Hunt supporters, led by Tim Bonner, CEO of the Countryside Alliance, are waging war on hunt saboteurs. Their latest modus operandi is to try to change the law to prevent sabs from effectively sabotaging illegal hunts by attacking their right to cover their faces in public.
A vitriolic and one-sided spiel against the sabs in the Mail Online on the 6th March gave pro hunt Victoria Prentice, MP for Banbury, a platform from which to explain her plan to discuss hunt sabs and face coverings during the debate on the Police and Crime Bill in the Commons. It is not currently illegal to cover one’s face in public, but Ms Prentis omitted to mention that the pro hunt supporters also avail themselves of this right whenever they intend to commit acts of vandalism or inflict personal injuries onto those who are against their cruel form of entertainment.
Ms Prentis told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It is simply not acceptable that extremists can carry out harassment and assaults without fear of identification or prosecution.’
The only thing that kept my rage to heel was the overpowering admiration for the way that hunt monitor (a small-statured, inoffensive and kind woman) kept her poise, her dignity and her absolutely unshakeable courage in the face of such treatment from a bunch of baying morons who sought to intimidate her. She was nothing less than awesome as she stood strong, kept a reasoned tone, and took that treatment in the knowledge that it was the price of perhaps saving a fox that day. It is humbling.”
Week in week out, brave people like that woman, are assaulted and threatened. The thugs on horseback and their brutal followers are emboldened by the indifference of the police to illegal hunting. They are not afraid of confrontation because they know the police usually believe their lies and the Courts rarely offer any punitive incentives for them to obey the law. There is an army of lawyers who specialise in hunting law waiting to use the loopholes in the hunting Act to get them off, and pro hunting MPs like Victoria Prentis are always waiting in the wings for any opportunity to argue a case against the thin line of saboteurs who are all that stand between pain, fear and death for British wildlife. The Countryside Alliance, that mouthpiece for all that is wrong in the British countryside, has the ear of many Tory MPs so that justice is rarely seen to be done.
Hunting brutality and hunters hiding behind face masks is nothing new to the saboteurs however. The savagery of the blood sports fraternity and the beatings have been going on for decades. As long ago as 1995 well before the hunting Act, balaclava-clad thugs at the Crawley and Horsham Foxhunt in Sussex smashed a saboteur van's windscreen. Meanwhile at the Cattistock Foxhunt in Somerset, Alistair Jackson, the southeast region press spokesman of the British Field Sports Society (BFSS), was arrested after punching a saboteur to the ground. The list is endless stretching back over countless times.
Lee Moon spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association said, ‘Hunters head out with the intention of illegally chasing and killing wildlife and when their efforts are thwarted they take their frustrations out on those who have stopped them. Violence against sabs has been going on for decades but as the hunts know it doesn't deter us, rather it makes us more determined to get out there and stop them killing.’
Reluctant heroes who do not ask for fame. We must support our saboteurs because it seems the establishment will do nothing to protect our precious wild life.
You have until March 18, 2016 to sign this petition - Time to strengthen the Hunting Act
Video of Atherstone steward simulating sex with a dead goose http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/local-news/warning-disturbing-video-shows-atherstone-10111039
Cotswold hunter on a horse attacking a sab https://www.facebook.com/3CHuntSabs/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf
15 year old assaulting saboteurs https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=video+atherstone+hunt+attacking+monitor&qpvt=video+atherstone+hunt+attacking+monitor&view=detail&mid=B1D580A012116A6D48BCB1D580A012116A6D48BC&FORM=VRDGAR
Hunt Saboteurs Association (warning graphic images of mutilated animals) http://www.huntsabs.org.uk/index.php?catid=0&id=208
The Hare Preservation Trust group on Face Book has been asking people to sign a petition to protect hares from persecution from gamekeepers on Scottish grouse moors. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) pointed out its not illegal to ‘cull’ hares in Scotland. Shooting hares is a popular activity amongst blood sport enthusiasts, who can rack up as many as 400,000 dead hares each year. It's a money spinner too, with a day's shooting costing anything up to a £1000.
The Scottish gamekeepers are shy about the killing of hares and they don’t like being questioned too closely about the activity either.
When pinned down they prefer to expand on how all animals including hares, benefit from grouse moorland management because of the removal of predators like foxes, weasels, raptors etc. It makes not a jot of difference that Scottish Mountain Hares are reportedly being driven to extinction by gamekeepers, and one of the reasons, apart from the enjoyment of a fun day out shooting, is because they believe that hares carry a tick which can kill grouse. And so the obscene massacre of the gentle hare continues in spite of calls from the Scottish government and animal groups for voluntary restraint.
