Demand an end to hunting wildlife with dogs in Northern Ireland now!

Update: Legislation has now been formally introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly which, if passed, will ban hunting wild animals with dogs, trail hunting and terrier work. Please take actionand contact your MLAs today and urge them to support the Hunting of Wild Mammals Bill today.

Most people assume that hunting with dogs is banned in Northern Ireland, as it is elsewhere in the UK, but this isn’t the case.

We have the chance to ban hunting at last, but right now this cruelty is still legal. As animal lovers, we decided we could no longer look away. So with the help of our main organisation group, the Hunt Saboteurs Association, we formed the Hunt Saboteurs NI in 2013.

First and foremost, we wanted to take direct action to protect wildlife from being ripped apart by hunts. However, we also raise awareness of the cruelty involved when hunting with dogs.

We use different peaceful techniques to stop the hunt catching their quarry, such as foxes and stags. We try, often successfully, to keep up with the hunt and as the hounds go into cry we go into action. Tactics we use include electronic devices known as gizmos. When these are turned on, it plays hounds in cry and this sound attracts the hounds to us. It is crucial to only use this when is safe to do so. We also use citronella spray to cover the scent of the fox. This scent puts the hounds off, and the fox can get away. We have saved quite a few foxes but unfortunately, we haven’t saved them all.

The fact that we are having to use these techniques to stop animals being ripped apart is utterly shameful and unacceptable. We cannot continue to allow this to happen in 2021.

We have witnessed many horrors whilst sabbing, some just too graphic to put into words.

First, we have the hounds. They live miserable lives, starved for days to allow them to be more aggressive when out hunting. We have witnessed many hounds injured, stuck in gate fences, being close to drowning and near misses with cars on the road. We have had to take hounds to vets ourselves over the years because the hunt don’t care whatsoever about their dogs. In fact, to them they are only a tool. We have first-hand knowledge to tell us that dogs who don’t live up to it are cruelly murdered - dispatched by being shot, hit over the head with a shovel or just left to roam the countryside and fend for themselves.

Part of the hunts’ sick and twisted fun is the use of terrier men; they do the dirty work for them. They will dig many feet into the ground to get a fox that has gone to ground. They send their own terriers in to flush the terrified foxes out to be chased to exhaustion resulting in them being ripped to pieces in the most unbearable pain.

The other role of terrier-men is intimidation and violence. Over the years, we have been on the receiving end of physical violence resulting in hospital treatment. Hunt support and hunters on horseback also attack us, using their poor horse as a weapon against us.

The horses are also abused and pushed beyond their limits. It was only a couple of weeks back that one hunter spent over two minutes kicking their horse as it refused to jump a particular bad jump. We’ve seen horses ridden into ditches and beaten badly when they can’t get up. We’ve also been on scene when a horse has been shot after a bad fall. Horses, like the hounds, are just a commodity to be used.

We put our lives at risk at every hunt we attend and the reason we do this is because what they’re doing is not just wrong but barbaric. The only way to stop it has been to stand up directly against it regardless of the risk. If they cause injury to us, then then they are not harming animals on that day. In 2021 there is no place for these outdated cruel practices, yet hunting with dogs is still legal in Northern Ireland.

We very much welcome the proposed Private Members Bill to finally outlaw hunting with dogs with dogs, which is open for public consultation. We desperately need anti-hunting legislation that doesn’t duplicate the loopholes and exemptions that have hindered prosecutions under the Hunting Act. We’ve seen evidence of this recently in leaked hunting webinars that show how hunts manipulate the law to keep killing wildlife, for example with trail hunting ‘smokescreens’ or claims to be flushing foxes to a bird of prey.

We now have a unique opportunity to establish legislation that is robust, enforceable and enables successful prosecutions. Northern Ireland also needs to set the highest standard to lead the way for other nations to follow.

However, we need your help! Please submit your response to the consultation survey here and sign up for updates about the campaign.

Hunt Saboteurs NI

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