Further arrests in South Herefordshire Hunt animal cruelty probe

Police investigating allegations of animal cruelty at a Herefordshire kennel have arrested two more people.

A 53-year-old woman from Abergavenny and a 45-year-old man from Powys were arrested earlier this month, West Mercia Police confirmed.

It follows the arrest of three people in June over alleged animal cruelty at South Herefordshire Hunt.

Police are examining footage from anti-hunt activists appearing to show foxes taken to the site to be killed.

A spokesman for the force said all five had been bailed until September while officers continue their investigation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-37099283

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Hare courser first to be jailed in Scotland from animal DNA

11 August 2016

The evidence from a hunting dog was used to snare three people for the crime in total.

A hare courser has become the first person in Scotland to be jailed using DNA evidence taken from a hunting dog.

Colin Stewart, 31, was handed a four-and-a-half month sentence after he and two other males were caught using dogs to hunt hares near Kirriemuir, Angus, in March.

All three, from Aberdeen, admitted committing the wildlife offence during their trial at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Raymond Higgins, 45, was fined £400 and disqualified from having custody of any dog for a year.

A 16-year-old co-accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a one-year supervision order and disqualification of custody of any dog for a year.

The court heard how witnesses reported the hare coursing to police on March 27, providing detailed descriptions of the men and the vehicle used.

Fiscal depute Fiona Caldwell said Stewart also took hares with dogs at locations across Scotland, including Tiree, between November 15 last year and that date.

Police later examined a Samsung video camera found in their van at Ladywell Farm, Kirriemuir, and found footage of the incident.

Ms Caldwell said the men had been engaged in "cruel sport" when police intervened.

She said: "At approximately 8.30am on March 27, a witness, aged 76, was at home when he became aware of the men setting a dog on a hare at Ladywell.

"The witness was also aware of a vehicle, a Ford Focus which was being driven and was associated with the people in the field. This was driven by Raymond Higgins."

Police attended and stopped the men in the van nearby, where they claimed they were searching for a missing dog.

All were arrested and their three dogs were photographed and swabs taken for DNA analysis.

DNA from one of the dogs matched a sample taken from the dead hare.

Mobile phones and a video camera were seized during the investigation and found to contain footage of the men posing with dead hares.

Dr Lucy Webster, of Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) said: "This case demonstrates the power of animal DNA in wildlife crime investigation.

"A dog DNA profile recovered from the hare carcass is a match to one of the dogs, providing very strong evidence to link these men to this specific hare coursing incident."

Detective chief superintendent Sean Scott, of Police Scotland’s specialist crime division, said: "Investigating wildlife crime can be difficult because of the nature of the crimes and the terrain where crimes occur.

"Hare coursing where dogs chase the animal is a particularly violent crime. Public awareness is crucial in helping us tackle crimes like poaching and hare coursing.

"The public have also played a major part in this investigation by providing such detailed descriptions and accounts of the incident."

http://stv.tv/news/tayside/1363640-hare-courser-first-to-be-jailed-in-scotland-from-animal-dna/

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What the f***

Not enough evidence’ to prosecute Warwickshire fox hunt members despite video footage
9 Aug 2016

Gruesome footage shows a fox being killed after it was set upon by about 20 Atherstone Hunt hounds

No action will be taken against a Warwickshire hunt despite video footage being released of a fox being killed by its hounds.

Warwickshire Police said there was ‘not enough evidence’ to prosecute members of the Atherstone Hunt over accusations the fox had been illegally killed – despite the video, witness statements and the hunt itself admitting that it killed the fox.

The video footage was taken by West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs and shows members of the Atherstone Hunt on horseback as a pack of about 20 dogs chase down the animal in a field.

As the hounds attack the fox, a member of the hunt reaches down and pulls the lifeless body of the animal from underneath the pack and slings the carcass over the back of a colleague’s horse.

The group then rides away towards colleagues in the distance with the limp body of the fox clearly visible.

