New figures showing the appalling scale of fox cub hunting taking place in the countryside this autumn, have been released today by the League Against Cruel Sports.

Between the middle of August and the end of October, there were 300 reported incidents of suspected illegal fox cub hunting across England and Wales.

These include 15 eye-witness reports of foxes being chased and killed, despite the fox hunting ban.

The shocking figures are being released as police investigate comments made in two webinars by senior figures within the fox hunting lobby in which they seem to describe ‘trail’ hunting as a “smokescreen” for the chasing and killing of foxes.

They also describe an exemption to the Hunting Act that enables cubs to be killed as a “terribly good wheeze”.

The revelations have led to five of England and Wales’ largest landowners suspending ‘trail’ hunting.

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

“These figures are yet another wake-up call for landowners, councils, policy makers and prosecutors that ‘trail’ hunting is just as it was described in the Hunting Office’s webinars - a smokescreen.

“Fox hunts have been deceiving the public about their ‘trail’ hunting activities while simultaneously setting their hounds on fox cubs to tear them apart, and we are calling on landowners to proactively ban trail hunting for good.”

The suspected illegal hunting took place in 56 different counties and involved 108 different hunts.

The total number of highly suspected illegal fox cub hunting incidents includes kills, but also chases of foxes, and behaviour that is in line with traditional cub hunting practices as used before the ban.

Gloucestershire was the county with the highest number of suspected illegal hunting incidents with 43 cases in less than a three month period.

The Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt topped the hall of shame as the hunt across England and Wales with the highest number of suspected illegal hunting incidents with 21 cases.

The League’s professional investigators recently filmed hounds from the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt chasing a fox through a barbed wire fence on Hawkesbury Common in Gloucestershire.

Fox cub hunting, known as autumn hunting, involves hunts targeting fox cubs, normally in patches of woodland, and is designed to train their pack of hounds to kill in advance of the fox hunting season.

Chris Luffingham, added:

“Cub hunting is a monstrous activity which has no place in modern day society – there is a clear need to strengthen the Hunting Act by outlawing ‘trail’ hunting and removing the ridiculous exemptions being exploited by the hunts  just so that they can carry on killing animals in the countryside.

“Polling indicates that the vast majority of the British public are opposed to fox hunting in whatever form it takes and it’s now time to end it once and for all.”

The figures include 15 cases of badger sett interference – a practise in which terrier men either block up setts before the hunt to prevent foxes escaping underground dig up setts during the hunt to get to foxes that have hidden underground.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Use the following link to see the League footage of a fox being chased by hounds from the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt on October 28, 2020 on Hawkesbury Common in Gloucestershire:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCvkSPDQaqw&feature=youtu.be

YouGov polling commissioned by the League in October 2019 showed 79 per cent of respondents who expressed a view think the Hunting Act should be amended to ensure foxes are not killed by hunts claiming to be trail hunting. Total sample size was 1,639 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th - 30th October 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The link to the full tables is here.

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).