Hunts are still flagrantly chasing and killing foxes despite the fox hunting ban coming into force 15 years ago.
Coronavirus may have signalled an early end to the fox hunting season this year, but the blood sport is still rife fifteen years after it was banned, according to new figures released today.
National animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has compiled eye-witness reports relating to 485 incidents of suspected illegal fox hunting activity between October and early March. One gruesome report also included a ginger kitten being ripped apart by hunt hounds.
In total, the League received reports of 38 foxes witnessed being killed by the hunts during the past season and 15 reports of highly suspected fox kills.
Backed up by these figures, new polling commissioned by the League and undertaken by Survation shows that more than two thirds of the British public believe hounds still hunt foxes.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Our figures sadly show the shocking extent to which the hunts are still flagrantly chasing and killing foxes despite the fox hunting ban coming into force 15 years ago.
“These figures are based on the intelligence we have gathered throughout the season, and we fear the true figure could be much higher.
“The vast majority of the British people oppose fox hunting and yet our polling reveals that most are aware it is still sadly going on – it would be a popular move by the government once the current Coronavirus crisis ends to take the steps to consign this brutal activity to the history books.”
The eyewitness reports relate to 110 different fox hunts across 54 counties in England, Scotland and Wales.
Hunts will often use the excuse they were ‘trail’ hunting, which purports to mimic traditional hunting in all respects, except that hunts claim to be following an artificially laid scent.
It is often indistinguishable in practice from traditional hunting, other than labelling the inevitable chasing and killing of animals as an ‘accident’. However, this happens more by design than accident.
The figures also include 102 cases of badger sett interference, a common practice by hunts engaged in illegal hunting. The setts are either blocked up to prevent foxes fleeing underground or are dug up to get to a fox out. Both practices are illegal, and if ‘trail’ hunting was real, simply wouldn’t take place.
A fox had Sir Paul McCartney to thank for escaping the Dulverton Farmers Foxhounds in March. It was filmed by our staff fleeing into St John’s Wood wildlife sanctuary, on land which was donated to the League by Sir Paul to protect animals from being hunted in West Somerset.
Hounds from the Four Burrows Hunt chased a bleeding fox through another wildlife sanctuary near Truro in Cornwall in February 2020, the fourth incident of trespass on that land in recent years by the same hunt.
In the same month, hounds from the Wynnstay Hunt killed a fox in a private garden in Aldersey in Cheshire, in front of the residents’ young children.
This article is based on a press release from the League Against Cruel Sports.