Back in November 2015 the Wildlife Crime Penalties Review Group (WCPRG) published its findings on how wildlife crime in Scotland is dealt with by the criminal justice system. It was clearly shown that the present system is failing woefully and the punishments do not act as deterrents The WCPRG highlighted ten short and medium term recommendations for the Scottish Government to consider, all of which are supported by the Hare Preservation Trust. The most significant of these recommendations is a hefty fine increase from the current £5,000 to £40,000.
Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod has responded to the report and has accepted the recommendations.
She had this to say, “Wildlife crime has no place in modern Scotland, this is why I have decided to increase the maximum available penalties to bring wildlife offences into line with other environmental crimes. It is important we have appropriate penalties that deter criminality but also reflect the impact these crimes can have on our environment and Scotland’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination. Work will now begin on bringing together a list of relevant offences this change would apply to.”
They hire the gamekeepers to protect the game birds for their canned hunting, and they aren’t fussy about what form that protection might take. Another silent but deadly killer of huge numbers of hares are wire noose snares. Deadly loops of death which catch all manner of innocent animals from hares to domestic pets. The snares are set for foxes, which are hated by game keepers because the eat grouse.
Snaring is not illegal, although it should be, and two thirds of the animals that die in snares are not the target species. Hares make up a huge proportion of the animals that are caught in snares every week. Often in the breeding season, and the hares that die are pregnant, or even worse they may leave young leverets who will starve to death.
Images from IShoot and the Hare Preservation Trusts facebook page
Originally written in 2014 this post is as relevant as ever as the British Conservative party look at ways to overturn the UK hunting ban.
The hunters are today attempting to negate the anti-hunting argument by inferring that banning hunting has nothing to do with a love of unmolested wild life, and everything to do with spiteful bullying and jealousy of the upper classes. What they omit to mention is that they themselves are not strangers to some horrendous upper class bullying and hatred of the plebs who dare to stand against them.
The Protection of Wild Mammals Bill, a forerunner of the hunting Act we have today, was a modest but welcome step which had to be critically defended in the face of a seven-year counter-assault by the forces of a militant tendency in upper class Britain. The introduction of the Bill saw venomous resistance in the House of Lords and fierce extra parliamentary attacks with direct action and civil disobedience.
Building on the Wild Mammals Act, and to give UK wildlife the right not to be hunted and torn apart by a pack of dogs, came the hunting Act, and if we had seen sedition in the upper echelons with the forerunner of the Act, it was nothing to the mayhem and anarchy that prevailed in town and country alike when the toffs thought their cruel pastime was about to be snatched away for good.
Notoriously, a plummy mob of violent protesters hijacked Parliament Square in London, and members of the 'Ledbury set' led by their pro hunt pin up boy Otis Ferry, broke in onto the floor of the House of Commons to protest about what they thought should be their human right to kill for fun.
*The old aristocracy and the parvenus who ape them and their bloodthirsty ways, bile-belching reactionary journos, the Tory Party's front bench and backwoodsmen, along with a rag tag army of retainers, hangers-on and village idiots, took to the proverbial barricades in rebellion against townies, democracy and the 21st century.
And the battle for the British countryside began, but it wasn’t started by the common decent folk. It was started by that privileged minority who had never in their lives before been told that they must defer to the rule of law and desist in pursuing that nefarious and cruel pastime known as fox hunting. That symbol of aristocratic privilege and the natural order of things where the upper classes ruled and the surfs did as they were told, or at least didn’t argue back, had come to an end. Their God-given right to do as they like had been challenged by Labour party upstarts no less and they were jolly well going to see about it. They immediately declared the Act a waste of time and unworkable. They called it an unjust law, and on that premise they took their grievance to the Court of Human Rights where they were promptly told that it is not a human right to kill.
Bloody-nosed but undeterred the hunters signed a declaration to break the law, and they hoorayed and trumpeted their defiance, dressed in hunting pink, the length and breadth of the land, killing and chasing foxes as before whilst pretending all the while they were following trails of foxes which had long been turned into American fur coats.
