Police body’s fox hunting crime lead admits illegal killing is prolific in UK

A fox in the countryside
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A video recently emerged that appeared to show blatant fox hunting taking place. In the footage, people dug foxes out of their den with the apparent intent to have nearby hounds hunt them.

The individuals pictured in the video are allegedly part of Wiltshire’s Avon Dale hunt. According to ITV‘s correspondent Rupert Evelyn, arrests are coming thick and fast in relation to the incident:

In the wake of the footage, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) lead on fox hunting crime, spoke out on social media. Matt Longman described the deliberate killing of a fox with hounds as illegal, wrong, and “prolific in the UK”.

Read on...

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Fox hunting illegality is prolific

After the video emerged, Longman said he got many requests for comments on it. So comment he did, on social media. The chief superintendent for Plymouth tweeted:

Evelyn, himself a prolific reporter on fox hunting, said that the officer’s admission is notable:

This is because hunts consistently claim that they don’t deliberately kill foxes anymore. Since the Hunting Act 2004 outlawed the practice, they claim that they are continuing their tradition, i.e. dragging hounds around the countryside as a human gang on horseback, without intentional bloodshed. Most hunts insist they lay artificial scent trails for hounds to follow, aka trail hunting.

So, for the NPCC’s lead on fox hunting crime to describe illegal hunting as “prolific” is quite something.

Not one bad apple, but many

The admission isn’t, however, news to hunt saboteurs. Week in, week out, they report on what they say happens in the proverbial (and literal) field. They regularly allege the targeting and killing of wildlife by hunts.

Following the launch of a police investigation into the recent fox hunting footage, and Avon Dale hunt’s expulsion from the British Hound Sports Association, the Hunt Saboteurs Association tweeted:

The association also wrote about the incident and the presence of so-called terriermen in the footage. As the Canary‘s Glen Black has previously explained:

Terriermen are people that join hunts with the task of digging out a fox if they ‘go to ground’, i.e., hide in a hole. As the Crown Prosecution Service itself makes clear, there is “no real role for terriermen” in legal forms of hunting.

Typically, these people force terriers into fox holes to flush the wild mammals out, hence the name. In its post on the incident, the Hunt Saboteurs Association said:

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.

Strengthen the ban

Undoubtedly, hunt saboteurs and all people who care about wildlife are hoping that justice will be served in this instance.

But with a hunting ban full of loopholes and exemptions that are ripe for abuse, true justice won’t be served until national authorities strengthen the ban. Scotland has recently passed a new law that goes a long way towards fixing the flaws in the current legislation. Regardless of the presence of many hunt-loving politicians in the UK parliament, Westminster has no legitimate excuse for not following suit.

Featured image via Julian Dowse / Fox near Bushey Wood, near Southorpe/ Wikimedia, cropped to 770×403, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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