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We’re supporting a new sab group in the west of England

The 2023/24 ‘hunting season’ (and how appalling is it that a wildlife crime still has the term ‘season’ attached to it?) may have ended at last, but that doesn’t mean that monitor and sab groups are not making plans and rebuilding or restocking after a bruising nine months – or that Protect the Wld is not still funding and supporting groups where we can.

We were recently contacted by a new group, Two Counties Hunt Sabs, that is starting up in an area of England that needs all the attention it can get: Somerset and Dorset. A largely rural part of the country, the two counties from which the group take their name are home to some of the most vicious and unpleasant hunts still remaining – the violent and lawbreaking Blackmore and Sparkford Vale for instance, and the disgraceful Quantock Stag Hounds whose ‘depraved supporters’ blight the Quantock Hills AONB. There are though a myriad of hunts that haven’t hit the headlines simply because they have so far escaped the ‘attention they deserve’.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some remarkably courageous groups already tackling hunting and crime issues in the south-west – the North Dorset Hunt Sabs, Weymouth Animal Rights, Mendip Hunt Sabs, and Somerset Hunt Sabs to name just a few – but they can’t be everywhere all the time. The region is packed with hunts often meeting three (or more) times a week. Working on their own or with these other groups, the Two Counties will give a very welcome boost to efforts to protect local wildlife.

Why do we think that? Because we’ve spoken with them. They are highly experienced sabs, totally focussed, and pre-launch have already brought together ten individuals. They have also been working to build up the equipment they need.

They had a few gaps still, which is why they came to us to see if we might dip into our Protecting the Wild Equipment Fund to provide some bodycams. That’s a call we will always try to respond to, and we were delighted to send them four bodycams this week.

 

Image credit Two Counties Hunt Sabs

“We’re a group of Hunt Saboteurs’ from the Somerset and Dorset area. Our aim is to maximise the hit potential in this locality, as well as to support the other sab groups from these areas. We know there’s a few groups covering these areas, but there’s a huge amount of hunts going untouched or not getting the attention they deserve! Hopefully we can all fix that, together.

We’ve been lucky enough to have some support from Protect the Wild who have donated these bodyworn cameras to our group. For us, the safety of our team is absolutely paramount, so these cameras are really going to help!

 

We’ve managed to get our hands on a bunch of handheld cameras as well as other bits of essential kit – all of which we’ve paid for ourselves.

We will hopefully be acquiring more kit as we go along, and of course will gratefully accept any other donations to help get us out on the road.”

 

Hopefully we will have helped them stay safer, but like groups up and down England and Wales the Two Counties Hunt Sabs will have a tough task ahead of them when the ‘criminals on horseback’ start to hunt the countryside again in the autumn. That’s because hunts use fox cubs to train their hounds for the ‘season’ ahead (see ‘Spoof sports show used to expose sick pastime of ‘cub hunting‘) and are desperate to keep ‘eyes in the field’ off them while they do it. But the Two Counties are under no illusions and we will stay in touch with them to report how they get on.

  • In the meantime if you’d like to learn more about this fledgling group please visit them on Facebook and Instagram.

 


 

  • Our Substack and website content is free (and always will be) but we offer the option of paid Substack subscriptions to help us support the groups we work with. They start from as little as £3.50/month and all the money we receive from those paid subscriptions is ringfenced and used to support those on the frontline protecting wildlife – like the Two Counties Hunt Sabs.With your help we are ALL supporting real people protecting real animals and making a real difference on the ground where it matters most.