Investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports have filmed riders from the Devon and Somerset Staghounds chasing and cracking a whip over a deer’s head during a hunt.

The footage taken on Exmoor last Thursday shows sickening scenes of animal cruelty by the riders who chase an exhausted stag, surrounding it and tormenting it, in a bid to either hold it down and shoot it or steer it to where it could be shot.

The deer is seen hurtling across a road to escape the riders despite the screams and hollering of hunt supporters trying to head it off. The stag is believed to have been shot shortly afterwards.

Andy Knott, League Against Cruel Sports Chief Executive, said:

“It’s shocking that stags are still being hunted today despite the ban on hunting with dogs which came into force 15 years ago.

"This is animal cruelty at its most shocking. The stag is clearly exhausted and suffering. It would have been running for miles. The film shows the hunt cracking a whip over its head, urging it on while baying supporters stand in the road to harass and confuse the stag some more to prevent it from escaping. All of this just so they can drag out the chase and the stag’s suffering for longer.

“The blatant cruelty of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds’ riders and supporters will shock and horrify the vast majority of the British public. This barbaric practice must be outlawed for good.”

The Devon and Somerset Staghounds hunt on Exmoor involved between 30-40 riders and 70-100 vehicles with hunt supporters despite the restrictions on gatherings due to Covid-19.

The Devon and Somerset Staghounds recently received a taxpayer-backed £50,000 Government coronavirus loan and a £10,000 small business grant by the local district council.

The Devon and Somerset Staghounds meet three times a week and are the largest of three deer hunts operating in the west country.

Andy added:

“There can be no place for this type of animal cruelty in the English countryside and the Government needs to step in and take the measures to end it once and for all.

"We know that deer was later killed. That they are pursuing it to make sport – to enjoy the chase – is clearly a very cruel practice which shouldn't be going on in 2020. Members of the public will be hugely saddened and shocked by the cruelty of what is on display here."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).