Still from bodycam footage showing a sab's legs up in the air with two other sabs in the background.

Bodycam video shows the moment a quad bike hits a hunt saboteur on Boxing Day

Hunt saboteurs say one of their members was hit by a quad bike on Boxing Day. It happened during a meet of the Eggesford Hunt. And the incident left him needing x-rays.

Devon County Hunt Saboteurs (DCHS) said on 26 December that “tempers began to flare” during the Eggesford Hunt’s Boxing Day meet. This annual meet is the biggest day in hunting’s calender, and often draws far bigger crowds for the hunt than any other meet. As a result, it has in the past led to heightened passions and violence. And this year, a sab with DCHS was at the rough end of that stick.

A 34-second video published by the sab group taken from a body cam shows the wearer tumbling as a quad bike speeds by. A thud can be heard on the audio track as the vehicle hits the sab. The quad then speeds off into the distance.

Bodycam footage from a sab laying on the ground. A quad bike's wheel is seen on the edge of the frame.
The moment after the quad bike strikes, via Devon County Hunt Saboteurs.

Following the quad bike strike, the sab was taken to hospital for an injured leg. Protect the Wild understands that the sab in question suffered soft tissue damage and nothing more serious. He also said the incident was the result of a typically rowdy hunt supporter “getting his kicks”, something that DCHS see regularly. Nonetheless, he is undeterred and “planning to be out” again very soon.

According to ITV News reporter Rupert Evelyn, the British Hound Sports Association appeared to bizarrely suggest the attack was faked. The association said that it was “unaware of any incident which is claimed to have taken place on Boxing Day” and that “investigations are now underway”. It then claimed that “false allegations have been made in the past in an attempt to slur the reputation of the hunt and hunting”. How this applies to DCHS’s video of a quad hitting a sab is unclear.

Violent reaction

DCHS said the attack came after huntsman Jason Marles had already “hit another sab over the head” with a riding crop. And it claimed both incidents were the result of DCHS making it impossible for the Eggesford Hunt to pursue foxes.

Unfortunately, although foxes were safe for the day, hounds may not have been. The Hunt Saboteurs Association’s chair said the organisation had received a report of a car hitting and killing five hounds.

However, the chair said no further reports of the incident had appeared. DCHS also didn’t mention the incident in its report of the day.

Lawless county

DCHS told Protect the Wild that Devon is “basically lawless” when it comes to hunting:

there are 18 foxhunts going out and illegally killing foxes every week and police don’t do anything about it.

The new National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead on fox hunting is Matt Longman, of Plymouth Police. DCHS said that Longman “needs to start with his own patch” when it comes to ‘cleaning up’ the hunting industry. And it went on to say that officers:

need to show up genuinely unannounced to monitor hunts undercover with trained officers, not pretend that a high visibility patrol pre arranged with the hunt where officers never once leave their vehicles is useful on any level

Longman himself said on Twitter that, when it comes to hunting, police “must do more to investigate instances of criminality”.

And when asked to clarify what this meant, Longman said that plans are already underway to better equip officers “with knowledge, skills and equipment to gather evidence”. He believes this will “minimise trial collapse”.

Longman doesn’t mention his own county specifically. However, Devon is one of the most notorious areas for hunting in the UK. Not only are 18 fox hunts out multiple times a week throughout the season, it’s also home to controversial stag hunts.

Moreover, these hunts have repeatedly proved themselves reckless in behaviour and violent in attitude. DCHS said:

Sabs save lives. Unfortunately this puts us in the firing line when people who get their kicks out of animal cruelty have their ‘fun’ disrupted.

Any serious policing response therefore needs to see hunts not only as wildlife crime gangs, but as hubs of antisocial violence.

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Featured image via Devon County Hunt Saboteurs.