13th December ’19 – Ledbury Hunt

The day started with sabs finding a blocked sett not far from Town Street Farm (the meet) near where the hunt were drawing through a root field. A huge amount of earth (which was heavy with clay and sodden, so stuck in large lumps) had been used to block the entrances so some were unblocked to allow foxes in and badgers to get out and safely reopen their sett from outside.

This sett is within the West Gloucestershire cull zone, a cull zone which is still active and is likely to be for several more weeks. Town Street Farm / Wigwood Farm, where hounds were searching for a scent next to cows in barns, is highlighted as having 4 separate incidents of bTB over the last few years, only regaining bTB-free status in February. Not a great place to hold hunt meets for a hunt who regularly mark to ground and block badger setts then if you’re blaming badgers for the disease…

Huntsman Mark Melladay was clearly over-excited about his new joke (it started on Monday, calling us ‘badger diggers’ due to us finding a shot badger stuffed into a blocked badger sett in November) and he couldn’t help repeating it with a proud grin on his face. Other riders obviously believed they could take some of the credit for this unprecedented level of wit by merely yelling it at us louder as they rode by… we’ve evolved to ‘badger baiters’ now apparently, though as that activity involves the use of dogs, so Melladay is clearly not au fait with his country ‘sports’.

Unsurprisingly the general election result was brought up and at this point we should apologise to those that follow our page… because if the laughter and jokes directed at us by hunt staff were anything to go by, it would appear that we have falsely given the impression that we are a group that relies on political parties and authorities to create change instead of taking grassroots action ourselves. And we are not.

Obviously many of the general public are upset with the outcome of the election, and sabs did vote in their respective areas, but regardless of who ended up in power today people would still be sleeping on the streets tonight, others would be out killing and disturbing wildlife and so on. Whatever side of the hunting argument you’re on, whatever privilege you have, step up and use it to help others.

It’s business as usual for us, as it would have been whatever we woke up to. 5th day out in a row this week as sabs.

And so back to the hunt… they picked up near Haw Bridge, traffic having to slow down on the busy main road as riders put drivers in danger once again in the area, hounds in brambles just metres from the road. They ran to behind Town Street and then past Cumberwood Farm before losing the scent and trying to pick up again in Wigwood Farm, cows in barns almost nose to nose with hounds. They failed to find and moved on. They returned to Haw Bridge again and just about got the pack across the road safely, Melladay and his whipper-in using the whips, that Melladay swore under oath a few years back were purely ornamental, to keep hounds from straying. A lying huntsman? Who’d have thought?

We lost them on and off through the afternoon, though they drew blank several times when we were with them in Ashleworth and Hasfield until they packed up just before 4pm.

9th December ’19 – Ledbury Hunt

* landowner admits not caring what hunt get up to on her land *
* hunt supporters trespass on land in front of landowner *
* hunt fail to apply for permit to use Malvern Hills Trust land *

We had a tip-off that the Ledbury Hunt would be out in the Castlemorton area. A quick check of the Malvern Hills Trust website showed that there was no mention of a hunt meet on their land – were the hunt avoiding their land or were the MHT not warning other users in advance of hunt meets? It turned out later that they hadn’t applied for a permit for being on the land and just decided to go there anyway later in the day, having hunted nearby…

One of our sabs headed to check a few setts around the area including one in a stream where the hounds marked to ground a few weeks back and another in a hedgeline where terrierman Tom Stokes (who was out and about on his quad near Castlemorton) prevented a fox going to ground on the same day. On coming back out to the vehicle, the landowner was waiting and seemed to struggle to think of what the hunt actually do, just repeating ‘they hunt within the law’ and trying to change the subject before driving off in a huff. Needless to say, we will continue to check on setts tampered with by the hunt and others.

We picked up one of the monitors from Fox hunt off Malvern Hills (they are fantastic, please check them out!) and found the hunt drawing through some fields and brambles not far from Castlemorton and Welland and for much of the time that we were with the hunt they drew blank *finding no scent) despite spending ages in some areas. A fox ran from the pack, who had split, a handful of hounds on his scent, before the pack followed the scent of another fox into The Stanks. It’s a large area with several coverts and places to hide up and one we don’t think they intended to hunt in, so as they spent little time inland there, we believe that fox managed to make his escape. Hunt supporters were told off for trespass and responded by telling us that we also trespassed (except for the fact that we are not the hunt and we are allowed on the land…).

And then the hunt headed for Castlemorton Common where two foxes were seen making their escape from the hounds and wardens turned up to keep an eye on the hunt as well, supporters loudly taking the piss out of the byelaws whilst standing near wardens and the MHT director, laughing about parking up in areas that were ‘residents only beyond this point’ and driving on to the grass even though they’re not supposed to. Tom Stokes was also present despite terriermen not being allowed on the Common, his overloaded and non-road-legal quadbike driving up on to the hills with the hunt. They packed up soon after, after a long time trying to gather hounds who were spread out through the coverts. We’ll let Fox hunt off Malvern Hills explain more about the MHT policy and how much of it the hunt breached.

