17 September 2015
Rutland’s Cottesmore Hunt employee Dean Jones, has pleaded guilty to unlawfully obstructing a badger sett.
In July this year, Mr Jones was charged with an offence of Interfering with a Badger Sett contrary to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, following evidence submitted to the police by the League Against Cruel Sports.
Mr Jones, described on Cottesmore Hunt’s website as its ‘countryman’ (or terrierman), was charged with stopping up entrances to a badger sett near Sauvey Castle, Withcote, Leicestershire. The offence took place on the morning of Saturday 29th November 2014, only a few hours before the Cottesmore Hunt set off from a meet nearby.
Before hunting was banned ten years ago, it was legal to block up badger setts to prevent chased foxes from escaping underground. But with the introduction of the Hunting Act in 2004, amendments were made to the Protection of Badger Act 1992 to outlaw the practice. Badger setts are now protected by law and it is a criminal offence to obstruct access to, or any entrance of, a badger sett.
Since it is also now illegal for a fox to be hunted down by hounds, there should be no need to block up badger setts anyway.
Tom Quinn, Campaigns Director for League Against Cruel Sports said: “It is hard to understand why this Cottesmore Hunt employee would be required to block up a badger sett just before the hunt set off, given that it is illegal for hunts to chase foxes.
“Sett-blocking by terriermen is one of the lesser-known but still very nasty aspects of hunting, involving cruelty not only to foxes but also badgers and working dogs. This prosecution demonstrates that it’s not only those that wear red coats that break the law, but hunt employees right across the spectrum.
“We’re pleased that justice has been done, thanks to the commitment of the Leicestershire Police, the CPS’s specialist wildlife crime prosecutor and our own League investigators.”
Dean Jones has been fined £250 for the offence. He must also pay £400 costs and a £25 victim surcharge.
- Video footage taken by the League Against Cruel Sports which was used as evidence in the prosecution is available here: https://youtu.be/zEUMh1ZuH8w
- This is not the first case where a hunt employee has been convicted of blocking up a badger sett.
In the case of R – v – Hopkins & Allen (2011), the judge said: “Stopping up of badger setts is capable of being evidence…of a decision having been taken in advance to hunt live foxes.”
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ManchesterHuntSabs
Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports