Fox hunts endanger lives on road and rail, says charity
Posted 27th May 2020
New figures released today by a leading animal welfare charity show how hunting with dogs is endangering lives on roads and railways in Britain.
The League Against Cruel Sports has revealed that hunts caused havoc on roads during the hunting season 128 times during October until March, according to reports the charity received from the public.
Similarly, figures released by Network Rail following a Freedom of Information request submitted by the League show 17 reports of hunts trespassing on railways since 2015, causing disruption and delays to passengers.
Hunting was made illegal in 2005, but hunts now claim they lay a ‘trail’ or animal scent that the hounds follow, rather than chase a fox.
Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports said: “If ‘trail’ hunting is real, then why would hunts be trespassing on railways and hounds be running loose on main roads?
“These actions cause not only delay and disruption to drivers and rail passengers, but it’s dangerous too.
“Hunts should be avoiding hunting on or near transport links, at least to protect the safety of their own hounds and the public.
“The Warwickshire Hunt got off lightly by just paying a fine for causing so much disruption and distress to the train driver who believed he’d hit and killed a dog.”
Seven of the incidents reported to Network Rail involved hounds being struck by trains.
Eight of incidents relating to roads involved foxes being chased across roads by hounds while they were supposedly ‘trail’ hunting.
Ten of the incidents reported to the League included hunting hounds being struck by vehicles on a road, and five of these collisions were fatal for the hound.
The Warwickshire incident took place on New Year’s Day, when hunting hounds strayed onto the main line between Birmingham and London. Not only was there a 30-minute delay while the train was stopped, the stoppage impacted on 21 other services that day – affecting hundreds of people.
Reports to the League also suggest hounds straying far from the hunt is not uncommon, describing hounds running alone and several miles from the rest of the hunt, unable to find their way back to the pack.
Nick added: “Not only does this create an opportunity for hounds to chase wildlife without the hunt staff being there to stop them, but it also poses a huge danger to drivers on the road who would have to take evasive action to avoid hitting them.”
Notes to Editors
The League has released a new video outlining the scale of hounds running loose on roads and rail, which is available here.
More information about the incident involving the Warwickshire Hunt can be seen here.
To be unable to properly control the hunting hounds on a road is illegal under both the Hunting Act 2004 and the Road Traffic Act 1988.