* suspected bagged / trapped fox found near hunt meet * hunt trespass on land and struggle to control hounds *
We had a late-night tip-off that the hunt may be meeting in Willersey, so we headed out early to get inland in the area. As the hunt headed off from Downrip Farm just after midday (Mondays are late meets) hounds started to speak but were rated off a scent by hunt members and taken quickly west, out the back of the farm, followed by one sab. As hounds went into cry and went at speed inland, hunt staff failing to get in front of them as some of the pack headed closer to the A44, the other sab called and said that she had spotted a disoriented fox in a field next to the farm. The fox had his tongue hanging out and looked exhausted and was unsure of where he was…
… we have sent this footage to several people with a lot of experience with fox behaviour and the following theories came back:
1. fox has been hunted for hours already and is exhausted and dehydrated and out of his territory (as the hunt had just left the meet this isn’t the case)
2. this is a bagged fox, released in the area prior to the meet
3. experienced anti-hunt monitors who have gone undercover in the past told us of examples where pest-controllers have trapped foxes for people, given them the option of killing the fox or giving them a chance to live in the countryside and then have released them where they know their mates will be hunting later in the day
With no other injuries, collision with a vehicle and concussion can most likely be ruled out, so this leaves a lot of suspicion as to where a dehydrated and disorientated fox would come from… when foxes know their territory, particularly when hounds are speaking nearby, they will run with their heads down, knowing where they’re going, not looking around with their heads up and trying to find a way to go.
Back with the hounds and hunt staff struggled to gain control of the pack, but the majority were encouraged on towards a covert. Sab arrived and realised that a gate into the field where hounds were hunting and being encouraged on had been nailed shut. When the hunt met at Downrip in early September a landowner had been telling the terriermen off for trespass… this was the same land – the hunt were trespassing again. A fox escaped from the wood and hunt staff made vague attempts to gather the pack.
There are many reasons landowners may not want the hunt on their land, not all are anti-hunt (as we saw last week when the NCH trespassed near Mocho Farm). Dairy / beef farms may have bTB, other diseases may be present, pregnant sheep, sick animals, crop or wildflower growing, just not wanting a wet field ripped up by horses, hounds and quads. The arrogance of this hunt is clear to locals in their hunt country. Whatever the landowner’s reason for not wanting the hunt on their land, if they’re reading this or anyone knows them, contact @Hounds Off for advice.
The pack was gathered and the hunt rode off at speed – there’s no point being far behind them, so sab crossed the road and intercepted them, to huntsman’s surprise, around 20 minutes later. She stayed with the hunt while they hunted towards and on to a disused railway, picking up on the scents of several deer and a couple of foxes. Both sabs were now present in the area, until the hunt packed up just after 3pm, 2 non-road-legal quadbikes filmed, overloaded and on the public roads with the hunt.
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Thank you to all our supporters and those available to give advice, lifts, etc. last-minute!