Exmoor is home to one of the highest concentrations of hunts across the UK with dozens of hunts operating in the region. Dunster Castle in Somerset can be regarded as the gateway to Exmoor and the country fair in the grounds of the historic tourist attraction has for many years been a way for the local hunting community to continue to spread the lie that hunting is beneficial to the countryside.

This Wednesday however, they were not the only ones with a message to local people and the farming community. The League teamed up with Somerset Wildlife Crime for a demonstration outside Dunster Country Fair in West Somerset and we couldn’t have chosen a better day to do so. The hot sunny weather with a slight cooling breeze coming off the Bristol Channel was perfect for people to stop and talk to us as they went in to the show and many did.

For visitors, we had a simple message: hunting, and in particular hunting hounds pose a real and significant threat to the countryside and farming communities. For the large proportion of people unaware of the shows links to hunting who instead were there for a relaxing day out this came as quite a shock.

Armed with our new leaflets “Hunting – A major threat to countryside bio-security”, some hi-vis jackets and a few bottles of sun cream we spent a number of hours talking to visitors to the fair about the role hunts plays in spreading diseases around the countryside. For a country show in prime hunting country the response we received was overwhelmingly positive. Many visitors were appalled at the damage hunting hounds cause to the local environment and the millions they cost farmers every year through avoidable the spread of disease to livestock.

Talking to farmers at Dunster Country Show

Hound Shows, such as the one at Dunster Country Fair, are a significant contributor to the spread of disease. With so many hounds from difference packs and different parts of the country gathering together, the spread of disease between packs is almost inevitable. Perhaps more alarming is the risk of diseases being spread to humans who came in to contact with hounds at Dunster Country Fair, particularly young children or older people who have weaker immune systems.

With hunts ignoring basic bio-security measures recommended by all farming organisations whilst simultaneously having hounds rampaging across and defecating in multiple farms every time they leave the kennels, it comes as no surprise that they contribute significantly to the spread of diseases across our countryside and between farms. The League is calling on measures to be taken to significantly reduce the risks of hunting hounds contracting and spreading diseases which cost the farming industry millions each year.