Fox rescued after being ‘bagged’ and trapped underground for illegal hunt

Members of the Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch and Three Counties Hunt Sabs have rescued a fox which hunters had tied up in a bag and stored under the ground. According to a report by the Hunt Saboteurs Association, the ‘Sabs’, as they are known, rescued the animal during the Cotswold Hunt Meet in Gloucestershire last month, after hearing its cry.

Sabs approached a wood where hounds were hunting, and after driving them away, discovered the fox in an ‘artificial earth’ – a network of underground chambers and pipes which hunters use to encourage foxes into an area so they can ensure there are animals to be hunted on the day.

When Sabs uncovered one of the chambers, they discovered a tied-up sack that moved when they tried to lift it. Inside was a live fox which, following a careful examination, was released. Experts say she likely had dependent pups.

“A vixen with cubs somewhere, trapped and tied up in a sack, buried in a purpose-built torture chamber... Whenever we think we’ve seen the worst of fox hunting’s sickening savagery, it gets worse,” said naturalist and BBC television presenter, Chris Packham, who speaks out against hunting. “It’s time these dog-shooting, hound-whipping, badger-baiting, horse-kicking criminal monsters were shut down forever. Please help us end hunting now.”

After chasing off a pack of hunting dogs, the Sabs discovered a fox bagged and trapped in an "artificial earth."

Image credit: Hunt Saboteurs Association

According to the article, a terrierman was overheard saying to another, “Get the sack, it’s evidence [that] the fox was kept at your place”. Sabs had already retrieved the sack to use as evidence.

Following the Avon Vale being caught digging out foxes, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), the governing body for hunting, advised all its members, including the Cotswold Hunt, that terrier work should be suspended pending a review. The discovery of the fox proves that not only are hunts ignoring this ban, but they are also breaking the law by keeping captive foxes to be chased and killed.

“We were shocked and sickened by what we found whilst out sabbing the Cotswold Hunt [on] 18 March 2023. The small, terrified vixen had been tied up in a bag, stuffed into a chamber under the ground called an artificial earth awaiting her cruel fate,” said the Cirencester Illegal Hunt Watch in a statement.

“Hounds were marking the ground where she was buried and we believe she would have been released and hunted by the blood thirsty psychopaths out with the hunt if we hadn’t been there. This poor fox would be disorientated away from her territory and could possibly have cubs dependent on her elsewhere. We hope this wildlife crime is taken seriously by Gloucestershire police and those responsible for her suffering get the punishment they deserve.”

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, Lee Moon, said, “The BHSA attempted to assert their authority over their member hunts by banning the Avon Vale. They must now do the same to the Cotswold Hunt if they don’t wish to appear toothless to the British public. Fox hunting has been illegal for over 18 years, yet hunts are still actively using artificial earths and keeping live foxes to be chased and killed.

“These organised criminal gangs have shown time and again that they are unwilling and unable to obey the law and so clearly the only option is the disbanding of all hunts, starting with the complete abolition of terrier work.”

Banner credit: Hunt Saboteurs Association

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