The 2018/19 season started with sett-surveying new badger culling zones and old ones. Gloucestershire cull ‘zone one’ commenced culling on the 28th June 2018 with both cage trapping and free shooting. The first cage was found on 11th July (after the licences were announced on 9th July 2018) in a heat wave…
This meant an almost daily presence in the field, checking for cull activity, right through until cage trapping stopped on 30th November 2018 and a bit beyond that until all (legal) culling finished on 15th January 2019. This was the longest government-sponsored cull in history at 6 and a half months but received barely a mention from the press. Hats off to the local groups who fight badger persecution in that zone all year round with hardly any support, especially Newent badger Alliance and West Gloucestershire Sabs – please give them a like on facebook.
We have, once again, witnessed multiple incidents of illegal fox hunting over the season. Some examples are mentioned here and some have vimeo links. We have found less blocking of setts this season than in the 2017/18 season as hunts became far more wary of being filmed and reported to the police. Our campaign against sett-blocking (in partnership with Cirencester Illegal Huntwatch) over the last few years has had an impact, with some media interest although this referred to “some monitors” rather than actually credit sab groups who did the work on the ground, compiling the spreadsheets and hours of office work which was needed to expose the practice. But we’ve had an impact, which is the important thing.
Gloucestershire Constabulary’s wildlife officers have also adopted preventative measures to stop this criminal activity. Considering that badgers were being culled in Gloucestershire zone 1 from early July 2018 until January 2019 the fact that we were finding blocked and dug-out setts in the zone during this culling period exhibits a disgraceful attitude to wildlife and biosecurity. No wonder that the bTB rates are rising within that cull zone, where the Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt and Ledbury Hunt continue to blatantly chase foxes and dig-out at every opportunity. In the case of the Ledbury, sett-blocking continues albeit decreased in occurrence. The Ledbury also continue to hunt the South Herefordshire Hunt country with many ex-officials of that disgraced hunt in attendance at meets and wearing their hunt colours and buttons. They remain under restriction while the fox cub case goes to trial in the near future. As can be seen from the footage the Ledbury are blocking setts and blatantly fox hunting. Herefordshire Sabs also filmed them digging out a badger sett.
A separate document will be produced with Cirencester Illegal Huntwatch concerning badger sett vandalism over the summer months, all of which are already in badger cull areas or will be in the near future. Season 2017/18 blocked sett data is included herein partnership with Cirencester Illegal Huntwatch. We would like to thank all of those who have supported us with information, donations, pickups and technical support. We would urge any hunt supporter to examine their conscience, to stop supporting this cruelty and to speak out against what is, in essence, tormenting a living being for amusement. It may be that you are opposed to dig-outs, badger-sett blocking or some other aspect of hunting; if so then speak out in your own circles, refuse to tolerate it, expose it if you can find the courage to do so. Regardless, we will continue to gather evidence against illegal hunting, intervene to help the hunted and expose what is going on. Only the very naïve can now believe in the nonsensensical myth of “trail hunting”.
The following links to articles are also available for further information and we are working hard on more articles and research:
Examples of hunting incidents over this season:
Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt (in partnership with Cirencester Illegal Huntwatch):
Monday 8th October 2018, Rodmarton – hounds stopped from hunting a fox by sab’.
Monday 17th December 2018, Bowldon. Several blocked setts, hounds marked a fox to ground, ran onto the A4135 on several occasions, hunted through a garden in Tetbury and a sab’ was hit in the face for filming it all. The assailant accepted a caution after being questioned by Gloucestershire police (incidents 400/402/297 and 426-17/12/18)
Wednesday 23rd January 2019, Horton Hall Farm. First drew back of farm. Fox came along hedgeline by pheasant feeders, line sprayed out and hounds came soon after picking up the scent. Master and huntsman Matt Ramsden abandoned that hunt and went off elsewhere.
Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt:
Thursday 20th September 2018, Pirton Pool. Were found holding-up. “Holding up” is a technique adopted during cub hunting whereby hunt followers surround a small wood (for example) and purposely frighten any fox cubs back in towards the hounds. Incident number 80-S-20/9/18
Saturday 27th October 2018, Opening meet at Peopleton. Hunt trespassed in an orchard despite landowner presence. Hunted across road and blocked and dug-out a badger sett. Hounds hunted through Worcestershire Wildlife Trust land. Found digging out AE / drain but stopped by sabs. Incident 341-S-27/10/18
Saturday 7th December 2018, hunt tip-off called in around Upton Snodsbury. Pre-hunt blocked sett – incident 310-S-8/12/18. They hunted around White Ladies Aston and crossed the A422 in very dangerous conditions to Churchill Wood. They got very defensive and were acting dodgy at Lowhill Covert and the coppice.
