The New Year has got off to a brutal start with reports emerging from around England of foxes being killed by hunts – at least eight since Boxing Day according to information received by the League Against Cruel Sports.

The most recent report came in on Wednesday, January 2 of hunting hounds under the control of the Portman Hunt chasing a fox across the Dorset countryside near Fifehead St Quintin before literally tearing it apart. The killing of the fox was witnessed by local campaigners from North Dorset Hunt Saboteurs who also retrieved the corpse of the disembowelled animal.

Shocking footage from Boxing Day obtained by Devon County Hunt Saboteurs shows hounds from the Eggesford Hunt savagely killing a fox at Place Farm on the edge of Oakhampton. Graphic footage showed how the fox was killed in front of the campaigners despite their efforts to save it – the fox died in the arms of a young female hunt saboteur.

A distressing photo and video show a dead fox moments after it had been killed by hounds from the Crawley and Horsham Hunt. The disembowelled corpse of the fox was retrieved by a member of the West Sussex Hunt Saboteurs and filmed by a League investigator. The fox was killed in the garden of a private property near Dragons Green in West Sussex.

Elsewhere in the country, reports have emerged of other hunts chasing or killing foxes. The Guildford Hunt Saboteurs witnessed a huntsman covered in blood after a feared fox kill and saw another fox being chased in what is thought to be a joint Hampshire Hunt and Clinkard Meon Valley Beagles meet. The Northants Hunt Saboteurs witnessed a fox being chased by the Cottesmore Hunt and fear it was killed – the same group also discovered an artificial earth being used by the hunt to rear foxes to be hunted.

The South Coast Hunt Saboteurs received a report showing three foxes were killed on New Years Day by the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt. 

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“These horrific incidents prove that hunts are continuing to slaughter wildlife for their own amusement while shamelessly pretending that they are not.

“These latest kills are sadly just the tip of the iceberg but they show hunts are flouting the law and still killing wildlife 13 years after fox hunting was banned in England and Wales. Foxes are still being chased to exhaustion across the British countryside before being literally torn to pieces by packs of trained hunting hounds.

“The hunts are behaving as they did before the fox hunting ban was introduced, killing and sadly getting away with their brutal and barbaric ‘sport’.”

Since the start of the hunting season in November, the League has received 151 reports of British wildlife being targeted by hunts.

Many of the hunts use the excuse that they are ‘trail’ hunting but all the evidence compiled by people monitoring their activities is that this is simply a deception to fool the public while they indiscriminately target, chase and kill foxes.

Chris Luffingham, added:

“With 85% of people opposing all forms of hunting with hounds, there is strong support for British wildlife being given robust protection from those who kill for ‘sport’. How can we call ourselves a civilised nation when those who gain entertainment from attacking wildlife continue to go unpunished by the law?

“We back the Labour Party calls for the introduction of prison sentences for those caught hunting illegally and we call on the Government and all the other political parties to adopt measures that will truly bring an end to fox hunting."

The League recently released polling showing people living in the countryside have overwhelmingly rejected the idea that hunting with dogs reflects their values and spend far more time watching wildlife rather than killing it.

Polling carried out by Survation and commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports found that over nine out of ten (91%) rural residents think that observing nature reflects countryside values, while only one in six (16%) believe hunting with dogs reflects countryside values.

It found that very few people living in the countryside took part in the hunting of foxes, deer and hare with packs of hounds – only 4% said they ever participate in hunting, compared to 63% who observe wildlife at least once a month; 59% who take part in walking or hiking at least once a month; 39% who participate in running, cycling or horse riding at least once a month; and 52% who visit pubs at least once a month.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Hunting is claimed by a minority to be a cornerstone of country life, yet it is revealing that people living in the countryside get far more enjoyment from watching wildlife rather than killing it.

“Modern day countryside values are based around respect for nature, not the abuse of nature for entertainment. This polling confirms that we are a nation of animal lovers and that hunting needs to be consigned to history.”

The polling comes at the end of a turbulent year for hunting after the Government abandoned plans for a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act due to the unpopularity of the measure.

The Labour Party is now calling for the strengthening of the Hunting Act to ensure that loopholes exploited by the hunts are closed and that there are stronger deterrents including prison sentences for people convicted of illegal hunting.

Petition

A League petition called Stop the killing of animals by hunts in the UK’ attracted over 100,000 signatures and was handed into Downing Street in the week before Christmas.

League Against Cruel Sports President, naturalist and TV presenter Bill Oddie joined League CEO Andy Knott MBE for the hand-in. You can still sign and share the petition, here

BBC exposes a hunt ‘training hounds to kill fox cubs’

The BBC exposed the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt on its Radio 4 PM programme in December after it was caught chasing and killing baby foxes.

See here for more:

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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 polling took place in early December 2018 with a sample size of 1,072 people aged over 18 living in rural areas in England and Wales. Full details and tables available here: https://www.survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/LACS-Tables.xlsx.

  • Photos of Bill Oddie handing in the League Against Cruel Sports petition are available on request.

  • 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).