Hunters shoot exhausted stag at close range after 3-hour chase with dogs

NEWS AND COMMENT: Background info: In the UK, the Hunting Act 2004 (the ‘Act’) outlawed the hunting of mammals with dogs. However, there are exemptions, and it is these exemptions which provide loopholes to unscrupulous fox and deer hunters in their countryside pastimes. The Act allows hunters to use up to 2 dogs to (1) locate a wounded deer (2) flush out prey from undergrowth and to be shot ‘as soon as possible’ or (3) the ‘observation or study of the wild mammal’.

In this instance a stag was chased for sport for 3 hours by hunters on horseback with hounds. As the chase was so long the stag became exhausted and gave up. He stood by a fence and allowed one of the hunters to approach with a rifle to within ten yards and shoot him. Then the man slit the stag’s throat. A group of at least 8 hunters joined the kill and a crowd gathered.

Stag hunter shoots exhausted stag at close range and then slit its throat while other watched
Stag hunter shoots exhausted stag at close range and then slit its throat while other watched. Image: The League Against Cruel Sports

The huntsman was part of the Quantock Staghounds. It occurred in Somerset. The League Against Cruel Sports (the ‘League’) were in attendance. They followed the hunt when it began chasing the stag at 4 pm last Monday. They filmed the chase and killing from Halsway Hill on the A358 according to The Times newspaper.

The League told The Times that the hunts normally had dogs in trucks which were used to replenish the tired couple of dogs involved in the chase. Anti-hunt campaigners say that this example was an abuse of the Act as there was no need to chase the stag on horseback for 3 hours to identify and shoot the deer. Or to conduct ‘research’. Where is the research in this brutal act?

It is telling to be told that there are no records of any research carried out by these sorts of hunts or studies published by staghound hunting groups since the ban came into effect. If the Act was being complied with there’d be some sort of report for scientific purposed but there are none which indicates that the hunters are exploiting the law’s loopholes.

In defence a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance said: “The Quantock Staghounds operate perfectly legally using exemptions in the Hunting Act and play a crucial part in managing what is one of the most successful red deer herds in England”.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns at the League said: “The poor animal was cruelly chased for sport for three hours before being cornered and shot, clearly weak and exhausted. This clearly demonstrates why the government needs to strengthen the Hunting Act. Hunting with dogs is still going on in the UK despite the ban with the hunts cynically abusing exemptions in the hunting laws. It’s time for change”.

In a setback for animal advocates the change in UK leadership with the ousting of Boris Johnson has led to Lord Goldsmith (a friend of Carrie Johnson) being stripped of his domestic animal welfare brief. He is a champion of animal welfare. I suspect that the Liz Truss and her cabinet will be less interested in beefing up the Act than the previous government.

You do not have to look far to find examples of alleged illegal deer hunting. The BBC reported an example of the police failing to take action when a deer was allegedly illegally shot at Bicknoller Quarry. Ms Armstrong from Somerset Wildlife Crime claims that the police are disinclined to deal with breaches of the Hunting Act and the illegal killing of deer and foxes.

She said that stags are regularly and consistently being hunted and killed on the Quantock Hills. She claims that the killings are illegal because they do not comply with the exemptions under the Hunting Act.

The police, through their Rural Affairs Unit sergeant, Andy Murphy said that they listen to the concerns raised by wildlife organisations, and they want to reassure people that they will always treat people fairly and evenly. Ms Armstrong believes that the police favour the hunting fraternity and are against animal advocates in any guise.

Comment: I’m convinced that the police being right wing or having a tendency to be right wing are going to favour hunters rather than those who are against hunting. You cannot rely on the police to find the perpetrators of crimes involving animal welfare. They de-prioritise these sorts of crimes and don’t want to know about it.

The British citizen, if they are concerned about animal welfare, are on their own. They cannot rely upon the useless police to do their job. Damn, the new Met Commissioner Mark Rowley admits that the Met Police are failing the public and that the public have lost trust in London’s police force. But it is more than just the Metropolitan Police. It is policing generally that is failing.

Below are some more articles on fox hunting.

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