I have been taking a few Hunt Crime Watch calls lately, which is an experience in itself, and often a pretty emotional one. You may imagine this to be a straightforward case of taking calls and logging hunt related information. But more often than not, we are talking to people who are deeply upset and intimidated by the actions of their local hunt. So much so, that a lot of callers still wish to remain anonymous for fear of being harassed or extradited from their local community. In any other situation this would be classed as bullying.
I have been working at the League for three years now, and in that time I have spoken to a lot of people about a lot of hunts. The story rarely changes, and to be honest it makes me furious that people can be made to feel so isolated and afraid, hence me needing to get this off my chest in a blog rant.
‘Hunt havoc’ presents itself in a variety of forms. Trespass, property damage, hounds straying in front of cars and trains ,stress and fatalities caused to pets and livestock, just to mention a few. But what is not often talked about is the emotional damage people suffer which wrongfully compromises their quality of life.
For those of you who can relate to this, and feel that hunting is so entrenched in your community that you daren’t speak out, then please let me stress to you that you are not alone. We must remember that the hunting fraternities are a minority, and that 75% of people living in rural areas wish that hunting animals with dogs remains banned.
The hunting community will have you believe that you can not deserve true ‘country living’ status unless you enjoy and take part in the pursuit of killing for sport. This is a negative culture, one that is dated and just not acceptable anymore. There are literally millions of people who love and respect the peace of the countryside without needing to take part in blood sports. Millions who love to observe the surrounding wildlife living as it should without being shot down, trapped or hunted.
We always knew that hunting would not stop over night, but we can certainly help to push things in the right direction when it comes to helping the police with enforcement. In order for us to help the police investigate any wildlife crime, the enquiry needs a high enough priority ranking. This will only happen if the caller is prepared to give their basic personal details, which is why it is so important for people to have the courage to speak up. However, If you really can not, for whatever reason, then any call is better than no call.
Harassment and anti-social behaviour which threaten or compromise your quality of life, are issues which local authorities are starting to take much more seriously. The more we report, the higher up the agenda these issues will become.
If you still feel that you can not reveal your identity, or if you would like to know what else you can do to help then here are a few other suggestions.
• Join your local group – find out if there is an active League local group in your area, if not then there may be enough people in your area to form a new one. This is a great way to join forces, campaign and share information.
• Do you have access to any meet cards in your area? If so please send them to us.
• Report any suspected illegal activity you see to our crimewatch team. You can do this through our online form or by calling 01483 524250.If you are ever in a position to capture video or photographic evidence then this is always of a great help.
• If you would like to become more active then why not become a volunteer monitor?If you are interested then please email us with your contact details.