Then the RSPCA successfully prosecuted the Heythrop for illegal hunting, and the toffs turned really nasty. The aristocratic and land-owning elite and their right-wing middle class allies, aided and abetted by the right wing press, orchestrated a prolonged, vicious and scurrilous attack on the RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports and any other animal charity that dared voice an opinion against hunting. Sir Barney White Spunner, recently erstwhile CEO of the Countryside Alliance, wrote in the Telegraph saying that the RSPCA was a sinister organisation. Simon Hart MP, himself an avid hunter, who it is rumoured entered politics specifically to fight to repeal the ban, wrote to the Charity Commission complaining that the RSPCA had over stepped its remit and the prosecution was politically motivated. The Charity Commission ruled that the RSPCA had no case to answer. Mr Hart went so far as to discuss the matter in Parliament, but again the RSPCA was vindicated, with the Attorney General adding that the Charity performed an essential and valuable service which could not be easily picked up by the police or the CPS.
Undeterred and still charging over the fields on horseback, and still breaking the law whilst at the same time declaring themselves Martyrs and decrying the infringement of their basic human rights, they attempt to align themselves with heroes like Nelson Mandela and Martyn Luther King. As if these hunt apologists ever lifted a finger to protest at the true injustices visited on the working classes during the miners’ strike or the present day hardships of those on zero hour contracts and people that are made homeless because of the bedroom tax.
Odd that these very same people who admit gleefully to breaking the law are ardent supporters of law and order when it comes to prosecuting hunt saboteurs for aggravated trespass. (A law brought in specifically to stop our sabs entering private land to record video evidence or prevent illegal hunting. Aggravated trespass carries a stiff fine, a criminal record and may incur a term of imprisonment.)
When it comes to defending their privilege, whatever it takes becomes their credo and violence against anti-hunt people and property is common place. The battle is not just about foxhunting. Fox hunting is part of a long class war and the toffs are determined to show the rest of us just who runs Britain.
(He was however reprimanded for his imprudence at a later date). Unfortunately for Mr Barnfield et al, the evidence of blatant hunting was irrefutable, and they had no option but to ‘fess up, and Justice Tim Pattinson had no other option but to bring in a verdict of guilty.
He fined the Heythrop hunt and its members £6,800, but then he rounded on the RSPCA for spending £330,000 to bring the case.
“Members of the public may feel that RSPCA funds can be more usefully employed,” he told Oxford Magistrates' Court. Perhaps he’d not heard that the Spindles Farm prosecution, brought against farmer Grey for cruelty to his horses, cost three times that amount and the RSPCA was praised on that occasion for their professionalism and diligence.
Obviously Prince Charles feels the same.
He wants the RSPCA to spend its time on other cruelties, the likes of which won’t affect his hunting chums. The police don’t seem to bother, and the CPS are not in a good place right now with funding cuts and no real experts to take on hunting cases.
If only the RSPCA would just concentrate on more working class sadisms, like lamping and dog fighting, fox hunters could then carry on Tally Ho Ho Ho-ing and hollering all over England’s green and pleasant land with no hindrance to their enjoyment.
The disembowelling of our precious wildlife for the sheer entertainment value of it all would go on as before with little fear of prosecution.
Of course the Countryside Alliance (CA) is cock a hoop with his Royal Huntness. That bastion of all that is wrong and bloody in the UK countryside thinks it’s a great idea for Charlie to threaten the RSPCA with dissociation from all things Royal.
The CA CEO, Tim Bonner, had this to say, "Anyone considering taking on the patronage of the RSPCA would have to consider its future direction and whether it is going to continue down a radical campaign path. If it reverts to its traditional role as a welfare charity protecting animals I am sure nobody could have any reason not to support its work."
In all honesty, would it be so bad if the RSPCA dropped the ‘R’? RSPCA supporters think not. In fact many people have been unhappy for some time that the bloodthirsty in the highest circles continue to support killing wild animals.
Prince Charles’ grandsons and his daughter in law, with attendant family, celebrated Kate Middleton’s thirty fourth birthday ‘low key’ blasting away at birds in the seclusion of a private estate.
Charles’ sister, the Princess Royal, was a one-time patron of the RSPCA until it was deemed unfit for someone so rabidly pro hunt to front a charity which was founded to promote kindness to animals. The upper echelons have tried for some time to get their bloodstained paws on the RSPCA. In 2001 the RSPCA expelled the Olympic showjumper Richard Meade for orchestrating a campaign to infiltrate the society and overturn its longstanding opposition to hunting.