Huntsman Mark’s wit hasn’t improved much lately and he referred to our sabs as ‘badger diggers’, referencing our recent disovery of a shot badger in a dug-out sett. We found out that Tom Stokes’ terrier is called Rodney after the character from ‘Only Fools and Horses’. As a vulnerable young man being used by the hunt we wonder if this is a small way of him scoring a point against them…

4th December ’19 – Radley College Beagles (and Surrey Union Hunt)

There was rumour of the Heythrop Hunt being in the Churchill area, Oxfordshire, on Tuesday evening. It was clear that they had been there but were not seen all day. 6 blocked badger setts were found during sett-checking the following day and, presuming that the hunt had blocked them late Monday/early Tuesday, most were still blocked with the badgers not having managed to dig themselves out.

As the worst blocked sett of all was made safe hounds could be heard and with a little searching the Radley College Beagles were found hunting a hare. Bear in mind that the fox hounds had hunted the exact same area the day before, wildlife get very little respite in the area.

When sabs were seen the hunt packed up and the last blocked sett of the day was found in the sunset. Bear in mind that on Boxing Day from their meet at Chipping Norton the Heythrop Hunt will hunt the same area and the same setts will be blocked yet again. Sett checking can save lives; please get in touch if you want to do this.

Meanwhile, another sab found herself down in Surrey for work and, in true sab tradition, the local group treated her to proper hospitality… taking her out to a hunt meet.

We ended up at the Surrey Union today who we were tipped off about and we got there just before midday (it was a late meet most likely due to the thick mist this morning) just south of Newdigate. Our sab became part of a running team with a couple of the locals and the hunt, having realised they had visitors, left the meet late and ran away miles to the north east and past several coverts they normally draw through.

With other sabs heading to intercept the hunt we very quickly caught up with them in a woodland where, initially, the hunt staff drew through completely oblivious to the fact that three of us were literally standing the other side of a hedge from them. Just after being spotted (some time later) we noticed hounds chasing a deer into the woods and told huntsman that they were rioting on the deer – huntsman encouraged the pack on, telling the sabs that “they’re not even going that way you silly woman”… when they clearly were. The deer got away and, as hounds were taken away from the wood, they rioted again and chased another deer into a fence before hunt staff managed to stop the pack.

We anticipated that they would hunt back towards the meet and sabs were waiting for them not far from there just minutes after they set off from the wood to the north (as they had ridden back at speed to try and escape us) – we stuck with them, hunt drawing blank, until they packed up.

Really good day with fantastic communication making us as efficient as possible. We alerted the hunt to two sheep who were running away from the pack and quad and towards a main road (probably due to gates being left open by the field…). A fox and a deer both got away from the pack unnoticed just before the end of the day with sabs covering the line. Aside from a bit of colourful language and strange theories from hunt staff and landowners it was otherwise a fairly uneventful day!

7th November ’19 – shot badger found in sett tampered with by Worcestershire Hunt

*** Badger found shot in a blocked sett with lacerations to back end *

* Worcestershire hunt mark a fox to ground at the SAME sett 2 days before *

* Badger cull due in Worcestershire in 2020 ***

On Wednesday 7th November 2019 The Worcestershire Hunt chased a fox into a partially blocked sett near Himbleton Worcestershire. West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs were in attendance and ensured that a fox was not dug out. On 25th November we were able to speak out about what we found later that week – the following is a brief report of that day…

On Friday 9th November 2019 we examined the sett (we always check on them for activity, etc after an incident) and saw that there was some loose earth – on moving some of the earth to check if the sett had been dug out, we saw a badger’s paw sticking out of a completely covered over entrance.

We retrieved the badger and found a bullet wound in her head and what looked like bite-marks on her rear end, which bled profusely. An X-ray proved that she had been shot.

Coincidence that the Worcestershire hunt terriermen were on that exact sett and are known for both digging out badger setts and blocking them? We are suspicious… did someone come back on the evening of the hunt to try to dig out the fox anyway and find a badger instead. With the other entrances blocked, but still obvious, this one being entirely covered over to look like a mound of earth shows that someone wanted to hide something.

We do not think that this is a one off occurence. We would advise that advice is sought from the Badger Trust if you think that something similar has occurred elsewhere. Currently being discussed on BBC Hereford and Worcestershire. The Badger Trust and West Mercia Police were both made aware at the time.

