Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Fox hunting: activists claim trail-hunts are a cover for continued bloodsport

Ahead of the year’s main Boxing Day hunt, saboteurs say hunters are not obeying the law and loopholes must be closed

Tue 26 Dec ‘17 06.00 GMTLast modified on Tue 26 Dec ‘17 06.02 GMT

As horses, hounds and hunters gather on the busiest day of the year for fox hunting, activists have raised concerns that trail-hunting is being used as a cover for bloodsport more than a decade after it was banned in the UK.

At least 300 hunts are expected to take place across the country on Boxing Day. Riders on horseback gallop behind a pack of hounds directed by a huntsman while terriermen, whose traditional role was to dig foxes out of holes so they could be hunted, follow on quad bikes. Hunt supporters bring up the rear on foot. They all say they’re legally trail-hunting – following an animal-based scent, often fox urine – with hounds for sport.

Engaged in a half-century game of cat and mouse with the hunters are the Hunt Saboteurs, a nonviolent direct action group who attempt to document and prevent the killing of animals. They say these hunts are not obeying the law and that recent videos apparently showing a huntswoman whipping an activist repeatedly and a female saboteur being assaulted requiring hospital treatment are just the tip of the iceberg.

The saboteurs believe hunting for bloodsport is continuing and that trail-hunting is an effective cover.

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