Fortunately the RSPCA has resisted all efforts at take over and has stood firm on its policies against hunting. This ethical and moral stance has not been an easy ride. The Charity’s last CEO was bullied mercilessly for daring to take the rich man’s sport to task. Lies and smears in the pro hunting press, together with continuous bad mouthing from the Country side Alliance, forced Mr Grant to retire on health grounds.
At present the Charity is without a new chief executive; a job, in the light of the bile and spite pouring forth from the hunting fraternity, is not one any prospective candidate would take on lightly.
In a way, Price Charles is right. The RSPCA will do very well without pro blood sport Royal Patronage.
The Sports Minister, Tracy Crouch is particularly vocal against killing for entertainment, and with a growing army of opponents the poor old Countryside Alliance who, in spite of the bluster, are floundering in a shortage of funds and a lack of enthusiasm for their blood thirsty pastimes, can only fight back with smears and insults.
Tim Bonner took to Twitter again in a flurry of annoyance and accused Ms Crouch of having a sugar daddy in the form of Dr Brian May; Dr May is an important campaigner against fox hunting and the British badger cull.
With so many MPs, and 83% of the public, against cruelty to UK wildlife it is looking increasing likely that even with our pro-blood sports front bench, David Cameron will be unlikely to muster the numbers required for a free vote to repeal the hunting Act.
It’s far from over, however, and it would be a mistake to be too complacent.
We have just over four more years of Tories like Mr Cameron in power, and if we want to ensure the legislation to protect our wild heritage stays in place we must remain ever vigilant.
[The fight is far from over as "Ministers consider new body to prove hunting helps animal welfare to win over anti-hunting MPs"]
She is also looking at how badgers may interact with cattle as well as looking at farming practices which may reduce the risk of infection spreading.
So why is this happening? Why are David Cameron and Elizabeth Truss so determined to fly in the face of science and turn their backs on badger experts, scientists, vets and most of the country?
It seems they are also flying in the face of their own better judgement too, as in December 2014 they admitted for the first time that future culls might fail because of the small overall numbers of animals killed. Undeterred, Secretary Truss, after releasing the results of the 2014 cull pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset, said she is still determined to continue culling.
DEFRA minister George Eustice has been pressured from both sides of the debate as opposition MPs demand to know what justification he has for extending the cull to Dorset, whilst at the same time, South West Devon MP Gary Streeter wants to know when Devon farmers can expect to be able to kill badgers on their farms. This is a particularly alarming situation, as there is no way of knowing that the culls last year have made any difference to the disease in cattle, yet without any evidence to show killing badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire has reduced bTB in the cattle in those counties, the government is happy to slaughter more animals in Dorset, whilst Devon is clamouring to start killing too. It is nothing short of a national scandal that this Tory Government is treating British wildlife like so much trash.
For some reason which the Government refuses to divulge, there is no independent expert review process or analysis of the safety, effectiveness or humaneness of the culling and no satisfactory explanation as to why these issues are being ignored. So we have two failed culls and a third cull underway with extended parameters to include an extra county and no information coming out of Westminster.
There are some who are hailing the previous culls a success. One such is the sacked DEFRA Secretary Owen Patterson who lost his job due to the badgers moving the goal posts in 2013. His comments are based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence from farmers who said at the end of last year that bTB outbreaks had dropped from 36 down to just 12.
People in the anti-cull camp didn’t believe those miraculous figures, so they did a little research of their own and came up with an entirely different scenario which showed that whilst there had been a slight drop, it was nothing like the grand scale of things that had fired Mr Patterson and had prompted him to make such a grandiose statement. In fact In Somerset 2013, on the day the badger cull started there were 17 herd breakdowns inside the cull zone and on the last count, on 30 June this year, there were 14. The bad news for the cull “anecdotal evidence” success story lies on the outer edge of the zones, where consensus of scientific opinion had predicted an increase due to fleeing badgers. BTB had indeed increased by 50% from 12 cases to 18 since culling had started according to the same set of government statistics. These statistics were taken from the Governments own figures.
It was hoped earlier this year that the roll out would be shelved for 2015, but Liz Truss soon quashed any hope that sanity would prevail, and farmers began applying to Natural England to sign up for a licence to kill.
In April, 2015 the British Veterinary Association dissociated from the cull saying the shooting of free-running badgers at night had not proven effective or humane. The BVA did feel that some badgers could be culled but cage trapping was more effective and certainly more humane. It is also much more expensive too.
