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

No prosecution for hunters who buried fox alive

Cotswold Hunt men who tied a fox into a sack, then buried her alive, have escaped prosecution.

Back in March 2023, hunt saboteurs from Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch found the fox trapped inside an artificial earth. Footage, shown on Channel 4 News, shows the vixen being rescued.

A hunt saboteur, known as Magpie, told Channel 4 News at the time:

“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.”

There’s speculation that hunt members had hidden the bagged fox inside the earth because they were fearful of being caught with the vixen by hunt saboteurs. 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.

Gloucestershire Police chooses not to prosecute

If you’re a hunt saboteur or monitor – or even if you’re a follower of fox hunting news – you’ll know how difficult it is to successfully secure a hunt prosecution, even if there’s mountains of evidence against hunt staff. But it seemed certain that the men who committed this crime would be prosecuted, especially as the incident made nationwide headlines.

Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch said on Facebook:

“The Gloucestershire Police Rural Crime Sergeant contacted us to say they were unable to proceed with any prosecutions. Suspects were interviewed but they were unable to prove who put the vixen in the earth. There were multiple mixed DNA samples on the retrieved bag thus no further evidence was obtainable to identify whose it was or where it came from.”
The group continued:
“This news came to us after 6 months of waiting. We are naturally very disappointed and upset that there will be no further action taken by the police, although not surprised. Of course, the police know who the terrier-men were who helped the hunt on that day as well as who oversaw the hunt where the fox was, so let us hope they continue to keep these wildlife criminals under surveillance.”

The fact that Gloucestershire Police would so readily give up on a prosecution is likely an indication of how speciesist the force is. The police literally had a bag full of DNA, yet couldn’t press charges against anyone. It even knew exactly who the terriermen were that day, and still chose not to prosecute. This is a classic example of how the UK’s police forces fail our wildlife time and time again.



Cotswold Hunt continues business as normal

After the incident made nationwide news, hunt’s governing body, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), had little choice but to suspend the Cotswold Hunt. It said at the time:

“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…”

We can assume, then, that since the police force has dropped its investigation, hunt’s governing body will safely look after its own and allow the Cotswold to continue terrorising foxes under BHSA affiliation. Indeed, the sabs say that the hunt is carrying on as usual, and is out cubbing.

Support sabs on the ground

Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch concluded on Facebook:

“One thing is certain – the cruelty to wildlife will continue and sabs will be there to bear witness.
There is no justice – just us.”
Indeed, with a Rural Crime Team that seemingly doesn’t want to prosecute hunters, no matter how unspeakably cruel their actions, it’s down to sabs on the ground to protect Gloucestershire’s foxes.
  • You can donate to Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch by PayPal here, or by Ko-fi here.
  • Support the Vale Wildlife Hospital, which rescued the fox that day, and is on call to help wildlife 24/7. Donate here.



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Featured image via Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch/C4 News