Wildlife Persecution

Three Counties Hunt Sabs have an article written about foxhunts and tampering with badger setts both in and outside of cull zones:   Hunts vs Badgers

They also have articles written on Terrierwork which includes info on ‘extracurricular’ activities of terriermen and hunts and on Cubhunting which can be useful as the recent culls have always coincided with the start of cubhunting in the area.

Other shooting activities and hunting with hounds:

The West Glos area is hunted by the following packs of hounds:

The Ross Harriers (hunt fox and hare, mounted) extending into the Herefordshire cull zone

The Cotswold Vale Farmers Hunt (hunt fox, mounted) extending into the North Cotswolds area

The Ledbury (hunt fox, mounted) extending into the Herefordshire cull zone

The Leadon Vale Bassets (hunt hares on foot)

Three Counties Mink Hounds (hunt mink on foot along riverbanks)

The North Cotswold area is hunted by the following mounted fox hound packs

North Cotswold Hunt to the north

The Cotswold to the south

The Heythrop to the east

The Cotswold Vale Farmers to the west

The Croome and West Warwickshire to the north west

The Dummer Beagles also hunt hares in the area

In south Gloucestershire the Cotswold hunt country extends, there are also the Beaufort, the Valley of the White Horse (VWH) and to the west, the Berkeley.

There is very little hunt activity in the Forest of Dean. There are the Woolaston Bassets who hunt rabbit (legal) and hare (not legal) but that is it for organised hunting – plenty of poaching though and the boar cull.

The cub hunting season begins late August / early September – those who wish to go sabbing should contact “Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs” or other groups in the zone. Around Stroud and Cirencester and into the North Cotswolds area “Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch” also operate. You may see one of these hunts out and about. Do film any hunting and please let us know because we can get out and sab’ them.

The following hunts have been actively blocking badger setts in recent years: the Ledbury, the Heythrop, the Cotswold, the North Cotswold, the VWH, the Beaufort. The last time we know of that the CVFH blocked a sett was during the 2009 – 2010 season. None of these hunts are adverse to digging out a badger sett if a fox escapes down one. None of this stops just because there is a badger cull in the area. Please make sure that all setts are checked where any hunt has been – we will let those working in area know of any hunt meets we are aware of or have been tipped off about – please also let us know if you see hunting activity as soon as possible. We have seen hunts go through areas where there may be badgers in traps such as maize fields on pro-cull land. Also check for the smell of diesel down setts and take soil samples if possible.

Many lampers and poachers were caught over the years by those on the ground. Be careful and mindful of your safety around these characters. Members and officials of all mounted packs have been encountered in the zones helping shooters and harassing sabs, which included one of the Masters of the Ledbury being part of a group who attacked sabs on a footpath, leading to the arrest of his friend, in 2013.

Over the last 4 culls in this area sabs have also been out sabbing cub hunts on a regular basis and will continue to do so in all zones. We will try and attend any hunt but this might not always be possible. Some basic advice for those who have not sabbed before is as follows:

– Do not ‘head’ the hunted animal i.e. keep quiet, stand still and let fox or hare pass you. If you frighten them back into the pack they could be killed

– Do not stand by a sett as it may be an escape route for the hunted fox. Foxes are likely to also use hedge lines to try and run along without being seen so be careful. Don’t shout at the hunters or supporters, however angry you might be at their activities, as you could end up being the reason a fox or hare is killed if you scare them back into the hounds

– Hares live in ‘forms’ in fields so you may see hounds going back and forth across a field. Hares run in large circles when chased, the circles getting smaller as they become more tired

– Filming may deter the hunt from hunting illegally – they have been known to abandon certain areas when cameras are about. You may save a life just by doing that. Pretend to film even if you don’t have a camera

– Call the office number – it is possible that sabs may be able to deal with them or are already in the area and we can give advice

Recreational shooting will happen on many days within the zone as will rough shooting, to kill ‘pests’, syndicate driven shooting and lamping at night. It is legal to walk on the footpaths regardless of the shooters.

Traps, both lawful and unlawful, are also commonplace. Fenn traps, larsen traps (for corvids) and non-locking snares are legal (though not in every case). Raptor traps, gin traps, etc. are unlawful to use. The RSPB and police should be contacted regarding any traps set for birds of prey.

Poaching happens a lot, both lamping and coursing. The cull zone with police, sabs, patrollers and landowners all being a much increased presence has meant that poachers tend to quickly moved on. They are not nice people in general, so call the office and the police if you suspect poachers and make sure that you get any car reg numbers.

Badger diggers are also around. Some were disturbed in the Gloucestershire zone just before the cull started in 2016 at a sett that was also targeted by the cull.

The following links may be of interest:

Hunts vs Badgers‘ (an article by Three Counties Hunt Sabs)

Terrierwork: Past and Present‘ (an article by Three Counties Hunt Sabs)

Blocked badger setts and wildlife crime guidelines:

Please record the following:

  • Date/time
  • Video footage and stills
  • Grid ref, preferably filmed
  • Any records / photos of the sett pre-interference to show badger activity
  • Get an incident number from the police. Explain that it is an offence under the 1992 Badger Act to interfere with a sett if you encounter any problems
  • Inform us at the office and Outpaced

Report to The Badger Trust – this is in order to show the extent of badger persecution and to flag up how serious this is to policy makers. Please also send into Gloucestershire Badger Group

If it is a sett that seems to have been blocked by a hunt unblock it so that badgers can get out and foxes can get in – if there is any suspicion that a sett has been blocked in order to gas the badgers DO NOT unblock, but DO get help. Unblocking a gassed sett could be fatal to the human concerned.

You may also find traps for birds of prey which are unlawful and it is criminal offence. Please call the police and RSPB.

We are happy to report on behalf of activists who wish to remain anonymous.