If you picked up the Hereford Times after Christmas you would probably have been mistaken for thinking that a number of great sporting events had taken place in the county on Boxing Day, all jolly good family fun and in keeping with the law. However nothing could be further from the truth.
The paper reported that the South Herefordshire Hunt had ridden off from the Castle House hotel in Hereford, accompanied with a number of pictures and reports from elsewhere in the county. What their piece failed to report on is the reality of foxhunting in the countryside – the sometimes lengthy chasing and torturous killing of wild animals, continued flouting of the law, disregard for the safety of humans and hunting animals, violence and intimidation towards those who disagree.
So far this hunting season, in the Herefordshire area alone:
• Lee Peters, the huntsman of the Ross Harriers, was fined nearly £3,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing a hunt saboteur and threatening another with violence.
• Paul Standen, a follower of the same hunt, plead guilty at Hereford Magistrates Court to assaulting two saboteurs on a separate occasion.
• The hounds of the prestigious Ledbury Hunt were filmed ripping a fox apart. The footage was released online and a debate on BBC Hereford & Worcester followed, although the hunt declined to be interviewed.
• The North Ledbury Hunt were reported to have chased a fawn through a West Malvern residents’ garden.
A vast number of similar incidents have happened elsewhere in the country, notably the RSPCA driven prosecution of Cameron’s old haunt, the Heythrop Hunt, for illegal hunting.
Hunt saboteurs and monitors continue to watch the hunts and prevent them from carrying out any illegal hunting in the county every week, despite frequently facing violence and intimidation, often from some of the hunts mentioned above. Saboteurs have reported numerous successful outings to the Ledbury Hunt, Ross Harriers and a number of hunts in neighbouring counties this season.
To see their work, to donate or to get involved visit:
Hunt Saboteurs Association (national)