Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports is highlighting the shocking scale of hunting with hounds still taking place in the West Country, on the fifteenth anniversary of the fox hunting ban.

The League has received 17 reports of suspected illegal fox hunting in Devon and Cornwall since the end of October.

Earlier this month, a wildlife sanctuary owner was left shocked after seeing a fox chased by hunting hounds across his land.

Adam Hawker, who opens up his two-acre sanctuary in Tregavethan, near Truro in Cornwall to children, saw between 20 and 30 hounds from the Four Burrow Hunt chasing a fox through a field on the sanctuary. He also saw a huntsman on land adjacent to the sanctuary urging the hounds on to kill.

Adam told the League the fox was bleeding and injured during the chase, and fears it was torn apart by the hunt’s hounds. He reported the incident to the League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch service, and Devon and Cornwall Police.

Adam Hawker said:

“It’s clear to me that the hunt was chasing wildlife. It’s also clear to me that the excuse hunts often make that they are following trails they have laid is nonsense – no one laid a trail on my land.

“What would have happened if a party of children had been caught up in the path of these hounds in full cry? Not only would it have traumatised them, but it would be a serious health and safety concern.”

It is the fourth incident in recent years in which the Four Burrow Hunt has trespassed on his wildlife sanctuary.

Following the hounds were around 20 people on horseback, a man on a quad bike and many cars, all of which tore through narrow country lanes, disturbing wildlife and destroying habitats.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“If trail hunting was real, there would have been no need for the hunt to trespass on Adam’s land, making it anything but a sanctuary for the wildlife that calls it home.

“It’s clear that fox hunts are still getting away with murder and operating like they did before the fox hunting ban, and it’s high time the law was strengthened to prevent this happening.”

The wildlife sanctuary is home to wild deer, badgers, foxes, rabbits and bird species including owls, redwings and snipe.

The Four Burrow Hunt has also trespassed on two other wildlife sanctuaries in the Truro area in recent months – the Happy Habitats woodland wildlife project in the St Allen parish, and the Red River Valley nature reserve in Godrevy.

Adam has reported the incident to Devon and Cornwall Police and is still awaiting a response. The force has not secured a single conviction for the illegal hunting of wildlife since the fox hunting ban.

The incident occurred on February 2, nearly 15 years after hunting with dogs was banned in England and Wales with the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004, which came into force on February 18, 2005.

To report cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of ‘sport, call the Animal Crimewatch Service on 01483 361108 or email [email protected]

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).