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Police are investigating the Wynnstay Hunt for interfering with a badger sett

North Wales Police are investigating two men for interfering with a badger sett. And video shows the suspects running away the moment they’re caught.

Footage released by the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) on 17 February shows two men escaping on a quad bike after they were confronted by sabs. The 27-second video shows the cameraperson chasing a person through a wood. That person jumps onto a quad, which already has a second person on it, driving, before the two speed off. The cameraperson names them as Chris Woodward, huntsman for the Wynnstay Hunt, and “Mr Young”, which the HSA said is whipper-in Charlie Young. In the video, the cameraperson notes Woodward is present at an active badger sett.

A longer version of the incident, published by the Times, shows the cameraperson initially surveying a sett and showing it is active, before cutting to the piece of footage published by the HSA. Following the quad speeding off, the four-minute video then shows the cameraperson returning to the sett to reveal that it has been blocked.

The Times reported that the incident occurred near Malpas, north Wales, and said:

“The time and date stamped video, which shows the GPS location, shows the active badger setts undisturbed at 12.53pm on February 3, before two men filled them in at 1.14pm.”

The cameraperson told the paper that the incident occurred on a Friday – with an expectation that the Wynnstay Hunt would meet nearby the following day.

Protect the Wild contacted North Wales Police about the incident, who said:

“The North Wales Police Rural Crime Team is aware of the report and the matter is under investigation.”

Not the Wynnstay Hunt’s first time

This isn’t the first time people connected to the Wynnstay Hunt have been caught interfering with setts. Two men were convicted in October 2022 for digging out a badger sett the day before the Wynnstay Hunt were planning to meet there. As a result, the court ordered Jamie Barnes and Ben Davies to pay out more than £1500 in fines. The court was told the hunt had asked Barnes to “get a rogue fox” ahead of its meet.

Chris Woodward Wynnstay Hunt
Chris Woodward, via Cheshire Monitors.

Meanwhile, huntsman Woodward narrowly escaped conviction in November 2022 after crucial footage was dropped from a court case against him “at the eleventh hour”. The video showed Wynnstay Hunt hounds chasing a fox across a field with Woodward following close behind in February of that year. Then, in January 2023, Cheshire Monitors filmed Woodward riding his horse directly at one of its members. And in February, ubiquitous hunt supporter Ian Jones was filmed ‘sieg heiling’ at Cheshire Monitors during a meet of Wynnstay Hunt. Lesley, from the monitor group, noted that the video shows Claire Daresbury ‘laughing’ at the gesture.

As the Times noted, Peter Greenall, also known as Lord Daresbury, is a master of the Wynnstay Hunt. Claire is his wife, and he was present on the day Jones made his offensive gesture. Greenall is also a director of the Countryside Alliance, and a close supporter of MP Simon Hart, who is himself a former chair of the pro-hunting lobby group. Unsurprisingly, it offered little comment to the Times, telling the paper simply that it “supports legal hunting activity”.

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