De­nial af­ter claims that foxes were killed

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS -

» CLAIMS that two foxes were killed in il­le­gal hunts in the county have been de­nied by hunts.

The League Against Cruel Sports said it cat­a­logued 21 in­ci­dents across Glouces­ter­shire be­tween Novem­ber and Jan­uary.

It said there had been 13 in­ci­dents of ‘ter­ri­fied foxes be­ing chased by hunts’ and two ‘be­ing killed in the jaws of the hounds’.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion said there were also six re­ports of badger setts be­ing blocked up to stop foxes tak­ing refuge and two cases of horses and hounds tres­pass­ing in pur­suit of wild an­i­mals.

It said the in­ci­dents formed part of nearly 300 re­ports of sus­pected il­le­gal hunt­ing across the UK since the hunt­ing sea­son be­gan on Novem­ber 1.

But a spokes­woman for the Coun­try­side Al­liance de­scribed the al­le­ga­tions as ‘spu­ri­ous’.

The fig­ures came from re­ports to the league’s an­i­mal crime­watch ser­vice, re­ports by mon­i­tor­ing and sabo­teur groups posted on Face­book, and from in­ves­ti­ga­tors em­ployed to mon­i­tor hunts.

Di­rec­tor of cam­paigns Chris Luff­in­g­ham said: “De­spite hunt­ing be­ing banned in 2004, hunts are still sick­en­ingly chas­ing and killing wildlife in Glouces­ter­shire.”

The hunts in Glouces­ter­shire re­fute the claims.

Af­ter re­quests to speak to each hunt named by the league, we were con­tacted by the Coun­try­side Al­liance which said it dealt with all me­dia in­quiries.

A spokes­woman said: “Packs of hounds within Glouces­ter­shire op­er­ate within the law to com­ply with the Hunt­ing Act 2004. Anti-hunt­ing ac­tivists ex­ploit the fact that so­cial me­dia am­pli­fies their highly emo­tive mes­sages re­gard­less of the facts.”

She added: “It is 14 years since the Hunt­ing Act was en­forced yet there have been just 24 con­vic­tions un­der the Hunt­ing Act 2004 re­lat­ing to reg­is­tered hunts, de­spite more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion days’ hunt­ing hav­ing taken place by over 250 hunts.”

Glouces­ter­shire po­lice said it was aware of some of the al­le­ga­tions.

A spokes­woman said: “Glouces­ter­shire Con­stab­u­lary takes all re­ports of wildlife crime very se­ri­ously. “We en­cour­age mem­bers of the pub­lic who are aware of in­ci­dents to re­port them to us and pro­vide us with as much ev­i­dence as pos­si­ble.

“We ac­cept there is an in­crease in re­port­ing of badger sett block­ing which co­in­cides with the hunt sea­son, and if there is ev­i­dence of a re­cent in­ten­tional block we will in­ves­ti­gate.

“Some re­ports, how­ever, re­fer to old, un­used setts and though the call is well meant, it does not war­rant po­lice ac­tion.”

She said no ar­rests had been made in con­nec­tion with the al­leged in­ci­dents.

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