Those against the killing are mobilised and the wounded badger patrols are out in the cull areas again. It was reported in the Western morning News that Anti-badger cull protesters are defying their leaders and breaking the law to try to prevent the killing of badgers. One farmer claims the patrollers have been trespassing to free a badger from a cage
A video posted on the Facebook page of the Gloucestershire Badger Office shows a group of saboteurs crossing private land and then releasing a badger trapped in a cage.
CEO of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer said the Trust is supporting wounded badger patrols in all three cull zones in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset. But he said protesters should operate lawfully. Teams opposed to the culls have set up camps and are walking public footpaths in all three cull areas to draw attention to the Governments flawed policy on controlling bTB.
The anti-cullers have asked for more feet on the ground saying, If you are able to come to the zones and help, please do. Somerset and Dorset especially need more people on the ground. If you live in or near the cull zones and you can spare any amount of time to help, or if you are able to travel and stay at camp, please contact the organisers.
Western Morning news
Boxing Day Hunting
The traditional torturing of harmless wildlife is almost upon us once again.
The Boxing Day hunt is the biggest event in the hunting calendar.
It’s a culmination of the cruelty, and hunts up and down the country will be parading in town squares and pub car parks getting drunk on their stirrup cups. Immaculately turned out horses and riders in their scarlet jackets and tight white pants, the dogs, tails up, milling around, looking every bit the chocolate box scene.
The images will be in all the pro-hunt press, with captions describing how noble is the tradition of hunting, in a bid to convince those of us against the sport that it is a humane and popular part of wildlife management. Of course this is all staged, like a hall of mirrors, nothing is real or as it seems.
Behind the pomp and the spectacle lies a sinister truth which the hunters and the Tory government prefer to keep secret. These deceitful people have tried every sleight of hand to overturn the hunting ban and to date every trick has failed. It has failed because hunting is a cruel and vicious blood sport which has no place in modern Britain.
Pre-ban hunts killed about 5% of all of the foxes that die in a season, and almost half of those animals are killed during cubbing when hunts encourage new fox hounds to be savage with their quarry. There are actually many less foxes in Britain than there are hedgehogs. At a static quarter of a million animals, they are not overbreeding and they are no real threat to poultry or lambs. DEFRA (Department of Environment & Rural affairs) says foxes are no more than grade 2 pests, not even pesty enough to be grade 1.
It’s not only foxes who suffer in the war for Britain’s wildlife. Anyone who stands against the cruelty is labelled an extremist or even worse a terrorist. They are mocked and humiliated on social media and even sometimes threatened. The hunt saboteurs, who will be out in force on Boxing Day, are often beaten and bullied by the hunt stewards (terrier men and women) and sometimes the riders themselves like to join in too. To avoid reprisals many saboteurs cover their faces, a practice emulated by the hunt minders who cover up so they cannot be recognised when committing acts of violence or damaging cars or stealing cameras etc. from the saboteurs, many of whom are young females.
The terrier men, or hunt heavies, who accompany the hunts and who act as their personal police force, won’t be around at the Boxing Day spectacle. To allow them to parade on their quads would spoil the image the hunters are trying to portray. Their job is to intimidate saboteurs and block pathways in order to prevent them gaining evidence of illegal hunting. The terrier men also block up badger setts so that the poor fox has nowhere to hide. If the unfortunate animals ARE able to go to ground, the terrier men dig them out and either shoot them, bludgeon them or they are thrown to the dogs.
Eighty per cent of the population, including people in rural areas, are against the horror and the cruelty of hunting, yet in spite of this the hunting ban is in great danger of repeal because most of MPs on the Tory front bench are hunting enthusiasts themselves. David Cameron has promised repeal before the end of this parliament, yet how can we let this barbaric practice become legal once again? The legislation we have today was 10 years in the making and when the Bill was eventually brought before the MPs for discussion, it took over 700 hours of Parliamentary time and so powerful and determined were the hunters that in the end the Labour Government had to use the Parliament Act to force the legislation through into Law.
So what can we do?
The first thing and the most important is to join the League Against Cruel Sports and join or support the hunt saboteurs. It is also vital that everyone against this vile form of entertainment writes to their MP and explains why we must keep the ban on hunting.
Tradition is no excuse for this savage cruelty; we must fight hard because the hunters never give up.
Lamerton Hunt - Illegal Hunting? https://youtu.be/m98BSocqkfI via @YouTube
Country lover, amateur naturalist and fox lover fighting to preserve the ban on hunting