Hunting hounds from a Devon hunt caused chaos and stopped traffic as they ran loose on one of Devon’s busiest dual carriageways at the weekend according to eye witness report.

Seven unaccompanied hounds were seen on both the eastbound and westbound carriageways of the A30 between Launceston and Okehampton causing traffic to come to a complete standstill early Saturday afternoon. A further two hounds were seen a mile further east up the busy road being watched from a bridge over the A30 by two members of the hunt.

If hounds were loose on a busy road it throws into doubt claims by hunts that they are ‘trail’ hunting rather than still targeting foxes.

Trail hunting was invented after the fox hunting ban was introduced in England and Wales in 2004. It purports to mimic fox hunting but by following a fox urine scent laid before the hunt begins rather than targeting wildlife. Animal welfare campaigners monitoring the activities of fox hunts have established that trail hunting is actually a deception used by hunts to fool the public and cover up their illegal hunting activities.

The road where the hunting hounds were witnessed is understood to be in the area hunted by the Lamerton Hunt.

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

“Why were hunting hounds loose on a busy A road if they were following a trail laid by the hunt? Or is it that the hounds were on the scent of a fox? Despite hunting being banned 14 years ago, very little has changed with hunts still chasing foxes.

“Hunts are still causing havoc in the British countryside and are routinely being witnessed on busy roads, on railway lines and in people’s gardens – how can this be so if they are following a trail?”

The report of the loose hounds on the busy road came in to the League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch service.

Animal Crimewatch is a confidential hotline where you can report cruelty to animals in the name of sport by telephone, email or using the online form.

The League Against Cruel Sports has received 282 reports of suspected illegal hunting activity across the UK since the beginning of the hunting season on November 1. There have been 42 separate reports of foxes being killed although the League suspects this is the tip of the iceberg.

405 reports of illegal hunting activity were received by the League last year. A further 145 reports came in of hunt causing havoc in the British countryside which consists of incidents such as packs of hounds killing domestic pets, trespassing through people’s gardens and allotments and running onto busy roads and railway lines.

Chris Luffingham added:

“We are calling for the hunting ban to be strengthened with the introduction of prison sentences for those caught illegally hunting. We need a proper deterrent to stop the barbaric activities of the hunts and we also need to close down loop holes that allow hunts to use false excuses such as trail hunting.”

The incident was reported to the police who reported that they had received numerous calls.

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 December.

League Against Cruel Sports President and naturalist and TV presenter Bill Oddie joined League CEO Andy Knott MBE for the hand-in.

Details of the League’s petition which is still open here: 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).