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Sam Staniland, huntsman for the Essecx and Suffolk Hunt, during a cubbing meet in September 2022.

Resident says an Essex hunt killed a fox on Ministry of Defence land after hearing ‘unmistakeable’ screeching

A resident near Colchester has reported that a fox ‘screeched’ as hounds killed them. The incident occurred during a meet of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt. And the whole thing took place on Ministry of Defence land.

Local paper the Daily Standard reported that a resident of Berechurch, near Colchester in Essex, heard “screeching” on 11 January as the Essex and Suffolk Hunt passed nearby. The resident believed it was the sound of hounds killing a fox in nearby Friday Woods, and told the paper:

“The dogs were out of sight of the hunt. Their shouting and horns could be heard some distance away.

“We heard dogs barking nearby.

“There was lots of screeching, lots of noise and then silence. It was unmistakably a fox.”

Friday Woods is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Suffolk and Essex Hunt Saboteurs have repeatedly called for the MOD to end its licensing of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt. Nonetheless, it remains a regular meet for the hunt. It previously hunted Friday Woods in late November 2022.

Hunt master James Buckle denied a fox was hunted. He told the Daily Standard that “three trails” were hunted and “everything went completely smoothly”. Buckle himself wasn’t present at the meet.

Friday Woods, Berechurch, Essex.
Friday Woods, via Rebecca A Wills/Geograph.

Lynn Hiskey, a member of monitor group Suffolk Against Foxhunting, shared a video on 9 January that she said was taken during a meet of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt. The bodycam footage shows hounds chasing a fox across a field. The date on the footage says 7 January, just three days before the meet at Friday Woods.

The hunt killed a horse

Protect the Wild recently reported on a fox escaping terriermen with the Essex and Suffolk Hunt. The incident occurred in front of members of Suffolk Against Foxhunting during the 2022 Boxing Day meet. As monitors confronted five terriermen – including Buckle’s son – a fox bolted from a “recently dug hole” behind them. Police are currently investigating the incident.

The hunt was also responsible for the death of a horse near Wormingford early last year. Its hounds spooked a 21-year-old horse named Barney after flooding his paddock. Barney ran through the gate and broke his leg, laying in agony for 40 minutes before owner Lisa found him. As a result, she had to put Barney down.

And in March 2022, Hadleigh Nub News reported that police were looking a member of the Essex and Suffolk Hunt following assaults including a “racially aggravated assault” on hunt saboteurs.

Huntsman Sam Staniland admitted illegally hunting in 2019 during his time at the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt. The crime took place during cubbing season.

#NoDefence

The Friday Woods incident is not the first time the MOD has come under fire for hosting hunts. Most notably, Salisbury Plain Monitors filmed huntsman Charles Carter of the Royal Artillery Hunt chasing a fox on MOD land at Larkhill, Wiltshire. Police investigated the footage and wanted to bring charges, but failed to do so due to a legal technicality.

A fox runs from Charles Carter of the Royal Artillery Hunt.
A fox runs from Charles Carter of the Royal Artillery Hunt, via Salisbury Plain Monitors.

More recently, the Hunt Saboteurs Association wrote of three different hunts that met on MOD land on 7 January. This included the Sennybridge Farmers’ Hunt, who met at the Sennybridge Training Area. South Wales Hunt Saboteurs reported intervening as three foxes fled the hunt throughout the day.

And Protect the Wild reported on defence secretary Ben Wallace’s strange outburst against hunt saboteurs in December 2022. His Twitter tirade came after ITV News reporter Rupert Evelyn put pressure on Wallace following documents released under the Freedom of Information Act apparently showing the MOD itself is growing tired of the Royal Artillery Hunt.

Many of England and Wales’ major landowners have already banned hunting from their land. The MOD is one of the last to do so. But the Essex and Suffolk Hunt’s alleged killing of a fox on MOD land once again reinforces the immediate need for the government department to end its support of this criminal activity.

Send a letter demanding an end to hunting on Ministry of Defence land via Protect the Wild’s online form.

Featured image via South Norfolk Hunt Saboteurs.