Sunday 27th January 2019, post-hunt sett-checking the area the hunt had been on Saturday. Dug-out sett incident no. 696-S-27/1/19.
Cotswold Vale Farmers’ Hunt:
Tuesday 23rd October 2018, the hunt met in a field near Barrow Hill Farm. Fox killed and sab’ assaulted – incident 97-23/10/18.
Tuesday 6th November 2018, CVFH opening meet at Apperley Hall Farm – split pack from the start as they rioted (“riot” is hunting an unintended quarry) on deer and got into trouble with the wildlife trust. Blocked badger sett found – incident 387-6/11/18. Within Gloucs supplementary cull zone, during the cull period.
Tuesday 8th January 2019, at Old railway, Longhope. Two foxes came past a sab who stopped the hounds hunting them – later a fox went to ground in a badger sett and the presence of a sab with camera meant that they dispersed rather than dug-out. Incident 195-8/1/19
Saturday 26th January 2019, Byford’s Farm in Taynton. A fox went to ground in a badger sett; small stand off between sabs and hunt and the fox was left alone. Within Gloucs supplementary cull zone, during the cull period.
Tuesday 29th January 2019, CVFH / Ledbury joint meet near Ross-on-Wye. Badger sett dug-out by terriermen – incident 88-S-31/1/19. Within Gloucestershire supplementary cull zone, during the cull period.
Saturday 2nd February 2019. The hunt were in the Apperley area – very icy, terrierman (who stank of booze) riding quad very close to sab’ being threatening – incident 283-2/2/19.
Tuesday 5th February 2019, Prior’s Norton. Fox ran through Prior Grove and a sab’ stopped the hounds; the huntsman then encouraged the hounds onto the fox and threatened the sab’. Incident 221-5/2/19
Tuesday 5th March 2019, Norton Court Farm. The hounds rioted on a herd of deer at the back of Benge’s Farm – pack stopped from continuing to hunt them by a sab’.
Tuesday 19th March 2019, closing meet Moat farm, Sandhurst. Terriermen pulled out tyres from a large pile where a fox was hiding – the fox was then hunted by the hounds who were encouraged on by the huntsman. Two Bristol sabs who had filmed it were attacked and had their cameras stolen. A 3C sab was whipped by the huntsman when the sabs tried to stop the hounds from hunting the fox at Mussell End – incident 19/3/19
Saturday 24th November 2018, near Slaughter Woods. A badger sett was found netted with masked up terriermen on it – they retreated when challenged by sabs – incident 181-24/11/18
Saturday 9th March 2019, Sarsden. 3 blocked badger setts found, others found by local people later. Hounds ended up in sewage works. With Oxfordshire Against The Cull.
Friday 2nd November 2018, Corse Lawn Hotel. Blatant fox hunting and blocked badger setts – incident 393-2/11/18. Within the Gloucestershire cull zone with the cull in progress
15th November 2018, post-hunt sett-check as Ledbury had been at Underhill Farm on Friday 9th November and gone towards Upton. Several blocked setts found in usual haunts. Incident 251-S-15/11/18
Friday 23rd November 2018. Blocked badger setts in the Gloucestershire cull zone with the cull in progress. Incident 191-23/11/18. At Staunton coppice a fox was hunted but seen safely away by sabs
Monday 26th November 2018, Hunter’s hall, Castlemorton. Malvern Hills Conservators out to keep an eye on the hunt. A fox was hunted by hounds on the common. After around an hour or 2 there they crossed over to Drugger’s End. Terriermen trying to put branches down entrances of a badger sett on Castlemorton Common were stopped by a sab. Opposite the church they put up 3 foxes, 2 running through gardens – most of the pack were stopped from the footpath by sabs. The third fox ran to a roadside drain and was left alone as a sab was present filming. Another badger sett found blocked – incident 589-26/11/18
Friday 14th December 2018, Underhill Farm. On the lane running by the farm supporters were hanging around a gate and very excitedly were pointing at a fox who was crouching down trying to run towards the motorway. They were summoning the whipper-in and together they headed the fox. Attempts were made to by the huntsman to put the hounds on his line.