Worcester News covered this story a few days after the BBC spoke about it on the radio – check out their article here

30th November ’19 – Worcestershire Hunt

*** Worcestershire Hunt staff, hounds and terriermen found at artificial earth with badgers in residence in Hunt Master’s garden ***

We had a tip-off this morning (well, we had 6 but we had to choose one of them) about the Worcestershire Hunt meeting in Bradley Green. We’d been staking out some setts elsewhere (early morning sett-blocking patrol is getting a lot colder!) but headed over. Once in the area we heard a great raucous around a farm where we believe one of the hunt masters lives, huntsman encouraging hounds on and what we thought could be several hounds marking to ground. As a terrier quad headed inland in the hunts’ direction so did sabs…

… and we found a non-badger-proof artificial earth with hound paw prints around the entrances and, most importantly, evidence of badger occupation. [This is particularly interesting given the recent finding of a shot badger stuffed in a sett which was marked at and blocked by this hunt earlier this month.] At this point stalkers arrived and the hunt moved off.

It was quite a long day from there on with some landlocked areas, a few lies about locations of footpaths (and general confusion from stalkers who weren’t even provided with maps of the area…), much mud and several WhatsApp messages and phone calls between stalkers and hunt staff regarding the location of sabs. Hounds were in and out of cry all afternoon. As the daylight began to fade huntsman gathered his hounds for quite some time at Bradley Green before finally packing up with, we hope, the full pack.

The artificial earth was then well-documented (especially as it is an odd design) and we will be keeping an eye on it regularly in future – this time last season a holloa was heard in this area and a fox ran from nearby with quadbikes audible inland – now we know more about the location we can do more.

26th November ’19 – Cotswold Vale Farmers’ Hunt

* hunt hounds out of control on A38 *
* loose hounds left behind after hunt takes remainder of pack back inland *
* hounds riot on deer several times with hunt staff unable to call them back *
* hounds mark to ground in active badger sett (and artificial earth) in currently active badger cull zone *
* hunt packs up in the pitch dark without all of their hounds *

Well it has been rather a long day, so we’ll keep this as short as possible. We drove into town this morning to sort out phones and maps and stuff, sab stuff in the vehicle just in case of a tip-off… and we saw a horse box heading south down the A38 around 10.25am. Driving south to check known CVFH meets we found the hunt meeting at Norton Court Farm and got inland (as it’s a huge landlocked area with very little road access).

Hunt headed north from the meet at 11.30am and picked up on a scent a little while later… by 12.10 the pack were on and across the A38, vehicles crawling along and horns beeping. It took at least 20 minutes for the hunt to fully gather the hounds (or so they claimed) and bring them back inland on the side of the road they were supposed to be hunting on…

Hounds became interested in another scent not long after and half the pack ran in the direction of the A38 once again, whipper-in panicking and galloping back to the road… if the scent hadn’t been foiled at a pile of manure she wouldn’t have made it round in time to stop hounds if they had gone on to the road.

Meanwhile hunt supporters tried to claim to a sab that they were following a trail:

“Fox hunting is banned, we’re legally following a trail hunt”

“Across the A38?”



“Why were hounds all over the A38?”

“For the same reason that you’re trespassing on this private land”

“Emm… well I’m here because this hunt are illegally hunting foxes”

While on the phone to the police regarding the frankly dangerous behaviour of the hunt around the A-road one of these woman decided to ride her horse into the back of the sab, luckily from standing and not at speed. We are reviewing our footage.

Back on the A38 a sab found a loose hound on the opposite side of the road, hunt and remainder of pack several fields inland the other side. Huntsman Matthew told sabs that he was aware of this hound at 13.50, an hour and a half after hounds had been on the A38! The hound had not been collected, a sab was the only one on the road ensuring that Dumpling was not hit by any cars, police officers attempting to contact hunt staff and two residents of a nearby house spending a long time trying to catch and contain the hound!

Hounds picked up and chased a fox to ground in an active badger sett – upon checking on the sett we also found an artificial earth, hound prints all over the entrances of both where they had marked and signs of old dig-outs. Our presence prevented any foxes from being dug or flushed out.

And so ensued absolute chaos. Hounds rioted on deer at least 3 times with hunt staff just managing to call them off. Another fox was chased to ground. As sunset drew close, hounds headed south towards Down Hatherley at speed. Hunt staff gathered them soon after and went back to the meet… but hounds went into full cry and ran off. At this point huntsman remained stationary, blowing his horn to gather the pack… and failing. He and the whipper-in finally caught up with the pack and just about gathered them, at which time the hounds picked up again and hunt staff completely lost control.

One sab got to the vehicle and drove south to Down Hatherley where a hunt member on a quad was clearly panicking, driving up and down on to and from the A38. Huntsman was around 8 fields behind the pack and pointlessly blowing the horn. Whipper-in was only marginally closer to the pack because she was trotting instead of walking. Hunt staff were noticeably worried… when they were close enough to actually see in the failing light. Loose hounds were running around Barrow in the dark. Whether huntsman actually had the whole pack when he got back to the meet 50 minutes after sunset we didn’t know. At 6pm we received a message saying that someone with a hunting horn was trying to round up loose hounds near The Leigh.