But despite the footage, a spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: “Following an investigation by Warwickshire Police, the decision has been made that there is insufficient evidence to support a realistic prospect of a conviction in relation to any hunting offences connected to the Atherstone Hunt in Warwickshire.

“Warwickshire Police thoroughly investigate all reports of wildlife crime, we have specialist wildlife crime officers who investigate rural crime and work very closely with a range of partners to raise awareness.

“Our campaign ‘Rural Matters’ seeks support from the public to help put an end to wildlife crime and to report suspicious activity, either by calling 101 (999 in an emergency or if a crime is in process).”

The footage was shot in November 2015 and the hunt was on land which forms part of Fields Farm, in Grendon, near Atherstone.

Since 2005 it has been illegal to hunt foxes with dogs.

The maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine while police can also confiscate and destroy equipment and dogs used in hunting.

Individuals who refuse to comply with confiscation orders or fines issued could face further punishment, including a prison sentence.

A statement released by Atherstone Hunt at the time of the incident read: “Unfortunately while riding across an open field between trails, what we strongly suspect was an injured fox appeared in front of the Hunt within yards of the hounds who very quickly dispatched it.

“The incident was immediately reported to Warwickshire Police.”

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/not-enough-evidence-prosecute-warwickshire-11723557

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Evil scum

Teenager appears in court after alleged break-in at a cat sanctuary

1 Aug 2016

Frank Lyn Lewis is accused of stealing 10 cats and of causing the unnecessary suffering of two cats by stabbing one and shooting and stabbing the other

An 18-year-old has denied burglary following an alleged break-in at a cat sanctuary.

Teenager Frank Lyn Lewis will appear at Swansea Crown Court next month accused over the alleged incident at the Y Nant Cat Sanctuary in Port Talbot on Saturday.

Lewis is accused of stealing 10 cats and of causing the unnecessary suffering of two cats by stabbing one and shooting and stabbing the other.

The defendant, of Penderyn Road, Croeserw, pleaded not guilty to the burglary charge when he appeared at Swansea Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

No pleas were entered in the other matters.

The court heard the animal sanctuary was broken into some time between 10am and 7pm on Saturday with 10 of its elderly animals being stolen.

Three cats were subsequently found dead nearby while another three were found alive in a cage in a field.

The remainder have not been found.

Magistrates declined jurisdiction in the case and Lewis was released on conditional bail to appear at crown court on September 2.

A 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is due to appear in court on August 11 in relation to the same incident.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/teenager-appears-court-after-alleged-11690437

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Lady Scarsdale says she would like a machine gun to shoot badgers after ‘slaughter’ of lambs at her ancestral home

30 July 2016

A Viscountess has blamed badgers for the slaughter of 200 lambs on her family’s estate, as she called for a widespread cull of the animals.

Helene, Viscountess Scarsdale, a formidable aristocrat, said the lambs had been killed in three years, while also accusing the National Trust, which now owns historic Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, of allowing the badgers to “wreak havoc”.

She said 500 acres of “beautiful” parkland at Kedleston, which has been in the family for almost 1,000 years, had been allowed to turn into “thistles and nettles” by the trust, which in turn had let badgers thrive.

The National Trust took over Kedleston about 30 years ago. Their son, the fourth Viscount Scarsdale, lives in a wing of the stately home. She said she had been horrified by what she believes is the killing of lambs owned by a tenant farmer.

Badgers, she says, have also killed hedgehogs and bees in her grounds. Farmers have been demanding a cull of badgers, blaming them for the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

Badgers are protected but pilot culls are in place in Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Lady Scarsdale, 81, told The Telegraph: “In just three or four years, 200 lambs have been killed by badgers. They leave such a mess in the fields. They shred their victims immediately. Badgers are far worse than foxes. They eat everything.

“They have these claws and teeth that lock on. All they leave behind is the spine and skull.

“We need to get rid of the badgers. I would like a machine gun. I said to friends, ‘Would you visit me in prison?’ and they said, ‘Well, that’s where you will be’.”

Lady Scarsdale launched her assault on badgers and the National Trust in an open letter in Country Life.

