Chris Woodward Wynnstay Hunt

Mounted huntsman charges at monitor and threatens to kill him

On Saturday 7 January, the Wynnstay Hunt stooped to a new low when its huntsman threatened a Cheshire Monitors volunteer. The monitors were on the ground, preventing illegal hunting from taking place, when huntsman Chris Woodward charged his horse at one of them.

The monitor was shouting the command “leave it” to the hounds to stop them from chasing a fox, when Woodward galloped towards him on his horse, almost knocking the man to the ground. At the same time he screamed:

“Fuck off now! That’s my fucking job. If you do that again I’ll fucking kill you! Do you hear? You leave them alone; that’s my responsibility!”

The incident was caught on video and made public by Cheshire Monitors.

Protect the Wild spoke to the monitors, who told us:

“Chris Woodward went insane and rode at our runner, screaming at him that if he didn’t stop commanding the hounds to stop chasing foxes he would kill him! Earlier in the day the hounds had chased a fox into a partially blocked badger sett – one of several found that day – and tried to dig the fox out, but were stopped by some sabs that were out with us that day. Multiple foxes were seen to safety before this incident, and Woodward clearly couldn’t cope with the pressure.”

A riled up huntsman

Woodward is clearly struggling in his role, as monitors and hunt saboteurs continue to prevent him from killing foxes. He must especially be feeling the pressure after appearing in court in early December 2022. Video footage, which was captured by an independent monitor and was due to be played to the court, showed him riding behind a pack of hounds as they chased a fox, and taking no action to stop them. Woodward was found not guilty of illegal hunting, but only after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the monitor’s video from the evidence bundle at the last minute. At the same time, Woodward was on trial for another incident of illegal hunting after North Wales Police officers also witnessed Woodward chasing a fox on a different date. But he was found not guilty of this charge, too.

Woodward’s recent close shaves with the law have obviously got him riled up. He knows that as long as there are monitors and sabs on the ground, he could face prosecution once again if he is seen hunting foxes. Protect the Wild has previously written about how the Wynnstay hounds are constantly caught by hunt monitors chasing foxes.

Chris Woodward Wynnstay Hunt

Hunt violence

Protect the Wild asked Cheshire Monitors whether the group had experienced much violence against them when out on the ground monitoring the Wynnstay Hunt. The group replied that they had, but that the violence was “intermittent”.  They told us:

“We’ve had slashed tyres a fair few times, and property has been damaged or stolen. A drone was stolen from one of the groups which was out a couple of weeks ago.”

A struggling hunt

A number of hunts have closed down or have been forced to merge recently, and the Wynnstay is another hunt which seems to be struggling. Cheshire Monitors told Protect the Wild:

“We’ve been getting information and genuine signs all season that the Wynnstay are really struggling, having internal troubles, staff and masters are leaving. They are hemorrhaging support and land to hunt on. They are blaming it on pressure from monitors and the police.”

It is, perhaps, no wonder that the hunt is losing both supporters and land with Woodward as its huntsman. Land owners will be wary of being associated with a hunt which is constantly caught on film, chasing foxes, and which finds itself in court. The hunt was also linked to another previous court case, when two men were convicted of digging out an active badger sett in August 2021.

Land owners should be worried, too, because they can also be charged under section 3 of the Hunting Act, for allowing illegal hunting to take place on their land. Hunt monitors and saboteurs will continue to monitor and film the Wynnstay in action, and so the hunt should expect more court cases in the future.

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Featured images of Chris Woodward by Cheshire Monitors