A group that sabotages animal hunts has revealed horrific footage of a pack of hounds tearing the body of a fox apart after a trail hunt which it claims went through the grounds of 35,000-acre Peak District estate Chatsworth House.
The fox was chased through the grounds of the property in Derbyshire which has featured in numerous films and television shows and is mentioned by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice.
Saboteurs are seen trying to wrestle the remains of the fox from a large pack of hounds which are in the process of tearing the corpse to pieces.
The estate has said it ‘does not condone illegal activity’ and is currently liaising with officers in the area.
Chatsworth House is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been the family residence of the Cavendish family for 16 generations. The 12th Duke, Peregrine Cavendish, is on record as a staunch supporter of fox hunting.
The video was posted by West Yorkshire Hunt Saboteurs [WYHS] who claimed a hunt on Tuesday in the Two Dales area of Matlock, hunting over the moors, into the grounds of Chatsworth House, and the surrounding areas.
‘Whilst within the Peak District National Park boundary, they chased this fox amongst one small piece of woodland.
‘Despite it being a ‘trail hunt’, neither the masters, huntsman nor the field were anywhere to be seen when hounds were in cry.’
The graphic video shows a small group of saboteurs rushing towards the cries of hunting hounds. The dogs are seen rushing to the fox as the saboteurs can be heard shouting: ‘Leave it!’ It then shows a pack of around 20 dogs all tugging on the fox as the saboteurs scramble to relieve the fox from their jaws.
Patti Kiss responded online: ‘Poor little fox. No sign of the hunters, out of control pack. No trail, no surprise. Thank you sabs for trying so hard.’ David Geoffrey said: ‘National trust should get them done! Poor fox, really sad! They are killing for no reason!’
The WYHS today said they feel the hunters will try to pass this incident off as an accident and there will be no criminal action taken against the hunters. A spokesman from WYHS said: ‘We will be reporting it to Derbyshire Police still in order to build up a case against the hunt, despite knowing it will not end up in a conviction.
‘Even if it was acceptable evidence, it would likely take two years of court time. Even if it made it that far and wasn’t dropped, if convicted the huntsman would only have to pay a small fine.’ The Derbyshire Rural Police Team posted on Facebook: ‘We have been made aware through various channels that an incident occured whereby a fox was killed near Matlock.
What are the rules for hunting with dogs in the UK? How fox hunters try to avoid run-ins with the law
Hunting with dogs was banned in England & Wales in 2004 (Scotland in 2002) because of the profound suffering it causes to foxes and other hunted animals, such as stags and hare. The law was not intended to stop foxes being killed, but to stop them being cruelly killed.
Exemptions were included in the law which permit dogs to be used in certain specific circumstances…
Stalking and flushing to guns:
Two dogs may be used to flush a fox from cover so it can be shot for the purpose of protecting livestock, game birds or biodiversity. The dogs must be kept under close control and the fox must be shot as soon as it breaks from cover – no further chasing is allowed.
Rescue of an injured mammal:
Two dogs may be used to capture a fox if the hunt believes it is injured and the hunting is undertaken to relieve its suffering.
Research and observation:
Two dogs are allowed to be used for the purpose of or in connection with the observation or study of a wild mammal.
Flushing to a bird of prey:
An unlimited number of dogs can be used to flush a fox from cover to a bird of prey which will catch and kill it.
Recapture of escaped wild mammal:
An unlimited number of dogs can be used to capture a fox that has escaped from captivity.
Use of a dog below ground (known as terrier work):
One terrier may be used below ground to flush out a fox to be shot for the purpose of protecting game birds being reared for shooting. The terrier men must carry written permission from the landowner. Fox hunters have long tried to find ways to avoid the law. When the Hunting Act was introduced many hunts quickly took raptors out with them so they could claim to be using the bird of prey exemption.
However, few hunts claim to be using this exemption today. Equally, some hunts went out with just two hounds and claimed to be flushing to guns, but this too quickly stopped. Today, most fox hunts say they have switched to ‘trail hunting’, where the dogs follow a pre-laid scent trail made using fox urine and does not involve a fox being chased or killed.
A Derbyshire Police spokeswoman said:
‘We understand that there may be video footage of the event and would urge anyone who is in possession of it to contact the police. We understand that there are certain individuals and groups that don’t trust us. It’s easy for us to say that we can be trusted and that any mistrust is unfounded; if only it were that easy. Rest assured that when there is evidence of offences occurring we will pursue it. We were made aware that a number of saboteur groups may have been in attendance and may have video footage of the incident. To properly pursue any prosecution, we need to gather as much evidence as we can and that is why we have appealed directly to those groups.’
This is while a spokesperson for Chatsworth Estate said:
‘We do not condone any form of illegal activity, and would never permit any such activity on the Chatsworth Estate. ‘We can confirm that the Police have been made aware of the situation, and will be dealing with it accordingly.’
In 2002, the Duke told the BBC that he would allow fox hunting on his land even if it broke the law.
This article was first published by The Daily Mail on 19 December 2019.
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