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CAUGHT ON FILM: One man’s words show the criminality of hunts

On 7 December, Hull Wildlife Protectors (HWP) posted a video on Instagram. And in just a few words, one man showed just how criminal fox hunters really are.

The footage was taken on 21 November. HWP had been monitoring East Yorkshire’s Holderness Hunt when they filmed some of the hunt in conversation on camera.

One man, a hunt supporter named Jim Thompson, asked another man named Marcus Richmond:

“How’s Robert getting on at Cheshire? Are they hunting foxes or are they laying trails?”

He is referring to Robert Truscott, the Cheshire Foxhounds’ new huntsman.

Hunts across the country insist that they are hunting within the law, that they are trail hunting and not chasing animals.

But if hounds are really following artificially-laid trails, why would Thompson ask this question in the first place?

HWP said:

“Questions like the one Jim asks Marcus once again infers trail hunts are part of a cover up. A smokescreen – in which foxes are still being hunted under the guise of trail laying.”

Blatantly hunting foxes

That same day, Thompson had tried to stop the monitors from following the hunt. The group saw many foxes fleeing a covert, and when challenged, huntsman Tom Wright repeatedly said that the hounds were hunting rabbits (which is, conveniently for Wright, legal under the Hunting Act).

A member of Hull Wildlife Protectors runs to save a fox from Holderness Hunt hounds (March 2023)

 

This, of course, isn’t a one-off incident for the Holderness Hunt. Back in March 2023 HWP photographed hounds tearing apart a fox while hunt staff looked on and did nothing to intervene. The police issued the hunt with a dispersal order – excluding the riders from the area for a period of up to 48 hours –  but this was the only action the police were prepared to take. Despite all the evidence of gruesome photos of the mauled fox, as well as eyewitness accounts of what happened, the police decided to take no further action.

 

What will it take?

This footage is the latest in which hunters have been caught on camera, having conversations that expose the smokescreen that is trail hunting. Protect the Wild supporters will likely remember when Zoom footage of hunting official Mark Hankinson was leaked back in November 2020. Along with other senior hunters, he was caught talking about trail hunting as a ‘smokescreen’ for hunts to continue killing foxes. He said:

“it’s a lot easier to create a smokescreen if you’ve got more than one trail layer operating and that is what it is all about, trying to portray to the people watching that you’re going about your legitimate business.”

A year later, Hankinson was found guilty of encouraging illegal fox hunting. But in July 2022 he won his appeal against the conviction. Despite this, the Zoom footage was damning enough that major landowners, such as the National Trust, banned trail hunting from their land.

And now we have another hunter on film, whose words once more prove that trail hunting is a smokescreen. So what will it take for the criminal justice system to actually enforce a ban? How much more incriminating footage of corrupt hunters and murdered foxes will it take before the government admits that the Hunting Act is flawed?

We need a change of law

Of course, most of us know the reason why hunters can get caught on film saying such things, yet nothing changes. It is because Hunting Act legislation is purposefully flawed. Loopholes were deliberately added by pro-hunting Tories, meaning that packs can still tear apart foxes with impunity.

This is why Protect the Wild is campaigning for a complete change of law. The government needs to scrap the Hunting Act and replace it with robust, black-and-white legislation that can’t be argued about in court. The Hunting of Mammals Bill, put together by lawyers at Advocates for Animals, would ensure that hunts are shut down forever.

Until this happens, we are reliant on the hard work of hunt saboteurs and monitors on the ground to save our foxes and other wildlife.

HWP said:

“We know the Holderness Hunt intend to hunt foxes. They know they want to hunt foxes, so we will not rest until they are stopped.”

 

You can support Hull Wildlife Protectors by donating to the group here.

Read our article “This is the solution to end fox hunting for good” here.

 

To read the proposed Hunting of Mammals Bill, click here.

To sign our petition calling for a proper hunting ban through the implementation of the Hunting of Mammals Bill, click here.