They simply follow their long-established pattern of deceit with ever more ridiculous and transparent lies.