Monday 31st December 2018. Badger sett was blocked from Christmas Eve (when the hunt met at Pigeon House Farm in Eldersfield) but badgers had dug their way out. Incident 251-31/12/18. This was in the Gloucestershire supplementary cull zone during the cull period.
Friday 4th January 2019. The hounds were up Limbury Hill and then found a fox at Blackwell’s End Farm – a holloa was heard from a hunt follower on the road as sabs from up the hill used voice calls lifting the hounds’ heads. After second-horsing at Tweenhills, they crossed the A417 and hunted a fox through gardens at Broad Street, Hartpury. One quick thinking householder, after seeing the fox flee for his life through his garden, ran out and rated the pack of hounds away from the hunted animal. Quite a few people not very happy and asking lots of questions! Then a repeat performance as they approached Ashleworth…
Onwards then to Ashleworth Meadows where they hunted a fox towards Haw Bridge. A sab’ filmed the hunted fox from near the pub and he went to ground in a small hole – hounds tried to dig him out again as they marked but were pulled out physically by sabs. Wisely the hunt retreated, but not so wisely they then crossed the main road and hunted another fox in the dusk up to Cumberwood Farm and back down to the outskirts of Tirley, finishing finally in the dark. Another blocked badger sett was found at the end of the day. Incident 283-4/1/19. In the Gloucestershire supplementary cull zone during the cull period
Friday 11th January 2019, Manor farm, Longdon. Terriermen noted by stickpile at Longdon Marsh. Terrier heard within pile. They stayed a long time fully masked up. Hounds then hunted a fox to Longdon where he went to ground in a badger sett. They then went to the stick pile with hounds marking it and some getting right into it. As a sab’ approached some riders tried to stop them. When sab’ dodged past them they backed off and called the hounds back. They went on towards Hill End, picking up another fox and hunting him towards Eastington Hall where hounds were successfully rated off him by local people. A fox was filmed running from hounds and she looked heavily pregnant…
A badger sett was found blocked. They then hunted towards Upton. Sabs approached on foot to a sett, heard voices and then a quad leaving the area. Fresh human footprints were near the sett. They hunted another fox at Queenshill Manor with one man trying to head the fox away from us but they left him in some thick brambles. One little fox seen utterly exhausted after a long hunt. Incident 0542-S-11/01/19
Friday 15th February 2019, Whiting Ash Farm, Berrow. Sabs verbally threatened. 3 badger setts found blocked and one had bricks down it. At Long Covert (Queenshill) a fox was hunted out with hounds close on his tail, through Heath Hill Farm and hounds were encouraged on by the huntsman. Car wing mirror was kicked and damaged. Incident 720-S-15/2/19
Friday 22nd February 2019, Forthampton. A badger sett found blocked – incident 166- 21/2/19. In Chaceley a fox was seen trying to cross a field with sheep and was spotted running up and down fence trying to get out (unusual for a local fox who knows where he’s going, let us put it that way!). Hounds were rated back by a sab’ but the huntsman encouraged them on
Friday 1st March 2019, Stonebow Farm, Ashleworth. A fox was hunted away from some gorse, but came back and hounds were stopped by a sab. The huntsman tried to find the fox again but failed
North Cotswold Hunt:
Saturday 22nd September 2018 at Wormington – the hunt went through Ryefield Farm (which had an ongoing bTB breakdown) and Wormington Grange where hounds rioted on deer and hares right by the B4632 before being stopped by hunt staff.
