4th December: CVFH

Today saw sabs split, as we often do on a Saturday, and head out to different parts of our hunting ground (so to speak). Some of us met up with Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch to go to the Cotswold (and then on to the Heythrop Hunt following a tip-off) – separate report to follow, so watch this space!

Others teamed up with a sab from North Shropshire and a Welsh Borders sab to visit the Cotswold Vale who were due to meet near Clifford’s Mesne in the Gloucestershire cull zone. We stuck with them pretty well throughout the day, despite some silliness by some hunt staff and landowners on horses.

They picked up on a few occasions, we believe one fox escaped unnoticed into a badger sett and another trotted away from the hunt before they picked up on his scent and passed our sab who was car-sitting at the time and covered his line well. As usual car support and sabs ended up doing a better job than Scatterpack at keeping hounds off the roads while the new whipper-in / the guy brought in to babysit Scatterpack made up a new hunting glossary (just as we finished our glossary on our website!) with ‘what you playing at?!’ being shouted at the hounds to rate them.

Then again, maybe he was shouting at Cami, the other whip – we also wonder what she’s doing half the time! …especially when trying to use a whip. Video to follow from another sab :)

In the meantime we’d like to share this tribute from Animal Aid for a beautiful person some of our sabs are proud to have been able to call a friend for many years. She will be dearly missed but will continue to inspire many into the future.

Joan Court’s life as an animal and human rights activist was so extraordinary, so full of colour, daring and accomplishment, that many of us who knew her over the years almost began to think that it was a life that couldn’t be extinguished. But on Thursday December 1st she died at her Cambridge home surrounded by her beloved, aged cats. She was 97 years old.

Joan was driven, as you would expect, by a powerful impulse to expose and remedy injustice and cruelty. But that wouldn’t explain the woman she became. She told me many years ago that she was a born sensualist, her tastes ran to strong colours, perfumes and ‘exciting action’. It was these qualities, allied to her desire to (let’s be old-fashioned) do good in the world, that set her off on so many extraordinary adventures.

Her start was dramatic; her father being a solicitor who committed suicide, and her mother an alcoholic. She left school at the age of 12 but went on to qualify as a social worker helping damaged children, and as a nurse-midwife. She took these skills to impoverished regions of Turkey, India and the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern North America.

In 1946, she was organising midwifery services in the slums of Kolkata, when she got caught up in pre-independence riots and met Mahatma Gandhi. The Indian spiritual leader became the most important influence in her life, although at various times she was also taken by Quakerism, Buddhism and, as she put it, the ‘direct action of Jesus’.

Animal Aid had a large hand in helping her find her way to animal rights activism. She was given a leaflet, probably by our founder Jean Pink, advertising an anti-vivisection march due to be held in the city. The year was 1978. The next day Joan founded a new local group, which was soon undertaking all-night vigils in opposition to the use of animals in laboratory research. She went on to involve herself in every imaginable animal related issue – whether live exports, hunting, shooting, whaling and, of course, the meat and dairy industry. She was, as you would expect and as the Daily Express might put it, a militant vegan.

Her specialty was attention grabbing stunts, which were made all the more irresistible to the media because of her age. Her animal campaigning didn’t start until she was nearly 60 but there were frequent banner hangs from high places, public hunger strikes, sit-downs in inconvenient places, and she would make speeches and give interviews in which she refused to apologise for radical direct action or for those who carried them out – although she was opposed to violence.

Joan would prepare herself for, and then execute the most dramatic actions, quietly and methodically. Equally impressive was the way she allied her cerebral, intellectual qualities to her taste for drama and a love of attention.

She was someone who would not go quietly. At the age of 85, she joined the Sea Shepherd Flagship, Farley Mowat on a hunt for illegal fishing vessels in the South Atlantic. Out at sea, she busied herself mending nets, keeping watch and making tea.

Was she perfect? No, she was not. She could be self-absorbed, cantankerous, bossy and infuriating. But her friends were friends for life. I told her once how much she was respected and she said it wasn’t respect she wanted it was love. I told her she had that too.

Andrew Tyler, on behalf of Animal Aid

Busy last few days of November – CVFH x2 and VWH

Three reports to catch up on!

NB “riot” means that the hounds start hunting someone they are not supposed to hunt e.g cat, deer, hare.

On Saturday 26th November we joined with North Shropshire sabs to keep an eye on the CVFH at Apperley. Nick Hodges (terrierman) was seen looking a bit dodgy in a wood and it was suspected that he may have been preparing for a dig out. With sabs watching he had no choice but to leave. Later by Oddas chapel hounds marked to ground again with both terriermen Ben Hughes and Nick looking interested in the covert concerned with young Ben (also known to us as a cage trapper during the badger cull) joining sabs in the undergrowth. No dig outs that we know of smile emoticon:)

On Monday 28th November we joined with Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch at the VWH meet at Frampton Mansell. We had fun and games as they fled from us at the start and we caught up with them in Pinbury Park. Hound rioted on a hare and were swiftly stopped by hunt staff (they can do it when they try) just before they second horsed at Park Corner Farm. The afternoon was spent in Cirencester Park and Overley wood where a fox was hunted into a badger sett in Pinbury Park. With CIHW on the scene and regular checks of the sett for the rest of the day no terriermen approached and both fox and badgers were safe. We were told by some rather shifty looking characters that the kill figures had all been reached for this years cull as they dicussed all the guns they have, badger shooters? Maybe…

On Tuesday 29th November it was back to the CVFH from Longhope. This meet is basically a meander around the woods, the hounds riot on deer, the hunt staff spend hours getting them all back and then they go home. Today was no exception but this was a serious bit of rioting as there were many deer and the pack went in all directions… including across the A40; we received reports from members of the public as well as witnessing the chaos and trying to stop hounds. Eventually the pack was gathered and they went home. Accompanying the CVFH was South Herefordshire Hunt chairman Phillip Whitehouse. Of course the SHH hunt on Tuesdays but have been suspended in the wake of the fox cub travesty at the SHH kennels.