… spot the huntsman and hounds

This hunt is dangerous. It is pure luck that no one had a serious car accident today and that no hounds were killed. A report has been sent to Gloucestershire Police this evening.

20th November ’19 – Worcestershire Hunt

*** hunt trespass on Worcs Wildlife Trust land ***

A long day out in the fields, finding more setts which may be targeted in the Worcestershire badger culling zone/s that we anticipate will begin in the next year or so, popping up on the hunt as they trespassed on Worcestershire Wildlife Trust land (they’re allowed to travel up / down the bridleway through Monkwood, but either the hounds were out of control or hunt staff were deliberately hunting, neither of which is a good option, as hounds were speaking and being difficult to gather up) and finding a sett which the hunt had marked to ground in near Hallow. We believe our presence in the area prevented them from digging out even though we weren’t able to locate the sett until later in the day due to being stalked.

We are reviewing our footage (after a bath and some food) of the hunt in Monkwood and the Wildlife Trust were contacted at the time… we will be passing on footage to them soon.

We are getting to know this hunt and their country more, but they’re still relatively new to us as we’ve only been to a few meets of theirs each season for a few years. If you have any information about them, known setts that they block or artificial earths that they use, any dodgy practices they have (we know of some…) or coverts they go to when in certain areas, give us a shout. All information is treated as confidential regardless of who calls us: 07891 639803

18th November ’19 – Ledbury Hunt

*** loose hounds mark to ground at active badger sett while remainder of pack were hunting elsewhere * terrierman Tom Stokes stands on badger sett and prevents fox going to ground during hunt ***

We headed out today as we’d been given a tip-off that the Ledbury Hunt would be meeting at Hunter’s Hall, Castlemorton Common. They went out the back of Hunter’s Hall and drew through a crop field, picking up and running on to the Common where they lost in some gorse when we believe fox ran through a herd of unimpressed cows. A representative from Fox hunt off Malvern Hills was out, as well as some of the wardens from Malvern Hills Trust and we kept an eye on the hunt while they returned inland and drew through the crops again.

Out the other side of the land and towards Castlemorton village, into an area where sabs had checked on badger setts earlier this morning and pre-sprayed the area. Huntsman Mark took hounds through a covert then on into the village and across the road, watched by sab driver… but sabs inland realised that a small group of hounds, now nowhere near any hunt staff, were marking to ground at an active badger sett (and had been whilst hunt staff had been in the area several minutes before – why did they leave them there?) We checked on the entrances and put up a camera to watch for activity, made sure hounds had moved on and then left the land, running into the hunt on the road.

We mentioned the loose hounds and the hunt moving off despite obviously not being ‘all on’ (having all of the hounds) and had smart-arse comments made back about “well they’re all here and safe now”… seconds later hunt master Louise Daly and one of the whippers-in went back into the village to pick up a loose hound (pictured). When a sab commented to Vicky (huntsman’s partner and groom) later that the whipper-in was a bit crap, she replied with “so are the sabs”. 1. That means that she agrees he’s a bit crap. 2. If the hunt aren’t chasing foxes then we don’t need to sab – we wouldn’t sab artificial trails, so is that you admitting to illegal hunting Vicky?

On inland again and to Hillend where sabs rated hounds off a fox and terrierman had finally switched to his quad (he had been driving a 4×4 around the Common as they do not allow terriermen or quads on there). Second-horsing occurred and Vicky did some silly swerving to attempt to stop sabs passing the hunt box. We caught up with the hunt again easily and kept an eye on them near the Welland Road where hunt supporters pointed out a fox excitedly and around Grove Farm and Keyses Farm. Once out of the area hounds picked up in another crop field, supporters again excitedly pointing out a fox… who was headed back into the crops and away from a badger sett that terriermen Tom Stokes was parked up on… hounds chased through the crops, over several fields and a road and inland the other side and back towards Hillend where we believe they lost the scent with a mix of sabbing, the terrain and exhaust fumes getting in the way.

Back to the Common at the end of the day and, in front of the wardens, they gathered the hounds neatly, crossed a road safely back into Hunter’s Hall and proved that they can keep the hounds in control when they want to (to pretend to the MHT that they’re polite and sensible and hunting within the law…).

They’re not blocking setts as much as they used to, but they are still stopping foxes from escaping into them where they can – but one terrierman can block a large number of setts overnight and in the early hours of a morning… he can only be on one badger sett at a time during a hunt. We are reviewing our footage of Stokes on the sett, Vicky’s driving without due care and attention and of the hounds marking to ground. In the meantime, give Fox Hunt off Malvern Hills a like and keep an eye on their page for their report of the day!