She wrote: “This part of Derbyshire is suffering badly, and soon there will be no creatures great or small left in this beautiful park, which is fast being covered in thistles and nettles.”

She concluded: “I wonder if the trust would be brave enough to tell visiting children what happens to lambs, hedgehogs and fledglings here at Kedleston?

However, Professor Rosie Woodroffe, Britain’s leading badger expert and a senior research fellow with the Institute of Zoology, suggested that badger attacks on lambs of this scale are unlikely.

Prof Woodroffe said: “It is not inconceivable, but it would be very unusual for badgers to kill that many lambs. It would be a lot for badgers to eat.”

She said it would be more likely that the dead lambs were stillborn and that badgers had scavenged the carcasses.

“I would not say she [Lady Scarsdale] is definitely, definitely wrong, but I would be looking at whether this is scavenging of lambs that are already dead. Badgers are not good hunters; they are not agile animals,” Prof Woodroffe added.

She said badgers’ main diet was earthworms and they would eat hundreds in a night’s feeding. The National Trust said it would be happy to meet Lady Scarsdale.

A spokesman said: “In rare circumstances a badger might attack a particularly weak, isolated or ill lamb.

“We monitor and track badger populations. We are not aware of any evidence that this is an issue at Kedleston.

“If Lady Scarsdale would like to speak with the local team, we’d be very happy to discuss what can be done to ensure the sheep and the badgers – a protected species under UK law – can happily coexist.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/30/lady-scarsdale-says-she-would-like-a-machine-gun-to-shoot-badger/

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Three Merseyside men banned from taking hunting dogs into Lancashire

24 Jul 2016

Three Merseyside men have been banned from entering Lancashire with hunting dogs after being caught poaching hares.

James Reid, 31; Neil Walsh, 29 and Liam Doherty, 26, had already been the subject of a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) for Hunting Act offences which banned them from entering an 36,000 acre area of Downholland and Halsall with a sight-hound – the type of dog used for hare-coursing – or being with any person in that area with a sight hound.

They were each given an 18-month ban after being found entering farmland with four dogs with the intent of hunting brown hares.

In February the three men were found on land in Burscough, outside their prohibited area, but were summonsed for daytime poaching offences.

In April Walsh, from Bootle, was found in Altcar with his dog in the prohibited area.

He pleaded guilty to the two offences in June.

Reid, from Bootle , and Doherty, from Crosby , pleaded guilty to their poaching offence.

Lancashire Police applied for an extension of their existing Criminal Behaviour Order which was approved by Preston Magistrates Court.

The order has seen Walsh banned from being in the entire county of Lancashire a sight-hound, unless travelling in motor car on the motorway network, or being with any person with a sight-hound in Lancashire for a period of five years.

Reid and Doherty were given the same conditions for period of three years. All three were also fined.

A statement on the Ormskirk and Burscough Police Facebook page said: “This is the third CBO Lancashire Police have been granted and sends the strongest message to poachers and hare coursers that their barbaric behaviour will not be tolerated and we will use all the tools at our disposal.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/three-merseyside-men-banned-taking-11657637

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Man shot badger 4 times but walks free

14/07/2016

A MAN shot and clubbed a badger with his air rifle after it snuck into a chicken coop, York magistrates heard.

Liam Pointon, 26, shot the female badger four times and hit it over the head.

The animal survived but lost an eye after Pointon fractured her socket.

The attack happened on Meadow Farm in Cross Moor Lane, Haxby, where Pointon had been labouring and staying in a tenant’s caravan.

Catherine Turnbull, prosecuting, said the badger got into a hen house belonging to a woman on the farm, apparently to get eggs.

Pointon, of The Paddock, Wilberfoss, pleaded guilty to attempting to kill a badger. Magistrates gave him a 12-month community order with 150 hours’ unpaid work and a 10-day rehabilitation course to help him deal with depression and anxiety. He was also made to pay £85 costs and a £60 court surcharge.

After the hearing, Jean Thorpe, who helped nurse the badger back to health, branded the sentence “ridiculous."

