1st Dec 2018
Hunt saboteurs claim illegal hunting is STILL taking place in the North West – more than 13 years since the ban came in to force.
Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs meet every Saturday and occasionally midweek to follow various hunting groups while trying to put a stop to any potential fox hunting.
They claim illegal hunting is going on – but hunts insist they are complying with the law and branded the claims "spurious", while police say they would investigate any potential crime were it to be reported.
The fox hunting law ban came into place in 2005 under the Hunting Act but some are calling to have this law repealed.
The Act bans the hunting of wild mammals with hounds including foxes, deers, hares, and mink with hounds in England and Wales. Anyone found guilty of this offence under this Act can be expect to be fined.
However, the ban doesn’t affect the practise of ‘drag-hunting’ which is where hounds follow an artificial scent.
The saboteurs – and what they claim
Regan Sechuran, 20, from North Liverpool, a member of the Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs or "Sabs", said: "This is the third season that the sabs have been doing this. The group was formed around two and a half years ago."
The Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs’ Facebook page describes themselves as: "autonomous individuals dedicated to saving the lives of hunted animals through non violent direct action."
The group claim that ‘illegal’ fox hunting is still happening across the UK despite the ban.
Regan said: "We’re a mix of people of different ages and backgrounds, some of us live close to where the hunts take place but some of us come from Liverpool, Manchester, and Cheshire.
"People see our Facebook page and support what we do so they get in contact to join us. Our main aim is to prevent the fox hounds from finding the scent of a fox by using the huntsman’s tactics against him."
The Saboteurs say they practise non-violent techniques to distract the hounds, as Regan explained: "We use horn and voice calls to distract the hounds against the wishes of the huntsmen and the sound of a whip crack which encourages the hounds to stop searching.
"We have a small but powerful speaker which plays the sound of hounds ‘in cry’ to encourage them to run towards the speaker and away from the fox.
"We also use a citronella and water spray to cover the ground after a fox has been sighted to prevent the hounds from finding the scent."
What do the hunts say?
A spokesperson for the Cheshire Forest Hunt said: “The Cheshire Forest Hunt operates within the law to comply with the Hunting Act 2004. Hunts are regularly subjected to spurious allegations regarding their legal hunting activities. If there is any evidence to suggest illegal hunting has taken place then it should be reported and investigated through the correct channels.”
Police: any crime will be investigated
In a statement, Cheshire Police said: “Cheshire Constabulary are working with both the hunts and hunt monitors to establish a peaceful and lawful outcome at hunt meetings and understands this is a very emotive issue but we have to remain impartial.
"Police will balance community feelings with the lawful rights of those going about their daily business. Where a crime is believed to have taken place, it will be investigated thoroughly, fairly and with integrity.”
RSPCA: fox hunting is barbaric
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “The RSPCA will support the police, where needed, with investigations into claims of illegal hunting, and encourage people with evidence to report this to the police or RSPCA as soon as possible. The Hunting Act 2004 protects wild animals from poaching, hare coursing as well as hunting with dogs.
“Fox hunting is a barbaric and brutal ‘sport’ that has no place in civilised society, and the RSPCA remains firmly against it. Many prosecutions have come about due to the evidence collected by members of the public because they feel so strongly that, as fox hunting is illegal, it needs to be properly enforced.
“It’s important to remember that the vast majority of the public – 85% – say they are against re-legalising fox hunting.
“We would urge anyone with information about illegal fox hunting to contact the police on 101 or us on 0300 123 8018."
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
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Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports