Coronavirus may have signalled an early end to the fox hunting season this year, but the blood sport is still rife 15 years after it was banned, according to new figures released today.

National animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has compiled eye-witness reports relating to 485 incidents of suspected illegal fox hunting activity between October and early March. One gruesome report also included a ginger kitten being ripped apart by hunt hounds.

In total, the League received reports of 38 foxes witnessed being killed by the hunts during the past season and 15 reports of highly suspected fox kills.

Backed up by these figures, new polling commissioned by the League and undertaken by Survation shows that more than two thirds of the British public believe hounds still hunt foxes.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Our figures sadly show the shocking extent to which the hunts are still flagrantly chasing and killing foxes despite the fox hunting ban coming into force 15 years ago.

“These figures are based on the intelligence we have gathered throughout the season, and we fear the true figure could be much higher.

“The vast majority of the British people oppose fox hunting and yet our polling reveals that most are aware it is still sadly going on – it would be a popular move by the government once the current Coronavirus crisis ends to take the steps to consign this brutal activity to the history books.”

The eyewitness reports relate to 110 different fox hunts across 54 counties in England, Scotland and Wales.

Hunts will often use the excuse they were ‘trail’ hunting, which purports to mimic traditional hunting in all respects, except that hunts claim to be following an artificially laid scent.

It is often indistinguishable in practice from traditional hunting, other than labelling the inevitable chasing and killing of animals as an ‘accident’. However, this happens more by design than accident.

The figures also include 102 cases of badger sett interference, a common practice by hunts engaged in illegal hunting. The setts are either blocked up to prevent foxes fleeing underground or are dug up to get to a fox out. Both practices are illegal, and if ‘trail’ hunting was real, simply wouldn’t take place.

Notable reports include:

  • A seven-month old ginger kitten was torn apart by hunt hounds from the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt in Scarcroft, West Yorkshire on Christmas Eve. A fox was also seen being chased by the hunt on the same day.
  • A fox had Sir Paul McCartney to thank for escaping the Dulverton Farmers Foxhounds in March. It was filmed by our staff fleeing into St John’s Wood wildlife sanctuary, on land which was donated to the League by Sir Paul to protect animals from being hunted in West Somerset.
  • Hounds from the Four Burrows Hunt chased a bleeding fox through another wildlife sanctuary near Truro in Cornwall in February 2020, the fourth incident of trespass on that land in recent years by the same hunt.
  • In the same month, hounds from the Wynnstay Hunt killed a fox in a private garden in Aldersey in Cheshire, in front of the residents’ young children.

The Survation Polling revealed that 68 per cent of respondents believe the hunting of foxes by hunt hounds is still taking place in England, Scotland and Wales. Only 19 per cent thought foxes were not being chased by hunt hounds and 13 per cent did not know either way.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

I enclose a link to footage of the fox being chased by the hunt and finding sanctuary on a wildlife sanctuary on land donated to the League by Sir Paul McCartney.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds-Qh6XZqt0&feature=youtu.be

The polling took place in on February 26 and 27 2020 with a sample size of 1,012 people aged over 18 living in rural and urban areas in England, Scotland and Wales.

The polling shows little difference between the views of those who live in both rural and urban areas. Of those who responded, 70 per cent of rural people and 67 per cent of urban people believed the hunting of foxes by hunt hounds still takes place.

There were also high figures across the political spectrum who believed this. Of those who voted in the 2019 general election, 65 per cent of Conservatives, 75 per cent of Labour and 72 per cent of Liberal Democrats thought this.

Full details and tables available here:

https://cdn.survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/07123358/League-Against-Cruel-Sports-Tables-February-2020.xlsx

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).