She said: “The adult female badger was jammed into the egg-laying compartment of a small hen hut. She had blood coming from an eye and was very nervous and frightened. It was horrific.

"She will have been in considerable pain at the time of the shooting and beating and suffered the loss of an eye which may affect her survival in the future.

"The sentence was just not good enough."

Ms Turnbull said: “[Pointon] got into the hen hut and shot the badger four times with an air rifle, and then clubbed it over the head.”

A witness who had gone to check on her horses came across the scene at about 5.15pm on February 22.

“The badger had been hit with four pellets and its eyes were very bloody,” said Ms Turnbull. “It was not dead but very distressed.”

A police wildlife officer was called and the badger was given refuge at the home of Jean Thorpe, a Norton-based animal-rescue volunteer.

A vet found three pellet wounds to the badger’s skull and a further entry wound that punctured an eyeball.

A month later Mrs Thorpe released the badger into the wild after nursing it back to health, but she said the fact that it had lost an eye would hinder its survival chances.

Mark Whitfield, for Pointon, said he felt under pressure to kill the badger because it had got in among the hens and killed some, but the prosecution said there were only two hens in the hut and neither was killed.

Mr Whitfield said Pointon, who has no previous convictions, had since left the farm and now worked as a healthcare assistant in York.

“He will lose his job as a result of this conviction,” added Mr Whitfield. (COMMENT BY NWHSA – OH DEAR)

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/14619162.Man_shot_badger_4_times_but_walks_free__warning__distressing_images_/

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Hunting club must pay €4,000 compensation over injured bull

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Joe Leogue

A Cork hunting club has been ordered to pay €4,000 in compensation to a farmer after an incident in which its dogs distressed a number of his cattle, which in turn caused at least one of the bulls to be “physically unable to procreate”.

The order came despite members of the club having yesterday told Macroom District Court that its dogs were not on the farmer’s land on the day in question.

Patrick Kelleher of Shanakiel, Macroom, took the case against Macroom Foxhounds Hunt’s joint masters Donal Buckley and Francis Horgan, chairman Patsy Walsh, secretary Margaret Buckley, and huntsman John McSweeney. He sought compensation for the devaluation of the cattle as a result of the incident and for the cost of repairing fencing broken when the bulls scattered.

Judge James McNulty heard that the Macroom Foxhounds Hunt had organised a fundraiser in aid of the town’s community hospital on January 15, 2014.

Mr Kelleher told the court that the incident was “a total disaster” for him, as his his bulls were “mad”, “physically lame and unable to procreate” as a result of the run-in with the dogs.

His son Kevin Kelleher witnessed the incident. He said that he was in the farmyard at Cahernafulla, Rusheen, some 400 yards away from the incident, when around four or five dogs came through a forestry, across the public road, and into the field towards the bulls.

He said the bulls became excited, scattered, and some went through the field’s fencing. He left the yard and drove three miles to his parent’s house to inform his father as to what had happened

Andrew Scannell rents the field to Mr Kelleher and was on adjacent land at the time.

He said he was “shocked” to see the bulls scattering in different directions and saw the dogs, which he assumed had strayed from the hunt’s pack.

Local vet Tom O’Leary said that he inspected one of the bulls a fortnight or so after the incident. He said the animal had suffered lesions and scratches on its back and spinal injuries consistent with it having been stuck under a branch and forcing its way out. He said these injuries affected the animal’s gait and would impact on its ability to breed as it would not be able to successfully mount a cow.

The court heard from a number of witnesses who took part in the hunt, all of whom claimed that every one of their dogs stayed together in a pack and did not enter Mr Kelleher’s field.

Mr McSweeney said that the hunt that day involved 31 dogs, all of which were “well trained”. He said that the dogs did not come within half a mile of Mr Kelleher’s field.

He claimed that when subsequently making his complaint in a phone call, Mr Kelleher claimed to have CCTV footage of the incident, and also suggested that the hunt club could make an insurance claim, after which he would give Mr McSweeney and Mr Buckley €500 each. Mr Kelleher denied these claims in court.
Huntsman John McSweeney, of Macroom Foxhounds, at the court yesterday.