25th November: Ledbury Hunt

***Badger trap found outside of known cull areas***

Friday 25th November saw us head to the Ledbury Hunt who we had heard would be around Pendock. We found them soon after they left the meet, catching up with them at Berrow Hill (by Underhill Farm where the ‘lovely’ Will Hunt, supporter of the hunt, horse breaker and trainer and supporter of Vale Wildlife Hospital*, works).

*only because he agreed to make a donation as part of an apology to a 3C sab earlier this year (for hitting him in the face at a hunt meet)

As the hunt, and we, moved on, we prioritised checking on an area nearby (where we’ve caught terrierboy Oscar Bates and pals misbehaving in the past) in order to ensure no foxes had been run to ground. And we found a badger trap… Unfortunately there was someone skulking around in the covert, so we may have prevented something happening, but the trap had also been removed when we went back later.

The hunt later chased a fox over a couple of miles into an area near Welland where a number of badger setts have been blocked up badly in the past before hunt meets. Hounds sounded like they were marking to ground, so a sab ran in, finding the hunt trying to pick up again. Hounds began to speak and ran towards another covert, jockey David Mansell trying to ride at the sab but being told to stop by other members of the hunt and huntsman Mark taking the hounds away from the line and off to second-horse.

This area is one that the hunt could (and often do) spend a huge amount of the day in so it was obvious they had not intended to go there (apparently no one told the trail layer this…) as they moved swiftly on to Castlemorton Common before returning to Underhill Farm.

With the discovery of the badger trap in this area (which was not thought to be part of the Glos, Here or North Cots cull zones) this is a good time to plug some sett-surveying / training days in the three counties. The information gathered during surveying is vital both for when a cull comes to an area and for being more prepared when it comes to activities like sabbing hunts – our sabs have caught badger baiters and terriermen in the process of digging out setts and hunt supporters blocking them over the last couple of seasons.

Please get along to these if you can or contact us (or Gloucestershire Badger Office) for more information on surveying, culls, etc.

4th December – Cirencester / Cotswolds (click link to view event)

11th December – Malvern, Worcs (click link to view event)

If you are unable to get out there, but wish to support those out in the fields either share our posts or donate to paypal.me/threecountiessabs All donated money goes directly into sabbing hunts and culls. There’s a job for everyone – get in touch if you would like to help in any way. Thank you!

22nd November: CVFH

Ah, facebook playing up again so no photos for now – we’ll post later – of the Cotswold Vile Farmers’ Hunt who met today near to Newent with horse boxes parked up at the Birds of Prey Centre. Huge thanks to the couple who spotted the hunt and called them in – we caught up with them not long after they left Acorn Wood.

We believe they marked to ground on a couple of occasions today with Master Golding and pal acting suspiciously throughout the day and various warnings being called around about our presence.

The trail layer was obviously very lazy today and only laid one line (or, more likely, the fox was jinking back and forth within the long wooded areas instead of breaking into the open). The slightly soggy surroundings obviously did nothing to dampen Frenchy’s wit as he grinned (like a 12-year old bully who’s spent all night thinking of a clever insult) and said ‘you’re really behind today’… whilst we stood next to him (not behind) having been keeping a close eye on him for the past hour and a half.

Cammy the whip seemed to have half-killed her horse who she was making canter uphill as he wheezed loudly…

In the absence of pictures we’re including a checklist of things which must be present during the day in order to count as a proper Cottie Vale meet (numbers given are a minimum):

1. Simon Scatterpack losing hounds x3
2. Hounds running on main road x2
3. Number of hounds lose on road during #2 = 4
4. Chris Golding and pal having to rate hounds from quad to help out Scatterpack x5
5. Golding and pal having to gather hounds for Scatterpack because they pay little attention to him x7
6. Average time to gather whole pack = entire day
7. Number of hounds loose at any given time = 6
8. Average time to gather decent number of hounds = 20mins
9. Number of (attempts at) witty comments = 47
10. Number of actual witty comments = 1
11. Number of mounted / car / foot support = 7

We’re out again another 2 – 3 times this week. If you can chuck us a bit of money to help with fuel, please do so. The bet is also still on as to when Simon ‘Scatterpack’ Frenchy gets fired by the hunt – send us a quid with a note attached with the date you think he'll be told to go and win a set of our greetings cards if you’re the closest bet – paypal.me/threecountiessabs

Thanks! 3C

21st November: Ledbury Hunt

A wet day out with the Ledbury Hunt today who met near Castlemorton Common and hunted around the Common and just a little way into the fog-topped Malvern Hills. We’re back in black again which hasn’t happened since Will Goffe was huntsman a few years back! With two wardens out from the Malvern Hills Conservators there was a lack of obvious terriermen and no quadbikes (the MHC confirmed to us that terriermen are not permitted on the hills earlier in the year).

We had spotted a known terriermen with some other supporters in a black 4×4, at one point hanging around a known area where there are badger setts (previously messed with by that same terrierman). Setts were checked and found to be untampered with and supporters left while we were in the area to continue following the hunt, so all good.

It was an early pack up due to the weather which seemed to have dampened their usual wit as well as the best we got was some hilarious and totally original comment about how the rain would be good for having a wash in… Well, perhaps, though it was a bit unpredicatble and you’d probably have just got all lathered up and the rain would have eased off and then what? Not worth the risk really when there’s a perfectly good shower at home.

Not a bad start to a busy week – keep your eyes peeled for us out in the fields over the next few days!