And it’s not just the wild animals that get hurt, terriers are often severely injured in the subterranean fights. The men have little regard for the pain of their dogs. That is borne out by the way they are transported and handled and the injuries the terriers receive which are often repaired using homemade sewing kits and no anaesthetic.
Imagine what is must be like for a small fox hiding in complete darkness. He has been chased to earth by a pack of baying hounds where he lies exhausted and trembling waiting for the danger above ground to pass. The men have either blocked or netted his other escape routes and introduced a dog into the hole. The fox is trapped and can only fight for his life whilst the men dig him out from above.
Sometimes if the fox is facing away from the terrier he may be savaged from behind. His hind quarters will be torn and slashed by the dog which will bite anything within reach of its jaws. Don’t forget dog and fox are fighting in a small space devoid of any light. Terrible injuries can result to both animals from these underground fights which are protracted and always bloody.
Fighting terriers, or hard-mouthed dogs, are forbidden under the hunting Act of 2004, but under pressure from the blood sports lobby, some terrier work is allowed to continue under exemptions for gamekeepers and others. What is not allowed is using a terrier other than to flush a fox from cover, but if you think these men give a fig about the law then think again. They are brutal, callous individuals who often try to claim they are providing a service by exterminating vermin.
This is a lie on two counts. First, foxes are not vermin and second, they mostly don’t need to be killed. The only thing these vile men provide is a grisly satisfaction for themselves and their ‘sport’. Where ever you find a sadistic act of cruelty you will also find an abuser who will defend his actions by claiming the animal he likes to torture is vermin. In 2011 a gamekeeper was convicted of extreme cruelty when he caught a fox in a snare and set his dogs on the animal, who was forced to fight for his life whilst snared and backed into a corner by this horrible thug. This man watched with a friend, and even videoed the fox’s torment on his phone. Eventually, when the fox was too weak to fight any more, it was shot. His defense in court was to claim he was dispatching vermin. He said it was only a fox and he had done nothing wrong by his way of thinking. The RSPCA Inspector said he had never seen anything so cruel in his ten years of working with the RSPCA.
These are the kind of people who often follow the hunt, although they can also be found acting independently, travelling up and down the country in pursuit of their vile entertainment. They are not immoral they are amoral, and they operate in a subterranean culture totally without empathy and without conscience. Setting a dog on a fox is indistinguishable from dog-fighting and baiting. Indeed in 2007 a BBC Panorama program revealed that many dog-fighting rings attend terrier and lurcher shows which are held throughout the UK. Terrier work and cruelty go hand in hand. To find the truth of this we need look no further than Facebook where people openly boast and post their nasty pictures of the wild animals they have persecuted, tortured and destroyed.
The League Against Cruel Sports has reported two recent incidents of cruelty to foxes in Wales. Members of the campaign group Wales Against Animal Cruelty reported that even though it is against the law two men admitted to sending a terrier underground to find a fox. The men had netted the escape holes and were caught on camera shooting the fox as it tried to escape.
The second incident has caused widespread outrage and has even prompted a petition insisting that the people responsible are arrested and prosecuted. The petition wording makes horrific reading,
“They came upon a young vixen who had just given birth to two young fox cubs. She was too weak to defend the cubs, and against the thugs of this hunt group and the dogs, she did not stand a chance.
The vixen whilst battling to defend herself as she was being torn to pieces would have had to watch as her two newly born cubs were also dragged from the den she had made safe and secure to give birth and feed these two sweet little cubs, the dogs then tore the vixen to pieces and killed her, not satisfied with this cruelty the "huntsmen" if you can call them that, teased the terrier dogs with the newly born defenseless cubs and allowed the dogs to take chunks from them.”
The petition calls on the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police Constabulary to investigate the hunt and people on Twitter also sent messages asking what the police intend to do, if anything.
The League has stated on their website,
“The League has flagged these reports with South Wales Police, in a hope that they will look into the incidents further to determine if any illegal activity has taken place. The information will also be used by the League’s own Investigations Team, which is tasked to investigate cruel sports, illegal hunting and wildlife crime.”
It takes a particularly nasty type of human being to set dogs on a defenseless animal in order to enjoy the outcome. More often than not the animals these vile people torture display a measure of courage that their gutless assailants could never match. This is one of many stories from the archives of the Hunt Saboteurs Magazine Howl 1989
“4th March: Essex Foxhounds hunt a vixen and mark her to ground. Before hunt saboteurs from the mid-Essex group can reach the scene the hunt’s terrier men dig the vixen out and kill her. They left the scene apparently unaware that the vixen was lactating and had obviously given birth. The vixen had been killed just inside the earth where she had stood up to and fought the hunt terriers to protect her young. Hunt saboteurs, on reaching the earth, heard faint mewing sounds from amongst the wreckage of the earth. They started digging and were rewarded with the sight of nine newly born and still blind cubs no more than five days old. Their vixen had sacrificed her life for them – but not in vain. These cubs were taken away to an animal sanctuary and with a great deal of care reared successfully for later release back into the wild, in a safe area.”
Hopefully in 2015, and with a change of Government, the law will be strengthened to outlaw terrier work completely and those found breaking the law will be treated to a spell in prison and banned from keeping animals and owning guns for life.
Resources and related reading
Keep the hunting ban, only civilised way forward
Political skulduggery and the Countryside Alliance
Time to strengthen the Hunting Act
British democracy, don't make me laugh
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Country lover, amateur naturalist and fox lover fighting to preserve the ban on hunting
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