Mr Buckley supported Mr McSweeney’s assertion that the hunt came within half a mile of Mr Kelleher’s farm at most. He said the hunt went towards a wind turbine on a hill above a forestry that divided their group from the road and adjacent fields, but that they lost any scent of a fox and turned around.

He said that he went to visit Mr Kelleher after the complaint, and received “a heap of abuse” for claiming the hunt had not gone near his field.

Tina Healy told the court that she kept constant count of the dogs throughout the hunt, and that there were 31 dogs in the pack at all times.

In delivering his verdict, Judge McNulty reminded both sides that civil cases are decided on the balance of probabilities, and that he was to find in favour of the side whose story “is likely to be true”.

He said that while there was no evidence of erectile dysfunction or sterility among the cattle as a result of the incident, nor was there evidence that the dogs directly attacked the bulls, Mr O’Leary’s evidence had shown that the capacity of at least one bull to perform and to procreate was diminished due to a back injury.

Judge McNulty said that both Pat and Kevin Kelleher and Mr Scannell were credible witnesses, and that the members of the hunt were “good and decent people who gave truthful evidence as to what they recall from that day.”

“They have an enviable record of volunteering in their chosen sport,” Judge McNulty said.

“It is clear that their participation in their sport is to be cherished, respected and protected if necessary, but they must practice having regard to the rights of others.”

He said the crux of the argument was whether or not the hunt’s dogs went into Mr Kelleher’s field that day. He said it was “unlikely” that the dogs seen by Mr Kelleher and Mr Scannell belonged to anyone else, and that there was no evidence of any other hunt on in the area that day.

He found in favour of Mr Kelleher, awarding him €4,000 plus costs, but said that he respects the integrity of the respondents, and their accounts of the hunt.

“It’s like the story of the proud mother who went to watch her son’s regiment marching one day,” said Judge McNulty. “She went back and told her friends ‘they were all out of step, except for my Johnny’.”

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/hunting-club-must-pay-4000-compensation-over-injured-bull-409743.html

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Digging Out and more illegal hunting at the Pytchley Hunt

Hunt Saboteurs Association News Release 11th July 2016

Our second compilation of undercover footage shows the Pytchley Hunt digging out foxes and releasing them in front of the hunt hounds to be illegally hunted.

The footage shows the hunt terrier men digging out a fox, that has sought safety underground, after being chased by the hounds. Mounted members of the hunt sit and watch as the dig out takes place. Once the fox has been dug, it is released and the huntsman puts the hounds back on its scent, to continue chasing it.

Watch the video here – https://vimeo.com/174351014

The second dig out occurs after the hounds chase a fox into a badger sett. The huntsman calls in the terrier men, who again attempt to dig out the fox. On this occasion they are unsuccessful.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, said: “Once again we see the Pytchley Hunt desperate to chase and kill foxes. In this video they dig out the poor animals once they have taken refuge underground. Then release them just metres from the hounds in order to be chased once more. A practice so abhorrent that even hardened huntsmen feel it is beyond the pale. It is also illegal.

It is clear from the footage, that the Pytchley Hunt and its members, are totally complicit in flouting the Hunting Act. The casual manner in which mounted members of the hunt, sit and watch the dig out occur, shows how commonplace such practices are for this hunt. The huntsman himself is clearly shown, orchestrating the dig outs, as he can be seen calling in the terrier men.

We are pleased to see the Pytchley are no longer appearing at Countryfile Live. The BBC clearly do not wish to be associated with such law breaking. We now ask the Masters of Foxhounds Association and the Countryside Alliance what action they plan to take against the hunt. Following the recent expose of the South Herefordshire and now this footage of the Pytchley, it is important the pro-hunt community takes a strong stand against such law breaking, or they will be seen to be condoning it by the British public.

http://www.huntsabs.org.uk/index.php/92-news/press-releases/600-digging-out-and-more-illegal-hunting-at-the-pytchley-hunt

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