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Stop the Mendip Farmers Hunt from parading this Boxing Day

Murdering foxes. Killing its own hounds. Blocking badger setts. Brutal attacks on hunt saboteurs. Traumatising domestic animals. Stealing monitors’ equipment. This is the criminal Mendip Farmers Hunt (MFH).

Protect the Wild and Action Against Foxhunting are contacting councils in England and Wales to ask them to ban hunts from parading on their land on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. As part of that campaign we have written to Priddy Parish Council and Somerset Council, explaining why they should prevent the Mendip Farmers Hunt (MFH) from parading on council land this Boxing Day. So far, Priddy Council has washed its hands of any duty it has, and has referred us to Somerset Council.

We have reminded both councils of the legal obligations they have, as well as the legal risks they take in allowing the hunt to meet (see here). Protect the Wild has made the councillors aware that there’s plenty of evidence to show that the MFH illegally hunts foxes, and causes havoc to the public and domestic animals.

We have also made the councils aware that a number of land owners, such as the National Trust, have banned hunts from trail hunting on their land. This is because they have recognised that hunts use the excuse of trail hunting (that is, saying that they are laying an artificial trail) as an excuse to illegally hunt real foxes. Councils can do the same – if they have the inclination.

Like many hunts across the country, there is plenty of evidence to show that the MFH couldn’t care less about the hunting ban, and continues to break the law.

Here’s just a few examples of how the MFH is a criminal gang:

Murdering foxes

The hunt is regularly caught chasing and/or killing foxes. Hunt saboteurs even filmed the hunt chasing two foxes at its Priddy Green Boxing Day meet in 2022. The sabs uploaded the footage to Facebook, and reported on the second fox chase:

“After the hounds had been in the scrub for about 20 minutes, a fox broke covert from the scrub and ran the full length of the field boundary along the hedge line. This was in full view of hunt staff and riders on the ridge, and support on the road. Master George started walking his horse towards the fox as they emerged from the covert and shortly after, hounds went into cry – indicating they had found a scent.
Hounds came out from the covert in cry and the full pack followed the exact line the fox had taken along the field boundary. None of the hunt staff attempted to stop the hounds or call them back at any point, and the huntsman is seen shortly after, following the path of the hounds and fox. Quads, riders, and vehicle support all raced off down the road in the direction the fox ran to follow the chase. Sabs shouted to the hunt that they had the fox on film, but they still did not call the hounds off.”

Trespassing

In January 2023, we reported on how MFH hounds tore through Chew Valley Animal Park, trespassing on the land and traumatising other animals.

Mendip Hunt Sabs told Protect the Wild at the time:

“Hounds from the Mendip Farmers Hunt picked up on a scent in fields to the north of Chew Magna, went into cry, and followed the line they were hunting into Chew Valley Animal Park. This local attraction is a licensed zoo and home to a diverse range of animals. The park owner described to us how the hounds were jumping into animal pens with goats and camels, traumatising them and other resident animals. Some of the affected goats are pregnant, causing immense concern for their welfare following the incident. All affected animals are being checked over by the park’s vet and they intend to send the vet bills to the hunt.”

The sabs continued:

“Obviously, if the hunt were following pre-laid trails through land they were entitled to be on, trespasses such as these simply would not happen. Instead, they insist on illegally hunting foxes, and as a result traumatise not only their quarry, but the local residents and landowners they encroach on as well.”

The sabs listed to us a number of other incidents where the MFH had trespassed on private land.

Blocking a badger sett

The Independent reported in 2019 that the hunt blocked a badger sett in order to trap a fox, illegal under the Protection of Badgers Act. The meet was hosted on MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s land.

Extreme violence

Mendip Hunt Sabs previously told Protect the Wild:

“The Mendip Farmers Hunt are a gang of criminal thugs who frequently resort to violence in an attempt to deter sabs from documenting or preventing their persistent illegal fox hunting. In the past two years, we have secured seven convictions against them for violent crimes and have a number of cases still ongoing.”

These convictions include MFH supporter Christopher Hurden, who pleaded guilty to assault and criminal damage in 2021; hunt thug Ashley Louth, who was also found guilty of criminal damage in 2021 after slashing sabs’ tyres; and MFH’s former whipper-in, Tim Ingram, who was found guilty of criminal damage in late 2022 after he damaged a sab’s vehicle while illegally driving on the back of a terrierboy’s quad bike.

In 2021, sabs were victims of a brutal attack. They reported on Facebook:

“[Huntsman] Hickmott swept the horse’s head to impact and off balance one of our sabs and then cowardly Stevens stepped in and pushed them to the ground cracking their head on a slab on the ground and knocking them unconscious.
Huntsman, Mathew Hickmott shouted “GET THE CAMERAS”! Then all hell broke loose. The full force of the assembling gang of emboldened terriermen/thugs threw our other sab to the ground. The other, regaining consciousness, was treated just the same, the two were dragged around by their hair, their hood, repeatedly knocked to the ground, kicked and kicked when down, shouted to “GET OUT” and then pushed and knocked to the ground again when further blows reigned down. A brutal, cowardly attack. 8-10 thugs on two women. No notice was taken of them saying they were leaving. All cameras with the footage of the illegal hunt and kill followed by assault were ripped away from us despite heroic attempts to curl up and protect the precious footage.”

Hardly the kind of people you want parading down the street on Boxing Day.

Murdering hounds
Protect the Wild has previously reported that the MFH killed 13 hounds between April and June 2020. And according to Hunting Leaks:

“This is a hunt which have opted to put down significant numbers of hounds for “business reasons”, and aim to reduce kennel expenditure as much as possible for the poor souls remaining living there.”

Ignoring the evidence

Priddy Parish Council has completely ignored these essential points:

  • That the MFH commits criminal acts
  • That major land owners have taken action and banned hunts from meeting on their land.

Instead, the council replied on the practical legalities of allowing the hunt to march, but washed its hands of any responsibility. It said:

“Regarding your specific legislative concerns, Priddy Parish Council has no authority in these areas:
· For Road Closures please refer to Somerset Council;
· For Health and Safety please refer to the Health and Safety Authority;
· For loose hounds please refer to Avon and Somerset Police;
· For sale of alcohol please refer to Somerset Council.”
The council continued:
“All users arranging events on Priddy Village green are required to comply with legislation similar to and including that referred to in your letter and, if required, would need to communicate with the above authorities. Your example states a case with a District Council – the comparative council in Somerset is Somerset Council, not the Parish Council.”

We made Somerset Council aware of all the incidents outlined in this article a week ago, but it still has not replied to us.

 

  • Sign the petition to demand the Mendip Farmers Hunt is banned from parading on Boxing Day here