Fox running through a field in evening sunlight

Victory for foxes as another hunt bites the dust

The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt has announced that it is folding, and its staff will be made redundant on 1 May. The welcome news shows that the hunting industry is facing an uphill battle to survive.

Hunt saboteurs had already witnessed the hunt saying that it would disband on Friday 3 March. But the decision was announced to the mainstream media on 7 March. The hunt’s collapse is, apparently, due to “increasing urbanisation and development across the countryside”.

But the Meynell has played down the fact that it’s folding, suggesting instead that it is pooling resources into other hunts. The BBC said that the hunt:

“will work with the North Staffordshire, South Notts and Moorlands Hunts, with all of its dogs to be rehomed.”

Staffordshire Hunt Saboteurs wrote on Facebook:

“We have been involved in a hard fought campaign against this hunt for a few seasons now with other parties and finally it’s paid off. They tried to make out they were merging. They laughed in our faces at their closing meet making out we were liars. This arrogance and ignorance has put you in the position you are in.

Hunting foxes right to the end

In their HIT report of the Meynell’s final meet, Staffordshire Sabs wrote:

“After two hunting convictions, multiple sab groups putting in the hours, and centuries of history, the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt finally ended with under thirty riders on a Friday…”

It will come as little surprise that the hunt continued to chase multiple foxes on its final day. The sabs reported:

“As the day neared its end they hunted the area around Stydd Hall, no pretence that they were doing anything but hunting down a fox. It seems riders spotted one flee that we had missed, and Truscott circled with hounds to pick up the line and eventually found it. Sabs rated hounds and tried to slow them to buy the fox time but they marked to ground in scrub and here the hunt staff hung back to avoid responsibility for any “accidents” while letting the hounds scour the area.
Thankfully the fox remained unnoticed and despite their efforts over the previous half hour to flush it then chase, the Meynell gave up on their last ever fox and trotted off back to their horse boxes without the kill. As they rode off, we saw the fox break and flee to safety so can guarantee no kill here. We could almost swear the fox stuck a middle finger up at their retreating backs (or perhaps that was just us).”

Criminal hunt

As the sabs pointed out, the Meynell staff have been convicted twice of illegal hunting. In 2019, two members of the hunt – Sam Staniland and William Tatler – pleaded guilty under the Hunting Act after they were caught cubbing. Former Meynell whipper-in, the notorious hunt criminal Ollie Finnegan, pleaded not guilty during the same trial, despite League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) footage incriminating him. In the end, the CPS dropped the case against Finnegan and three others, while Staniland and Tatler received fines.

That conviction came seven years after another guilty verdict for the Meynell. In 2012, the hunt was, again, convicted of cubbing. Hunt master John Greenall was fined £3,000, while Glenn Morris, who worked for the hunt, was fined £250.

Both the 2012 and 2019 incidents took place in the same location, and both times the hunt was murdering fox cubs.

Good riddance

And so it is good news for foxes that the Meynell has folded. Whether the hunt remains true to its word and rehomes all of its hounds, remains to be seen. After all, hunts are renowned for gruesome cruelty towards their dogs, particularly those that are no longer needed.

The news comes just days after one of the most notorious hunts in the country, the Avon Vale, was permanently expelled from hunting’s governing body. Hunt sabs say that it is the end of the road for the Avon Vale, too. On top of this, a number of other hunts have been forced to merge recently, as the industry struggles to stay afloat.

Of course, this is largely down to hunt saboteurs and monitors, who are on the ground, week in, week out, preventing foxes from being killed, as well as filming crucial footage that incriminates hunt staff. Their roles are vital for shutting down hunting once and for all.

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