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Police investigating Essex and Suffolk Hunt after fox bolts from badger sett

Suffolk Police is investigating the Essex and Suffolk Hunt after monitors witnessed members of the hunt trying to force a fox to bolt from a badger sett. The incident happened during the hunt’s Boxing Day meet – the most important day in the hunting calendar.

While the hunt master was giving his speech, wildlife monitors tracked down the hunt’s terriermen in nearby woodland. They confronted the five men – one of whom was the hunt master’s son – who had been meddling with a badger sett. The men argued with the monitors, trying to stop them from entering the woods. Anna, who was at the scene, reported that one of the men made a phone call to say that the monitors had ruined the terriermen’s plans.

What followed straight after has potentially incriminated the hunt. Anna said:

“All the time the cameras were videoing, to my surprise, and to their dismay, what should pop out of a recently dug hole, right behind Tom [Buckle, the hunt master’s son], a hole he had deliberately been standing in front of, during our entire discussion. Yes you guessed correctly, a lovely beautiful fox!”

Protect the Wild spoke to Suffolk Against Foxhunting, who told us that the group had been regularly monitoring the hunt before this incident:

“We have been following the activities of the terriermen and some regular hunt followers, so we know that they frequent some woodland more than others. Monitors had discovered blocked setts the week before this, and had gone ahead to see if this had happened again, when they spotted the terriermen. This was a big sett that had three entrances with fresh soil piled beside it. The fox literally ran from the sett and was witnessed and filmed by monitors and terriermen.”

The hole that the fox escaped from was freshly dug.

 

Essex and Suffolk Terrierman

Hunt violence

Suffolk Against Foxhunting told us that the Suffolk and Essex Hunt “is a particularly aggressive organisation.”

In January 2022, hunt saboteurs reported that they were attacked by the hunt, as riders hit saboteurs with their whips and used “their horses to block them.” The sabs said:

“Riders then hit sabs with their whips and used horses to block our way. Getting back into our vehicle, one rammed the doors into sabs as we tried entering. Some bumps and bruises and door damage, but it could have been so much worse. Supporters of the hunt took affront to our efforts and tried to assault sabs, but quickly retracted.”

And in 2013, hunt saboteurs were violently attacked by supporters of the hunt. The Hunt Saboteurs Association reported at the time:

“Using sticks tipped with metal, supporters of the hunt assaulted and beat the saboteurs, aiming in particular for the person carrying the video camera, smashing it beyond use. Saboteurs were also kicked and punched in the head in the sustained attack.

Following this incident the hunt chased a fox to earth into a badger sett… Saboteurs on the scene were again attacked with spades and multiple assaults were committed, resulting in many injuries…”

Illegal hunting

Suffolk Against Foxhunting told us that the hunt master “likes to employ hunt staff who are already convicted [under the Hunting Act].” Indeed, huntsman Sam Staniland pleaded guilty for illegal hunting after he was filmed cub hunting with his former hunt, the Meynall and South Staffordshire, in October 2018. He was fined a pitiful £350.

Of course, it will come as little surprise that hunt monitors and saboteurs regularly see the Essex and Suffolk Hunt acting illegally, too. Week in, week out the hunt is caught chasing foxes and deer. Suffolk and Essex Hunt Sabs reported that on the 8 October:

“the hounds were on a deer again, and hunt staff yet again were slow to react. Sabs and monitors did their best to intervene but sadly weren’t able to stop some of the hounds attacking a muntjac deer. The deer managed to escape and was seen limping away. We searched the area, but unfortunately couldn’t find the muntjac to see how bad the injuries were and if medical treatment was needed.”

The sabs continued:

“Monitors and ourselves did our best to rate the hounds, and two foxes were seen fleeing south towards the road, their scent was covered with citronella by well placed monitors. Hounds were unable to pick their scent back up, despite the huntsman trying.”

And on 6 October 2022 the sabs reported:

“[The] hounds went into cry and rioted on the deer, sabs and monitors did their best to rate the hounds…however the hounds continued to chase the deer. No attempt from the Huntsman was seen to stop the hounds from rioting and when asked to call his hounds off, his reply was “can’t we do it?””
“The hunt put hounds into coverts likely to hold foxes so it was wasn’t long before a fox was running for its life but sabs sprayed the line and the fox got away. Shortly after, with sabs with them the whole time another fox ran for its life, with sabs holding up hounds with calls and whip to give the fox time to put distance between itself and the hounds.”

The number of incidents goes on.

On top of this, back in 2011, the hunt made national headlines when its huntsman reportedly clubbed a fox to death on the patio of an elderly person’s garden. Absurdly, Essex police said that no offence was committed, and didn’t take further action.

The hunt has also been responsible for breaking a family horse’s leg after its hounds ran through private land, terrifying the animal, which then bolted. The horse, named Barney, had to be put down after laying in agony. The hunt had been supposedly trail hunting at the time, and so in theory should have laid an artificial trail for the hounds to follow. And yet the hounds raced through private land which was out of bounds to them.

Support the sabs and monitors

As you can see, the role of people on the ground, filming the hunts, documenting illegalities, and stopping hunters from killing wildlife, is absolutely vital.

Wildlife monitor Anna said:

“I say to all of you, who are sitting on the fence or really believe the [Essex and Suffolk Hunt] trail hunt, they don’t, they never have, and they never will! They can’t even hunt fairly; they have to cheat and use a bagged or bolted fox. And they will keep doing this until they are stopped, we can do this, we can shame them, we can monitor them every week, until they realise that we will not stop until they stop.”

Please support Suffolk and Essex Hunt Sabs here. You can donate to Suffolk Against Foxhunting’s Paypal: suffolkagainstfoxhunting@gmail.com

Featured images via Suffolk Against Foxhunting