By Lee Moon
A lack of interest by the police and judiciary means hunters are getting away with ripping apart animals in the name of ‘sport’
Monday 30 March 2015
As a hunt saboteur, I spend every Saturday during the hunting season intervening to save wildlife. During August and September, when the hunts are training their young hounds to kill fox cubs, this means getting up at 3am to be in position for when they start their vile “sport” at dawn. Some people will ask what motivates an ordinary person like me to devote so much of my spare time to this. Well, it’s wrong to take the life of another being for pleasure. It’s worse to call it sport. And worse still to use so many resources to make the odds so unfair – the fox doesn’t stand much of a chance without intervention from “sabs”.
I started sabotaging hunts when I was 19 and hunting with hounds was still legal. I had never considered myself an animal lover but the idea of hunts ripping apart an animal in the name of sport struck me as unfair. I knew I had to try and stop it. While involved with an environmental group, I heard about hunt sabotage and went along to a meeting in the back room of a dingy pub. It was a whole new world and I didn’t understand much of what was being discussed, but I was determined to get involved.
My first time out sabbing was a gruesome and memorable day. I was petrified in the morning as we set off and had little idea of what to expect. Luckily, other members of the group were reassuring and welcoming. During the day, despite our best efforts, the hunt killed a fox. We managed to retrieve the body and discovered they had killed a pregnant vixen; two of the unborn cubs hanging out of her shredded body were still alive. There was nothing we could do and the cubs quickly died. I was sickened – my stomach turns when I remember that beautiful creature and her vicious death. The hunters present seemed to think this was acceptable.
A few weeks later our group intervened and saved a fox. We saw it running across a field and could hear the hounds in cry. One of the experienced sabs used horn calls to distract the hounds, giving the fox enough time to escape. I knew then that I had to learn these skills. These two incidents made me realise how effective we could be, and that’s why I’m still sabotaging hunts almost 20 years later.
When the Hunting Act 2004 became law in 2005, we thought we could hang up our sabbing boots and get on with our lives. But sadly this was not the case. Hunters, while trying to portray respectability, decided to break the law. Repeatedly, every week. Not the occasional “accident” but full-on defiance. Furious at having their “sport” curtailed, hunters continue to chase and kill stags, foxes, hares and mink. Hunting has been allowed to continue, largely unaffected by the Hunting Act due to a lack of understanding and interest by the police, Crown Prosecution Service and judiciary.
Hunt saboteurs use non-violent direct action to disrupt hunts. We care about all animals, not just the fox (or other hunted animals), so would never do anything to harm hounds, horses or indeed human hunt supporters. Hunts frequently believe and have propagated all sorts of crazy stories about us over the years, claiming that we are funded by the KGB, that we spray acid in dogs’ faces, and string piano wires at head height to kill hunters, and even stab horses. Why would a movement made up of vegans attack animals? The simple answer is that we don’t and never would. Only last week a judge, while throwing out a case against four sabs, commented: “All of you contribute immensely to society, not only in your working lives but in your free time. You deserve high praise for managing yourselves and your behaviour.”
In contrast, hunters often react with violence and aggression when sabs successfully disrupt a kill. I have been punched, kicked, spat on and beaten with sticks while sabbing, and other saboteurs have received far worse.
Mike Hill and Tom Worby were killed while disrupting hunts (although no one was ever brought to justice); Steve Christmas spent months in hospital after being run over.
To add insult to injury, the police are prejudiced against us. They prefer to act as private security for the illegal hunters rather than enforce the law. Even when confronted by terrier men, whose mere presence is a sign of lawbreaking, the police refuse to act.
David Cameron has repeatedly promised to repeal the hunting ban. This has only succeeded in highlighting the fact that hunting continues. The majority of the public believe this cruel sport ended 10 years ago and are shocked to find it still goes on. There is hope, however. Hunt saboteur numbers have increased significantly in the past three years, partly due to the unpopular badger culls.
So the situation a decade after the ban looks pretty similar to the situation a decade before it. Hunts across the country continue to chase and rip apart animals, albeit illegally now, and hunt saboteurs are successfully stopping them. One thing is for certain though – as long as people kill for sport there will be saboteurs.
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ManchesterHuntSabs
Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports