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Hunts need to be held accountable as a hound is killed by a car

When it comes to hunting, it isn’t just foxes who are victims of this brutal bloodsport. On 29 November a Grove and Rufford Hunt (GRH) hound was hit and killed by a car on the A614. The pack was out of control, forcing cars and lorries to come to a standstill.

Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs and Calder Valley Hunt Saboteurs were on the ground that day, trying to prevent the hunt from making a kill. Sheffield Sabs stated that within ten minutes of leaving the GRH meeting point, huntsman Ben Higgins was encouraging the hounds to chase a fox. One horse got stuck in a ditch, while hounds “rioted out of control”. The sabs said:

“After the hunt had regained control, hounds were taken to Elkesley Wood. Again, Higgins lost control of the hounds in the large woods, causing some hounds to stray onto the A614. Sadly one hound was killed on the road. A lorry had to swerve to miss the first hound, almost causing a crash before another unsuspecting member of public hit him. With no hunt staff around, members of Calder Valley Hunt Saboteurs stopped traffic on the busy road, and kept other hounds from being hit as more ran on to the road out of control…”

Meanwhile, Calder Valley sabs stated that:

“Higgins’ hound control was awful, as the pack was split for most of the day but that didn’t stop him attempting to rip apart foxes.”

Incidents like this are common

Sadly, this incident isn’t a one-off. Hunts, who still insist that they are following an artificial trail, have had numerous accidents on roads and train lines.

In early 2020, Network Rail recorded five incidents in just one month of dogs on tracks. And in December 2021, a specialist crash investigator documented 200 “near misses” and other dangers caused by hunts. The investigator collected numerous evidence over three years, and said that hunts put public safety at risk.

The Independent reported:

“Seventeen cases involved road traffic collisions, nine involved railways, and one meant an airfield had to shut, diverting planes.”

The incidents continued into 2022. On 1 January 2022, four Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt hounds were killed when they were run down by a train in Somerset. It was the second time in the space of two weeks that the hunt’s hounds were seen on the tracks.

And on 31 October 2022, at least four Dunston Harriers hounds died after the pack ran onto a railway line in Norfolk. The dogs, which are used to chase hares, were struck by a high-speed Greater Anglia train on its way from Norwich to London. They were being exercised at the time.

Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs said:

“We believe the Dunston Harriers may have had their full pack of approximately 60 hounds out and that all of them may have been trespassing on the line when the train struck.”

Just one day after that, the sabs reported that one hound was still running loose on the A410.

Trail hunting scam

Of course, incidents like that of the GRH, or of the Dunston Harriers, remind us all of what we already know: that trail hunting is a just smokescreen: an excuse for them to continue hunting real animals. The hunts are not laying artificial scents for hounds to follow, or we wouldn’t repeatedly see packs on roads, railways, airstrips, on farms and in people’s gardens.

Commenting on the Dunston Harriers hounds’ deaths, Norfolk/Suffolk Sabs said:

“Trail hunt lies don’t wash. This incident proves that hounds do not follow trails. If the hunt laid a trail, then the hounds were completely out of control as no trail would be laid on a high speed inter-city train line.”

Reckless clause

As hunts continue to get away with putting people’s lives at risk, Protect The Wild is calling for a ‘reckless clause’ to be added to the Hunting Act. The clause would, at least in theory, mean that hunts could be more easily prosecuted for incidents like those mentioned in this article.

Whether it be trespassing on railway lines, causing crashes on roads, or the death of family pets as the hounds run into people’s gardens, hunts need to be held to account far more effectively.

Until we see serious consequences for hunt staff, we are going to continue to witness yet more hounds being killed on our roads and railways, more pets being killed by hounds, and possibly even people being killed in road accidents as packs run out-of-control.

You can donate to Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs here, and to Calder Valley Hunt Saboteurs here.

Featured image via Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs