[Image credit: @nottinghamhuntsabs]
The start of the month saw the Dove Valley Mink Hounds sent home two Saturdays in a row after they were court in the act by saboteurs from Nottingham, Staffordshire, West Midlands and Mendip. It was noted that the mink hunts that have been stopped this season have had low numbers of supporters and as these hunts make extra efforts to be elusive, they are potentially excluding new followers. This is detrimental to their survival as this is part of their income stream and, if this pressure continues over a period of time, can force them to disband. Later in the month, saboteurs from East and West Yorkshire and Sheffield, successfully prevents the Northern Counties Minkhounds from hunting, despite their efforts to evade them.
Following the failure to replace multiple members of staff, including huntsman Gary Thorpe, the notorious East Essex Hunt have been forced to divide their hounds between five neighbouring hunts, and a hunt in Ireland, who will each take turns in hunting meets once held by East Essex Hunt. Though some may see this as the hunt securing some sort of future, it is a desperate one at best and is effectively still them disbanding. In theory, the hunt could bounce back over time but saboteurs are mindful to keep the pressure on so this doesn’t happen.
Another example of how staffing problems can cause a hunt to break down is with the recent disbanding of County Down Staghounds in Northern Ireland as a result of being unable to replace their hunt master. This position often comes with providing financial security to a hunt, which is essential for them to function. According to a committee member of the hunt, this led the hunt into disarray and proves that, even a century old hunt is vulnerable. Saboteurs from Northern Ireland stated they now have “one less hunt for us to contend with”.
Due to an amalgamation of hunts in Kent, the county will be left with only one fox hunt. This comes as a result of many years of pressure from hunt saboteurs against the notoriously violent East Sussex and Romney Marsh hunt. West Kent Hunt Saboteurs confirmed that, along with South Coast Hunt Saboteurs, they are “committed to becoming the first county in England without a registered fox hunt”. With no real support structure in the county, this remaining hunt is an ideal candidate for a dedicated pressure campaign. The pressure is on!
One method that contributes to this is through outreach and protesting. A ‘hunt ball’ organised by the Cottesmore hunt was protested by Hunt saboteurs from Hertfordshire and Northants as well as Locals Against the Cottesmore Hunt group planned to protest a ‘hunt ball’ hosted by the Cottesmore Hunt but heard rumours that it was cancelled. They turned up regardless to “make sure” that was true and later protested at a fun-ride, informing participants that they are supporting the murder of wildlife; a reality that some may not have been aware of.
England’s largest corporate landowner, north-west based water company United Utilities, has announced that they will no longer licence grouse shooting on its moorland. Though important conversations surrounding private ownership need to continue and campaigns for earth liberation be fought, the decision can arguably still be seen as positive as it is hugely detrimental to the shooting industry. Not only will this stop countless grouse from being killed, it will also result in less trapping, poisoning and snaring of wildlife. How the company will use the land for “nature, climate and people” is yet to be seen but no doubt, this is another huge blow to the shooting industry.
Preparations for the intensive badger cull are well underway with groups and individuals surveying and gathering data. Action against supplementary zones, which began in June, also continue by groups such as Devon County Hunt Sabs whose county is almost completely made up of supplementary zones. As explained by the group, though these areas have been intensely culled for 10 years, setts continue to show signs of healthy activity. Badgers themselves are incredibly resilient but have had a better chance of survival thanks to the actions taken by saboteurs and activists since the cull began. Funds are crucial for groups to continue to operate so please consider making a donation. Underground Badger Syndicate, who has been busy dealing with mole traps and high-seats, is one group asking for such support.
NO LIFE LIKE THE WILD