The successful prosecution and fining of a huntsman who used a pack of 40 dogs to kill a fox in Wansford, Cambridgeshire, has dealt a blow to blood sport enthusiasts who continue to flout the Hunting Act of 2004. The Act makes it illegal to hunt mammals with a pack of dogs, but loopholes and exemptions in the act are routinely exploited so that hunters continue to operate as they did prior to the passage of the Act.
Hunter, George Adams, 66, was fined £1 000 (US$1 430) and ordered to pay costs and damages of £1 030 (US$1 475) when he was convicted and sentenced by the Peterborough Magistrates Court earlier this month for using hounds to kill a fox on 1 January 2016.
Falconer John Mease, 45, was found not guilty of the charge, and also not guilty of causing unnecessary cruelty to an animal relating to the hunting of a fox in 2013.
Hunting with foxes is banned but the law permits dogs to “flush” out a fox so it can be caught by a bird of prey.
Video footage shown to the Court showed that the hunt involved about 40 hounds and the sound of a hunting horn could be clearly heard. There were no calls to ward the dogs off the fox. The video footage was taken by hunt saboteurs Ruth Nichols and Stephen Milton.
“The Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby) abhors the cruelty and blood-letting that characterise a fox hunt,” said ASI spokesman, David Barritt. “Convictions and sentences like this are very important because they send a strong message to the blood sports fraternity that it is not ‘business as usual’ in England and Wales. Hunting is illegal, full stop.”
Barritt said that the conviction and sentencing of George Adams are significant because they prove that hunting with a full pack of hounds is not the same as falconry and that hunters who claim to use the falconry exemption should be prepared to be similarly charged, convicted and fined.
“ASI will watch carefully to see that the hunting lobby, which works behind the scenes to bring back hunting, never succeeds. We are working with other organisations to ensure that the Hunting Act is enforced and that practices like falconry and “trail hunting” − that imitate real hunts using artificial scents − are not used as a cover to terrorise and kill animals.”