We were asked to delay putting this report out until late in the season and, with many hunts cancelling meets this week, it seems the right time to post. We will be releasing more information shortly which will explain artificial earths, their structures and uses more clearly. In the meantime please also look at our article on terrierwork which touches on them briefly
“In support of fellow anti-hunt people working hard in the badger cull zones we took it upon ourselves to take action against local hunts (and shooting areas) by sabotaging their artificial earths. With some artificial earths not being ‘badger-proofed’ there is always the worry that they are being used to more easily target badgers for baiting and digging, during the culls and so on. Our first step, obviously, is to ensure that no one is using the artificials as a home.
During the time that we were active in the area, we damaged or destroyed 6 artificial earths within the North Cotswold Hunt country, 5 used by the Heythrop Hunt, 4 in Ledbury Hunt country, 2 used by the Cotswold Hunt and 2 within Beaufort / VWH country. Our tactics included digging up and smashing pipes, removing / smashing bricks and slabs used to create chambers, filling the area with soil or using bricks and rocks that once made up parts of the artificials to block the pipes themselves – some of the areas have metres of backed-up bricks shoved into the pipes which would have to be dug down to and smashed in order to remove them as the entrances are fully blocked with no give in the materials used to block them. Lump hammers, shovels, crowbars, materials found in the local area… easy to conceal but very effective with a little bit of effort.
We avoided the use of products such as expanding foam due to the environmental impact that they would have. We also found a number of insects, spiders, frogs and toads living within the artificial earths who we would not want to harm with our actions. Many animals were moved to appropriate places nearby or returned to the area once our work was done – with many pro-cull and pro-hunt people constantly talking about hedgehogs needing more protection (and yet doing very little to support them) we created hedgehog-friendly log-piles on many of the ex-artificial earths.
To finish, we will briefly explain our reasons for doing these actions. Despite the fantastic, almost everyday work done by local sab groups (who we have informed of our actions partially so that they can get the word out there about them but mostly so that they know what has changed in the local hunt countries) they will never be able to keep on top of constant checks on artificial earths to ensure they are not in use / not being dug into, even when hunts are meeting close by (never mind days when hunt staff may go to them to capture foxes for release in front of hounds or for disgusting practices like those filmed at the South Herefordshire hunt kennels last spring).
Various ex-hunt supporters / staff who have turned anti-hunt have said over the years that artificials should just be smashed – they’ve been filmed on numerous occasions but carry on being used. Unless there is a case being built against a specific hunt and use of an artificial will be another nail in the coffin for them or if there’s nothing you can do to remove the artificial, get rid of them. Yes, they will build new ones, but many hunts and hunt supporters will be out doing so during and outside of the hunting season anyway. We chose this time to take action 1) because we are in a different area to where we live and are not known as ‘antis’ and 2) with the opening meets coming up soon (start of November) most fox cubs have grown and artificial earths are not currently being used as homes for them, only as places where foxes will try to escape during hunts (and will then be easily flushed / dug out and killed). It is also a busier time for hunts and their supporters as they are preparing for the full season and will have less time on their hands. Any newly-built artificials will smell of humans for longer too, meaning foxes are less likely to use them straight away.
Finally, a message to the hunters. We are watching and we are educating others. In this case, it was because many of you support the badger cull in the area that you have ended up losing artificials to us due to more ‘antis’ being in the area and more areas being checked as part of the anti-cull campaign. More of us will continue to take action like this in areas where wildlife persecution is increasing. But none of you are immune.
Please support the local groups here: Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs, Gloucestershire Badger Office and Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch: paypal.me/threecountiessabs”