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We work to expose and end the cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of sport

Video passed to police suggests top public school Eton is hunting illegally

25 January 2016

Potentially incriminating video footage of Eton College’s beagling club has been submitted to the North Yorkshire police by the League Against Cruel Sports.   The material appears to show Britain’s most famous school hunting hares illegally. 

Hunting mammals with dogs has been illegal for more than 10 years.  Yet footage taken by the League Against Cruel Sports’ undercover investigators clearly shows a hare being pursued by the Eton College beagles.                                 

The video shows the hare fleeing from the dogs after hunt staff and supporters are heard discussing its whereabouts.  The Eton College Beagles’ hunt staff – identifiable by their distinctive uniform of brown velvet jackets - urge the beagles on and make no efforts to call the dogs off.  

Tom Quinn, Campaigns Director for League Against Cruel Sports said:  “The North Yorkshire police will be examining footage that appears to shows the prolonged chase of a hare by the Eton beagles. Could Britain’s top public school be hunting despite it being very cruel and against the law? 

“Since the hunting ban was introduced, hare hunts use a variety of excuses for their continued existence.  Having traditionally hunted hares, they now tend to claim that they are rabbit hunting, trail hunting or even just exercising the dogs in a bid to sanitise their activity.  But it doesn’t seem that’s what they’re doing in this video”.                                                                                     

“Eton College has a proud history of teaching many of our leaders in politics, business, the arts and many other fields. I am sure that Eton would want to ensure those future leaders are respecting the law at all times.”

“We urge the North Yorkshire police to investigate this matter without delay and call upon Simon Henderson, Head Master of Eton College, to carry out an internal enquiry”.

Following a tip-off, League Against Cruel Sports investigators filmed the Eton College Beagles at Buttercrambe in Aldby Park, North Yorkshire during the half-term holidays on Tuesday 27th October. It is likely they were there with permission from the landowner.   

Nine out of ten people in the UK want the ban on hare hunting to remain. Brown hare numbers in Britain have declined by 80% since the 1880s and they are now a conservation priority in the UK.  Before the hunting ban was introduced, hares could be hunted with packs of beagles and the hunt staff would typically follow on foot.

The hare hunting season would run from September or October, depending on the type of pack used, until March. Hares are reluctant to leave their territory and don't venture onto new ground and as a result, hare hunting normally takes place in a limited area of the country, of not more than one or two miles square.

Hares spend their lives above ground so do not seek refuge underground like foxes or mink when being hunted. If the hare does not manage to escape the hounds it will eventually tire and the hounds, with their superior stamina, will catch up and kill the hare.

The chase can last up to 90 minutes before the hare is finally killed by the hounds.

-  Ends –

Please contact the League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email press@league.org.uk for any image or comment requests

League Against Cruel Sports is a registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (SC045533) that brings together people who care about animals. Like the majority of the public, we believe that cruelty to animals in the name of sport has no place in modern society. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk