Mendip Farmers Hunt trespasses into zoo

Hunting hounds rampage through animal park

On Saturday 14 January, hounds from the Mendip Farmers Hunt (MFH) caused havoc as they tore through Chew Valley Animal Park. And yet the MFH continues to insist that it hunts legally.

Protect the Wild spoke to Mendip Hunt Sabs, who were on the ground that day. The sabs said:

“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.”


Mendip Farmers Hunt


The sabs continued:

“Chew Valley Animal Park confirmed that no trail had been laid through their property and no hunt staff, horses, or hounds had permission to be there.

This shocking case of hunt trespass is just one of many incidents of trespass by the MFH in recent weeks and one of several cases of trespass on that day. The sheer arrogance and self-entitlement of this hunt is almost beyond belief. As fewer and fewer people permit this vile bunch of wildlife criminals to use their land for their disgraceful illegal activities, the MFH are more frequently resorting to trespass when their hounds pursue fleeing foxes through land they should not cross.”

Indeed, more and more hunts are losing permission to cross private land. Many landowners withdrew their permission after leaked webinars showed senior hunting officials admitting to using trail hunting – following an artificial scent rather than hunting real animals – as a smokescreen to murder foxes. On top of this, landowners are becoming aware that they, too, could be prosecuted under section 3 of the Hunting Act for giving permission for illegal hunting to take place on their land.

Mendip Hunt Sabs continued:

“In recent weeks we have witnessed the MFH trespass on land owned by:

    • Bristol Water – Litton, 24.12.22
    • Somerset Wildlife Trust – Ubley Warren Nature Reserve, 07.01.23
    • Black Down / Beacon Batch, 07.01.23
    • Holy Trinity Church Binegar, meeting in their car park against requests of the vicar, 11.01.23
    • A dog grooming business with exercise yard/paddock, 14.01.23

The sabs said that the list was not exclusive, and that the MFH has trespassed on countless other farms and small land holders. They 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.”


Mendip Farmers Hunt

Reckless clause

Loopholes in the Hunting Act ensure that the MFH can mostly get away with hunting foxes week in, week out, with very few consequences for its staff. The loopholes also enable it to trespass with impunity, terrifying any beings that get in its way. Protect the Wild is among a number of campaigners calling for a reckless clause to be added to the Hunting Act. The addition of a recklessness provision would mean that a person could be convicted not only if they intended to hunt a wild mammal, but for all the carnage they cause, whether intended or not. It would mean that they could be prosecuted for incidents such as trespassing on railway lines, causing crashes on roads, or the death of family pets as the hounds run into people’s gardens. If a reckless clause had been in place last Saturday, it would have ensured, at least in theory, that the MFH would have been prosecuted for rampaging through Chew Valley Animal Park.

Until the Hunting Act is strengthened, we will no doubt see many more domestic animals traumatised by the hunting industry.