A busy day with lots of parts to it…
‘This morning prior to the Heythrop meet (happening right now) at Swell Wold Buildings, 6 Badger setts were found blocked and quad bikes monitored from 05.30 this morning. If you live in the Stow on the wold area please keep an eye out for illegal hunting. This is in the middle of the North Cotswold cull zone’
Further sett-checking was done the following day…
‘Thursday 16th March 2017 . Following the Heythrop closing meet at Swell Buildings yesterday, further sett checking continued today. So far 8 blocked setts have been found where they were hunting and there will be more. One of the setts today was still blocked meaning that the badgers did not manage to dig themselves out last night. All setts checked were in the North Cotswold cull zone so the questions are….did the sett blockers disinfect their spades and quads? If not then why do vaccinators have to ? And why if the area is considered to be a tb hotspot why were hounds, quads and horses cross contaminating the whole area without any restrictions?’
Early afternoon as the hunt continued…
‘Heythrop Hunt hunting a fox just two hours ago. Hounds hunted him straight across a fairly busy road into Eyford Park…
Watch this space – more to come. And, just for our stalkers, even if it were just two hounds giving chase, they’re not supposed to ‘flush’ a fox into a wood…’
Adding more detail…
‘The first of two videos from 15th March 2017 when the Heythrop Hunt met near to Stow-on-the-Wold… The sett entrances shown in this video are only a few of those we found and unblocked. In total 9 setts were found blocked, many of which had more than 10 entrances.
Note the fresh injuries to roots, the grass still attached to clumps of earth in the entrances and the fresh greenery pulled out of the sett entrances, all showing that the setts had been very recently blocked’
‘Second video from our outing to the Heythrop Hunt…
Wednesday 15th March 2017.
The Heythrop Hunt held their last meet of the season* in Swell Wold, near to Stow-on-the-Wold. They changed their traditional ‘posh day’ to Tuesday instead of Wednesday last season to try and avoid attention from us and the Hunt Monitors but we caught on rather quickly and we heard that their last meet would be held on the traditional Wednesday again.
*this was the last meet of the season last year, but they then went away for two more meets, including one to Cornwall which we joined them at
We were out and about very early working alongside locals in the area with our sett-blocking patrols catching a man on a quadbike leaving an area where we were about to check a sett around 5:30am. Perhaps unsurprisingly the tracks from the quad led right to the sett and it was freshly blocked. Elsewhere other patrols heard quads in the vicinity of other known setts and, surprise, surprise, more tracks leading right to and then away from blocked setts. In total we found 9 setts freshly blocked and we gathered evidence of the blocking before removing the obstructions in order to give the badgers a helping hand while providing extra escape routes for hunted foxes. If following a trail, why block setts??
As the Heythrop Hunt have stalkers who follow our every move throughout the day we grabbed some breakfast before they spotted us and one of our group was dropped inland where she knew she could keep an eye on the hunt and on some of the setts which had been blocked to prove that the setts were blocked in areas the hunt would be drawing. Sure enough the hunt drew through and near to the very same coverts and, just after 1pm having drawn blank in a few areas, hounds picked up strongly near to her. The fox leapt a wall and ran uphill and straight past her with hounds just metres behind him, hunt staff and field following around the bottom of the wood and making no attempts to stop the hounds. Fox jinked around in the wood and crossed a fairly fast road into Eyford Park with hounds following close behind… fox had put some more distance between him and them at this point, but we are unsure as to his fate after this fast chase. For legal reasons we are currently only showing the first part of the footage, so watch this space in future.
Upon viewing our video online our stalker Lizzie commented that there were only two hounds giving chase and therefore the hunt was legal. It’s good that she confirmed, from a hunt member’s perspective, that they were indeed the Heythrop hounds and they were indeed chasing the fox. She obviously missed the clear third hound in the video and the fact that the fox was being chased down a field and into a wood… For it to be legal hunting a fox can be flushed by two hounds to a gun… flushing is being chased OUT of an area. Not into one.
It was clear by now that the hunt were likely to cause trouble on the roads considering their lack of concern for members of the public and their own hounds when crossing over into Eyford Park. Foot sab crossed over behind them and went inland in Eyford and, just after the hunt second-horsed near Kineton Hill, hounds started to pick up again and move towards her. A fox sprinted up a hedgeline away from the covert where the hounds were speaking and tried to go to ground in what looked like an old sett entrance, now taken over by rabbits, which had had a slab of rock shoved into the middle of it which stopped him making his escape there. A hunt rider holloa’d from a nearby field and huntsman began to bring hounds in that direction. Fox, meanwhile, made a run for it across fairly open land so the sun and warmth of the day would have been an extra help in reducing the scent left behind.
Around 5 quad bikes at this time were asked to follow our inland sab and she was swiftly asked to leave the land. As the Heythrop are scared to be caught illegally hunting (again) they tend to leave foxes alone when they know we have them on camera so she asked terrierman to pass on the message that she had fox and holloa on film (you know, just so that huntsman didn’t ‘accidentally’ give chase thinking it was one of those elusive trails…). He refused, but huntsman moved away from the area with pack tightly grouped and soon left Eyford Park itself.
Some strange incidents of road rage (between members of the public and hunt supporters) and a very odd, and insulting, racist remark made to another member of our group.
The hunt continued to draw and pick up on and off and, as the temperature became cooler and therefore better for scent, hounds picked up during their last draw and chased a fox around land and across the A424 (at rush hour) not far from Stow-on-the-Wold. The pack split and huntsman Charlie Frampton ended up on one side of the road… All we could do (especially when quadbikes were slowing us down) was to stop the car and put hazard lights on in order to warn traffic behind us… Unfortunately our stalker Di Campbell wasn’t so clever or responsible and, with hounds crossing the road ahead, yelled at us that it wasn’t safe to park (?!?) there and did not put her hazard lights on, meaning that fast-moving (and probably fed-up-with-the-hunt members of the public) swerved around the vehicles with no prior warning about the presence of the pack. She was probably too busy beeping her horn to prevent fox from breaking cover and filming with only one hand on the steering wheel to pay much attention to actual road safety issues!
When it was mentioned that huntsman was irresposibly calling hounds across the main road, stalkers Lizzie stated ‘how else would you get them across?!’ Hmmm… well 1. You don’t ‘lay a trail’ across the main road 2. You don’t allow hounds to chase a fox across a main road and 3. If you need to cross a main road you gather your pack up on one side and you have people on standby to slow down traffic while you cross at an open and safe point where you will be visible, can move straight to a clear area on the other side of the road at a sensible pace and carry on your way. Surely? No? Then you shouldn’t be in control of a pack of hounds… But we’re not huntsman or whippers-in so what would we know about basic common sense? When police were informed they told us they had already received other reports of the hunt’s behaviour, so we will be following this up.
With blocked setts, fox chases, holloas and hounds hunting across main roads, we think our evidence clearly shows that the hunt are not actually laying trails. Make up your own minds about it… Here’s the next one of our videos from the day.
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