Victims of anti-social behaviour at the hands of hunt members are concerned by the news that only their lack of MPs is preventing the Tories scrapping the foxhunting ban.
In September 2014, the environment minister Liz Truss, a hunt supporter, confirmed the Tories were abandoning their 2010 manifesto pledge to hold a free vote during their term of office on repealing the 2004 Hunting Act. Clearly the prospect of being seen to support ripping foxes apart in the lead up to the general election is seen as a vote loser. Indicating that the current moves are a tactical retreat, Truss said, “We need to wait until we have the votes before we put the vote for repeal before Parliament.”
Truss’s comments preceded the League against Cruel Sports (LACS) releasing a YouTube video HUNT HAVOC – the other victims of illegal hunting. This features numerous small country landowners criticising local hunts for failing to keep their hounds off their land. Disturbingly, when the victims approach the police for support they are often ignored.
In West Wales, Teresa and her daughter Zoe run a small 57-acre farm located over two plots situated 2.5 miles apart and on which they have horses, chickens and All Packers as well as wildlife.
They have been regularly invaded by packs of hounds chasing foxes and when they have requested that the hunt remove the dogs then according to Teresa, “We have faced threats, been pushed over and hurt and had guns pointed at us by people who are brutish and unstable. The animals we keep get very upset and wildlife has been slaughtered. The police simply tell us that the dogs have no boundaries.”
A South West farmer who did not want to be named claims, “Whilst many hunts claim they are laying trails it is complete nonsense as basically they don’t control their packs and they divert on to live fox scent. In effect they are hunting.”
It is illegal to hunt foxes with dogs and 527 hunters have now been prosecuted under the Hunting Act. Many more illegal acts though are not being picked up by the police. To overcome this, LACS wants to see a commitment to strengthening the Hunting Act included in all political parties manifestos at the general election.
Clearly the Tories won’t be making such a commitment whilst Truss’s comments were criticised by Teresa, who said, “Scrapping the Hunting Act would be very dangerous as it would give the green light to hunters to roam wherever they want. Those who don’t want that would increasingly find themselves intimidated.”