A hunt has been seen by the BBC targeting fox cubs in the English countryside in a bid to train its hounds to kill. The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt was exposed ‘cub hunting’ by the BBC Radio 4 PM programme after a journalist accompanied a League Against Cruel Sports professional investigator monitoring their activity earlier this year.

The BBC programme aired this evening adds to growing concerns about this cruel practice – 138 separate reports of cub hunting, involving 73 different hunts, came into the League Against Cruel Sports this year between the beginning of August and the end of October.

Cub hunting involves hunt followers surrounding a small copse and making noise by shouting and slapping saddles to scare fox cubs from escaping the woodland which the huntsman enters with a pack of hounds – any fox cubs detected by the hounds will be ripped to pieces.

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Hunts still chase and kill foxes in the English countryside even though their ‘sport’ has been banned for 14 years. The only way they can do this is to give their young hounds the taste of fox blood – they do this by cub hunting. The brutal reality of this activity is clear in its name – they hunt and kill baby foxes.

“What the BBC experienced is not a one-off. Hunts do this every year up and down the country, because if they didn’t, the hounds wouldn’t naturally chase and kill foxes. The existence of cub hunting proves that ‘trail hunting’ is a sham – these hounds aren’t trained to follow a trail, they are trained to kill.”

The practice of cub hunting is also known as ‘autumn’ hunting and it trains hounds to be ready for the fox hunting season which begins in November – hounds which don’t learn how to kill will be shot for under-performing.

The League received reports of 73 separate hunts suspected of cub hunting across the UK. Some of the hunts were caught cub hunting on more than on occasion and include:

  • The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt was witnessed cub hunting by League Against Cruel Sports investigators who filmed a fox bolting from woodland and being chased by the hunt’s hounds. Two representatives of the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt have now been interviewed under caution by Derbyshire Police in relation to allegations of illegal hunting.
  • A BBC reporter attended a follow-up operation when hunters on horseback, accompanied by terrier men – who accompany hunts and use their dogs to flush out foxes that have hidden underground – surrounded woodland and sent their hounds through it.
  • There were four reports of the Belvoir Hunt cub hunting – two of its terrier men were successfully prosecuted this year for assaulting two League Against Cruel Sport professional investigators. The League’s Darryl Cunnington, a serving police officer for 29 years and current head of Field Operations at the League had his neck broken in three places.
  • There were three reports of the Surrey Union Hunt cub hunting. This was the same hunt that was recently witnessed killing a fox and subsequently agreed not to hunt on National Trust land.
  • The Duke of Beaufort Foxhounds, one of the most well-known hunts in the UK, was reported to be cub hunting on at least three occasions.

Most of the reports of cub hunting came into the League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch line. You can report any concerns you may have on 01483 361108 or email [email protected] 

Nick Weston added:

“It’s appalling that fox cubs are literally being torn to pieces so the hounds can train their hounds to kill.

“14 years after fox hunting with hounds was banned in England And Wales, the hunts still persist in their cruel and illegal activities – it’s time for the Hunting Act to be strengthened including the introduction of prison sentences to deter people from organising and taking part in cruel sports.”

Petition

The League is encouraging members of the public to sign their petition titled ‘Stop the killing of animals by hunts in the UK’. Full details at: www.league.org.uk/huntingkills

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

  • 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).;