Fox Hunting and Devon: The brutal reality

The county of Devon is renowned for its natural beauty and wildlife, including the world-famous coastline, ponies, and Dartmoor National Park. But it hides a darker side. 

Devon continues to be a hotbed for illegal fox hunting throughout its landscape, with Dartmoor remaining one of only three English National Park authorities that has not committed to ending hunting on their land.

It is in the top five counties for hunt havoc in England and Wales. We have seen this continue in the 2023/24 season, as high-profile stories emerge of hunts trespassing on land, killing livestock, and verbally and physically abusings hunt monitors.

We believe it is time to highlight these incidents and demonstrate how we can begin to break these vicious practices.

The first few months of this hunting season have already shown a shockingly deliberate disregard for the law and have further strengthened the argument that British hunting laws need major reform"

Samiran Culbert - Digital Campaigner, League Against Cruel Sports

The first few months of this hunting season have already shown a shockingly deliberate disregard for the law and have further strengthened the argument that British hunting laws need major reform.

On New Year’s Day, a pregnant alpaca was killed near South Molton in North Devon. Both the animal and her unborn baby succumbed to wounds inflicted by hunting hounds. The owners said that the hunt had trespassed on their land and that the event had left them traumatised and deeply upset.

This indifference towards life is not limited to other people’s livestock and animals, with the hunters themselves showing disgusting apathy towards their own hunting hounds.

At the end of December, hunt saboteurs were left to deal with the aftermath of two injured hunting hounds on the A30 near Oakhampton, after the hunt abandoned their dying animals. The dogs were taken to the vets by members of the public for treatment but unfortunately had to be put down. As one of the people who found the animals said: the hunters were "Not even bothering to come looking for them [which] tells you just how little they care for these animals." 

Devon’s local communities are increasingly airing their dislike for the hunters’ practices. At a recent meeting of North Tawton Town Council, members of the public outlined how the Eggesford Hunt had repeatedly trespassed on Housing Association land, with photographic proof emerging on Facebook of dead foxes and cubs once the hunt left.

In response, the council have agreed to report Eggesford Hunt’s activities to the police and to make an online complaint to the hunt itself. These are not isolated instances. Local communities are finding that hunts are increasingly breaking the law and trespassing brazenly in their back gardens, local parks and roads - something we summarised in a recent blog about Exmoor National Park.

Alongside the disregard for both the people and animals of the local community, hunts in Devon are seen regularly breaking the laws outlined in the Hunting Act 2004. Hunt saboteurs have frequently caught hunts trespassing, bothering livestock, and brazenly hunting foxes in Dartmoor and other Devon areas.

Devon County Hunt Saboteurs have seen Eggesford Hunt chasing foxes throughout this hunting season, with a fox being killed in November and other instances occurring regularly. 

This is not limited to just Eggesford Hunt. The Stevenstone Hunt were seen chasing at least three foxes in one incident.

How can we help stop these horrible things from happening?

The first step we can take is to make sure that all National Park-owned land bans hunting, including ‘trail’ hunting – a smokescreen used by the hunts since the Hunting Act 2004, to cover up the illegal chasing and killing of foxes.

Dartmoor continues to be one of only three National Parks that has not banned hunting activity on their land and it is time for change. 

It’s time for the Dartmoor National Park authority to stop licensing trail hunts and to put pressure on other landowners in the National Park's boundaries to prevent hunts from happening. 

Email Dartmoor today to tell them to stop all hunting on their land.

Email Dartmoor National Park

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