Up to 10,000 victims a year – and no witnesses?

The League Against Cruel Sports to offer £1,000 reward for information that leads to a successful conviction. 

The League Against Cruel Sports has launched an appeal for information into the illegal activity of cub hunting – the cruel practice of hunting fox cubs to train young hounds to hunt.

Despite a ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs under the Hunting Act 2004, cub hunting – also known as autumn hunting – remains a widely practiced part of hunting, as it is used to train young and inexperienced hounds to follow the scent of and learn how to kill a fox.

The hunting community openly admitted to taking part in the practice before the 2004 hunting ban, saying that up to 10,000 fox cubs were killed by them annually during cub hunting. While the practice is now strongly denied by registered hunts, evidence shows that the practice continues.

Eduardo Gonçalves, CEO for the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“Cub hunting is one of the hunting fraternity’s dirtiest secrets, and one which I’m sure will come as a horrible shock to the majority of people unaware that this callous practice continues to take place.

“Even prior to the ban on hunting being enacted, hunts started to refer to the practice as ‘autumn hunting’ in a bid to mislead and cover up the gruesome truth of what is involved – the cruel and unnecessary killing of thousands of fox cubs every year.

“This secretive practice must be stopped. Our work relies on good intelligence and so we are calling on members of the public to help us by being extra vigilant and report any information that will help us to investigate, expose and ultimately stamp out this barbaric practice.”

Cub hunting traditionally takes place in the autumn, anytime between the end of August and October 31st. In the early morning or late evening, a selected few members of registered hunts will meet with their hounds. They often wear tweed rather than the recognisable red hunting coats, and they may gather around small copses or woods on private land, out of public view.

The intention behind cub hunting is to enable young and inexperienced hounds to follow the lead and learn from more experienced dogs ahead of the main hunting season which begins in November. Without learning how to hunt a live animal – something that does not come naturally to a fox hound – hunts would not be able to hunt foxes successfully under the guise of ‘trail hunting’.

A wood or copse known to be housing a fox family is surrounded by hunt members with a pack of hounds. When the fox family is disturbed by the dogs, frightened cubs may try to flee, but are sent back into the cover of the trees by hunt members clapping and shouting, eventually the dogs get any cubs that do not manage to escape and they are ripped apart.

The League is appealing for members of the public to look out for any signs that suggest cub hunting may be taking place in their area. Without information there can be no investigations and in turn no prosecutions for the illegal practice.


Eduardo Gonçalves, CEO for the League Against Cruel Sports added: “We need to do everything we can to identify this secretive practice and bring any perpetrators of this illegal activity to justice.”

The League is asking members of the public to report if they:

  • hear people talk about an ‘autumn hunt’ or meet taking place between late August and the end of October,
  • see a hunt going out very early in the morning or late at night, not dressed in red coats, or,
  • have had members of a hunt tell them they are just out exercising the hounds or out for a social?

They could be cub hunting. The public can report any activity that concerns them to the police and to the League’s Animal Crimewatch line on 01483 361108, crimewatch@league.org.uk

The reward of up to £1,000 is available for information given to the League that leads to one or more individuals being successfully convicted of illegal hunting.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

  1.  The hunting fraternity “confessed” they were killing up to 10,000 fox cubs before the ban, as part of their testimony at the Burns Inquiry in 2000 
  2. In 2012, there was a successful prosecution against a hunt master and one of his staff from the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt, for illegally hunting with dogs during a cub hunting event: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-19198527

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