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Great news. Pendle Forest and Craven Harriers Hunt is folding

GREAT NEWS! Yet another hunt is going…

The Pendle Forest and Craven Harriers, a hare hunt covering Lancashire and North Yorkshire and based at kennels at Coniston Hall near Skipton, are disbanding. They join a long list of hunts folding as landowners and the public turn more and more against them.

The Hunt made the announcement on 12 March, saying that the hunt committee had taken the ‘sad decision‘ because ‘of the difficulty…in seeing a sustainable, viable, and tenable future‘ for the pack and that therefore ‘the 2024/25 season will be the last‘ after 255 years of chasing and killing hares.

Obviously the region’s hares won’t be joining in the commiserations…

The Hunt’s Facebook page is private so anyone wanting more information would have to sign up and navigate the possibly photoshopped large gentleman in a red coat gurning on the back of a horse – which we’re not prepared to do. However, we earnestly hope the hunt will rehome the hounds they talk poetically of ‘cross[ing] the beautiful Pendle Forest and Craven County’ rather than shooting them as hunts continually threaten if ‘antis’ close them down.

Talking of  closing them down, the more forthcoming Manchester Hunt Sabs, while promising to pay the Pendle a goodbye visit next season on their Facebook page, also gave a very brief but interesting analysis of the current state of hunting:

We can’t take any credit for this, rather it is indicative of the wider trend of hunting’s long-awaited demise.”

 

Hunting is wildlife crime

There certainly does seem to be a rather large corner being turned at the moment. Relentless monitoring and sabbing has put pressure on hunts like never before and caused the likes of Channel 4 to join in the condemnation. Just last week Chris Packham joined sabs at a meet of the notorious Mendip Hunt leading him to conclude in a tweet seen by more than 157k people that “This isn’t trail hunting, it’s wildlife crime”.

 

Chris Packham joins sabs at a meet of the Mendip Hunt

Of course it’s a wildlife crime. Hunting animals with dogs was banned twenty years ago.

Hare hunting itself is a particularly nasty and stupid form of hunting. Populations of the Brown Hare are in decline right across England and Wales – perhaps by more than 80% during the past 100 years – and while small sections of the public might not wholeheartedly support foxes, no one but a few farmers want to allow hares to be torn up by hounds while a hunt and its support cheer them on. The Pendle Forest and Craven might insist that they follow scent trails laid in advance of the hunt, but fewer and fewer people actually believe them. Landowners in particular either don’t want to be associated with this anachronistic and pointless form of ‘sport’, or even if they do they are becoming more media shy and reluctant to be outed.

 

On the way out – finally!

As we have previously reported there has been a number of hunts collapsing or merging over the last fourteen months.

  • In January 2023, the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) shared news that the Airedale Beagles were disbanding.
  • In February, the British Hound Sports Association permanently expelled the notoriously violent Avon Vale Hunt after video of them digging out a fox was leaked online.
  • In March, the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt folded.
  • In April the HSA said that the Ilminster Beagles and West Somerset Beagles would merge for the coming season. The new pack was to take the name Ilminster & West Somerset Beagles.
  • In July, hunt saboteurs in Kent celebrated the news that there would only be one hunt left in the county – the newly named Kent Foxhounds.
  • In August, North London Hunt Saboteurs said it had visited the kennels of the East Essex Hunt and found the property abandoned.
  • The Puckeridge Hunt also merged with the Essex with Farmers and Union for the 2023/2024 season, becoming the new Puckeridge and Essex Union Hunt.
  • In January 2024 it was confirmed that the Southdown and Eridge Hunt was merging with the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt.
  • And in February, Beds and Bucks Hunt Sabs confirmed that the notoriously violent Oakley Hunt would be folding at the end of this hunting season.

 

There are of course hunts left (our own ‘Hunting: A Case for Change’ Report estimated 70 hare packs alone were active in the 2022/23 season), but their support is disappearing, subscriptions are falling, turnout at meets is dwindling, and many are facing the same ‘sustainability’ problems that have sunk the Pendle Forest and Craven Harriers.

Writing about the Oakley Hunt last month, Beds and Bucks Sabs said that “local land owners no longer want [the Oakley] riding all over the place and the hounds going where they shouldn’t.” It is becoming more and more clear across the country that this is a view shared by an increasing number of people.

We can only imagine what the impact would be if local police forces finally stopped turning a blind eye to the numerous offences these Organised Crime Gangs commit every time they go out as well…

 

Let’s shut down hunting for good

Hunts are abusing the law, and it’s clear that we need strong legislation that really protects wildlife. The current Hunting Act, with all its loopholes, has allowed hunts to continue business as usual since it was implemented in 2005. Until it is scrapped and replaced with watertight legislation, hares will continue to be mauled by hounds, and hounds will continue to be shot by hunting staff.

Protect the Wild is campaigning for the Hunting of Mammals Bill to replace the Hunting Act. This legislation, commissioned by us and drafted by lawyers at Advocates for Animals, gets rid of all of the loopholes and exemptions that were inserted into the current Act. If it were passed, the Hunting of Mammals Bill would ensure that hunting with dogs would be banned forever.

The Hunting of Mammals Bill will stop hunting in its tracks, and finally give wildlife and hounds much-needed protection from illegal hunting. Please support it and help us make it law.

  • Sign our petition calling for a proper ban on hunting here.
  • You can read the Bill in its entirety by downloading a pdf version here.