Two members of Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch hold up a fox who'd been found in a bag inside an artificial earth during a meet of the Cotswold Hunt

Cotswold Hunt suspended after fox is buried alive in a sack

The British Hound Sports Association has suspended the Cotswold Hunt after a fox was bundled into a bag and buried alive.

Harrowing footage, captured by Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch on Saturday 18 March, was shown on Channel 4 News. A hunt saboteur, known as Magpie, told the news channel:

“As I got down to about this area, hounds were swarming. So it smelled very strongly of fox, but also of blood, and I noticed that quite a few of the hounds had blood down the sides of their bodies and on their backs. What I found was really disturbing. Clearly premeditated animal cruelty.”

The footage shows the vixen being rescued. She had been trapped inside a sack, which had been tied up tightly. She had then been buried alive inside an artificial earth. Artificial earths are built and maintained by hunts, and are usually used to encourage foxes to make their homes and breed in a hunting area, or to trap foxes in order to flush them out.

Magpie told Channel 4 News:

“For her to just be literally buried alive, inside of a sack, she must have just been absolutely terrified. The sack was actually sodden with urine from stress, or maybe from her being in there for multiple hours or even days.”

The fox was lactating, meaning it is likely she had been cruelly taken away from her young cubs.

The saboteurs’ footage then shows Cotswold Hunt terriermen, next to their quad bikes. One of the men says:

“Get the sack, it will have evidence on it, that fox came from your place.”

Bagging the fox

There’s speculation that hunt members had hidden the bagged fox inside the artificial earth because they were fearful of being caught with the vixen by hunt saboteurs. Protect The Wild has previously explained what exactly a bagged fox is:

“A bagged fox is a fox that is kept in a bag for ‘turning out’, or releasing, during a hunt meet…[and] someone will let the fox go just ahead of the hounds. The fox will then have some opportunity to run away but, more likely than not, the hounds will successfully kill the creature because of their unfamiliarity with the area…

The likelihood of hounds killing a bagged fox is exacerbated by the creature’s lack of familiarity with the area the hunt has released them into.”

The practice, although very illegal, is sadly common in the fox hunting industry.

Yet another disaster for the BHSA

Hunt’s governing body, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), has had little choice but to suspend the Cotswold. It told Channel 4 News:

“The seriousness of these allegations has resulted in the Cotswold Hunt being suspended from the BHSA whilst an investigation is conducted… In the meantime, should there be any police investigation into these allegations, the Cotswold Hunt will fully assist…”

Gloucestershire Police has confirmed that it will, indeed, be investigating the hunt.

This latest footage is yet another major blow for the hunting industry. The BHSA has tried its best to change the public’s negative perception of hunting, and to attempt to rebuild land owners’ trust in the bloodsport. It has even rebranded itself, changing its name from The Hunting Office in June 2022. The rebrand came after two years of PR disasters for both the Hunting Office and the Masters of Fox Hounds Association.

Just months after it renamed itself, the BHSA was forced to permanently expel the Avon Vale Hunt after its members were filmed digging out two foxes. And as this latest footage of horrendous cruelty by the Cotswold Hunt makes nationwide news, the BHSA knows that all eyes are on it to punish yet another longstanding member.

Take action

This latest incident of abhorrent cruelty took place on the land of the Miserden Estate, which had given the hunt permission to use its grounds. Miserden has now stated that the Cotswold is no longer permitted to hunt on its land.

But more needs to be done to ensure that the hunt is held accountable for its criminal activities. Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch and Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs are asking for the public to step up and force the police and landowners to take action against the Cotswold.

You can help by:

  • Contacting the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, Chris Nelson, here. Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch said on Facebook:

“contact Chris Nelson…to express your concerns and disgust at what we found. We would expect him to ensure that this being investigated thoroughly by Glos Police.”

  • Urge businesses and landowners that sponsor the Cotswold Hunt to cut ties with the hunt. Three Counties Sabs has made a list of those associated here. The sabs said:

We wonder what these businesses will make of the recent activities of the Cotswold Hunt. If you plan to ask them, please do so politely!

  • Join the protest: Three Counties Sabs urges everyone to join a demonstration on Sunday 2 April. The group will add more details about the protest on its Facebook page soon. It said:
“Hunt Saboteurs are planning to hold a demonstration at the Cotswold Hunt Point-to-Point on Sunday 2nd April, if they intend to go ahead with the races, following the just-released media report on Channel 4 of the bagged fox found at one of their hunt meets. Point-to-Point events are huge fundraisers for hunts and are inextricably linked with hunts. Hunting is intrinsically intertwined with the horse racing industry. In fact, the Countryside Alliance recently put up a post from Cheltenham Racecourse where a horse was being led into the winner’s enclosure by hunt staff from the Cotswold Hunt.”
You can donate to Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch by PayPal here, or by Ko-fi here.


Featured image via Channel 4 News/screenshot