Hunt ter­rier man fined over fox ‘in a bar­rel’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - UK & World Update - By WIL­LIAM SMITH news@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk @Peter­bor­oughet

A LEAD­ING mem­ber of Peter­bor­ough’s Fitzwilliam Hunt has been fined for a breach of anti-hunt­ing laws.

Game­keeper John By­croft (67), who is the ter­rier man to the Fitzwilliam Hunt, was found with an­other man us­ing ter­ri­ers to flush foxes from un­der­ground dens.

But he fell foul of the law af­ter putting a live preg­nant vixen in a tiny bar­rel be­cause he “didn’t have the heart” to shoot her.

The Hunt­ing Act de­mands that foxes flushed out of their dens are im­me­di­ately shot dead by a com­pe­tent per­son.

Po­lice came across the two men only af­ter be­ing alerted to the sound of shoot­ing in a field in Fen Road, Hol­beach on April 25 last year, Spald­ing mag­is­trates heard.

Of­fi­cers found By­croft and Jamie Round (24) nearby with an open horse­box with a plas­tic bar­rel in­side. The bar­rel mea­sured just 75cms high and 30cms across and con­tained a live fox.

The court heard By­croft in­tended to re­lease the fox else­where, but po­lice or­dered her to be freed on the spot.

By­croft, of We­ston Hills Road, Low Ful­ney, de­nied one of­fence un­der the Hunt­ing Act 2004 and one un­der the An­i­mal Wel­fare Act 2006, but both were proved at the end of a two day RSPCA pros­e­cu­tion.

He was or­dered to pay a to­tal of £2,065 – com­pris­ing fines of £525 for each of­fence, £1,000 costs and a £15 vic­tim sur­charge.

Job­less Round, of Penny Hill, Hol­beach, de­nied iden­ti­cal of­fences. He was ac­quit­ted of the Hunt­ing Act charge but found guilty of the Wel­fare Act charge, which in­volved con­fin­ing the fox in a bar­rel with in­suf­fi­cient light, space, ven­tila- tion and a suit­able en­vi­ron­ment to ex­hibit nor­mal be­hav­iour. Round was fined £165 and must pay £100 costs and a £15 vic­tim sur­charge.

The court heard that By­croft had writ­ten con­sent to be on the neigh­bour­ing land.

Mag­is­trates found nei­ther man breached the tres­pass el­e­ment of Hunt­ing Act law, but By­croft alone breached the pro­vi­sion re­quir­ing him to shoot the fox as soon as rea­son­ably prac­ti­cal.

Solic­i­tor Daven Naghen said Round did not have a gun and ex­pected By­croft to shoot the an­i­mal.

Solic­i­tor Rachel Stevens said By­croft is held in high re­gard as a game­keeper.

She said By­croft felt shoot­ing the fox would have caused un­nec­es­sary suf­fer­ing to her cubs.

There were ground nest­ing birds on the site where she was cap­tured and he wanted to re­lease her else­where.

No one for the hunt was avail­able to com­ment.

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