Saturday 29th September 2018, we found the hunt at Coronation Plantation / Buckle Street. A fox ran, a whistle was blown by supporters to indicate his sighting, we used gizmo and voice calls to intervene and they ran from us. On they went to Scarborough Pitts where they rioted on deer again, sab in field stopping them
Saturday 10th November 2018, the hunt met at Taddington. Late afternoon they found a fox and hunted him to Welshman’s where we stopped them. The huntsman encouraged them on and they hunted across the lavender fields towards Dulverton woods where they stopped as the wood is huge and the sun was setting – incident 382-10/11/18
Wednesday 21st November 2018, Cutsdean Farm, Cutsdean. The hunt were filmed by a Bristol sab’ as they were hunting through Guiting Quarry. At Carey’s Covert they drew a Brussell’s sprouts field and the huntsman came out quarry side on the footpath. The tail hounds suddenly picked up and a fox ran towards the gate. A man stood there wearing a flat cap and green coat who headed the fox – the fox jinked left and was killed by the pack as he tried to get through a fence. Sabs were both grabbed and stopped from filming. Incident 222-21/1118
Wednesday 28th November 2018. The hunt had met at Mickleton at Clopton Orchard farm, and we found them at Pebworth. They went to Norton Hall, came back and killed just off Broad Marston Lane. Incident 260-28/11/18 We saw terrierman running with something, someone else picked up another bit of fox and the quad was driven into the field to help the terriermen get away – electric fencing down and not put back on. Turns out they were trespassing and put a locals’ horses in danger of straying on to the busy main road adjacent to their field
Monday 3rd December 2018. Call regarding hounds running through sheep near Bidford. Incident 248-S-3/12/18. The hunt were found between Cleeve Prior and Bickmarsh, hounds heard marking. This continued for some time, so we suspected a dig-out. After a walk sabs came to a field where the pack were being held up by the whipper-in on his feet, huntsman mounted and the field the other side of the hedge. Three men were digging. Sabs were concerned that they may be near to getting a fox and so made their presence known. A fox ran and the hounds surged forward in full cry. The terriermen hurriedly mounted their quad and they hounds were hunted on. A badger sett with fresh spade marks, blocked entrances and a partially filled in hole was found. They hunted that fox through someone’s pond and gardens and the householder was very distressed. Incident 624-S-3/12/18
Saturday 5th January 2019, Springhill. Fox marked to ground in an old badger sett which had entrances rammed with staves (but not recently). They gave that fox best as we were on scene.
Monday 7th January 2019. The hunt chased a fox from woods near Weston SubEdge, but hounds were called off by a sab’.
Saturday 12th January 2019, Buckland. A sab’ staked out an artificial earth and attempts were made to bully them by the Field Master. 3 foxes were seen around the area. Hounds crossed the Gloucs/Warwickshire railway line and the B4632 in pursuit of one of the foxes. They then went to Stanway and hunted a fox actually on to the Gloucestershire/Warwickshire railway where they spent 5 minutes. Through Stanton and onto the hill. Sabs got up and found 2 couple of hounds doing their own thing and hunting a deer. They were stopped with a bit of rating. They continued to hunt until dark which included rioting on more deer
Saturday 19th January 2019, Bourton Hill Farm. Artificial Earth freshly blocked with plastic sacks and stank of fox – incident 128-19/1/19. They hunted a fox from Scarborough Pits and across road to Upper Slatepits where they lost him.
Wednesday 30th January 2019, NCH with Bicester (joint meet). A hunt supporter was filmed raising his hat and hazards on car to show hunt staff where a fox had run
Wednesday 20th February 2019, Honeybourne. A fox hunted from some hedges into a badger sett. Standoff as angry man on sett said he was landowner and pushed one sab, another sab’ was driven at. They then left without digging-out that fox. Incident 244-S-20/2/19
Wednesday 27th March 2019, Cotswold/VWH joint meet, Upper Rectory Farm, Daglingworth. Call out from a local and we got to them for second-horse. They went into Cirencester Park where one fox ran past 3C sab’ and one past CIHW. Hounds rated off and lines sprayed out. The huntsman hunted them on – incident 340-27/3/19
Sunday 2nd December 2018.A sett was checked and was freshly blocked, 2 holes unblocked by sabs. On camera a man with flat cap was seen blocking – incident 579-S-2/12/18
Wednesday 5th December 2018, Pigeon House Farm, Stock Green. Parked up at Stock and Bradley village hall. One fox seen being hunted, hounds rated back. Incident 0370-S-05/12/18. On rear dash camera an old man was seen peering through window with glasses and flat cap. On front camera a spade was filmed smashing windscreen. 2 side windows, windscreen smashed, back window smashed
Wednesday 12th December 2018, Church Farm, Cotheridge. After picking up intermittantly they went on to Allsetts Farm where the huntsman got off his horse and was walking over a pile of rubble. Then he called for the terriermen. Sabs were there quickly enough that no terrier, drain rods or anything else were used to evict any sheltering fox. There was a bit of a standoff with terriermen
Sunday 6th January 2019, the hunt had been in the Radford area the day before. Sett blocked at every entrance, badgers had not got out. A couple of entrances cleared by sabs so that they can feed, breathe, etc. Second time that we know of this sett being blocked this season. Incident 443-S-6/1/19
Wednesday 13th February 2019. Worcestershire were due to meet at Peplars Farm, Upper Bentley, Redditch. We checked setts, one had been dug out recently – incident 676-S-13/2/19
Saturday 2nd March 2019, Lower Bentley Farm. 3 blocked badger setts. Incident 479-S-02/03/19