NEWS AND COMMMENT: News media reports that six people have been arrested and 22 terrier dogs seized by four police forces in a coordinated criminal investigation believed to be the largest of its kind linked to foxhunting.
As I understand it, prior to the Hunting Act 2004, when foxhunting was permitted, terrier men followed the hunt. When the fox went to ground into a burrow, they would use their dogs to flush the fox out which enabled the foxhunting to continue. The Hunting Act places stipulations on this activity and the terrier men can be prosecuted if they don’t abide by the stipulations.
It is my understanding that in this instance it is suspected that they have been in breach of the Hunting Act 2004. And on my understanding, too, there may be allegations against dog welfare.
There were early morning raids carried out by the police and RSPCA at hunt kennels and at the homes of terrier men.
ITV News reported on the allegation that they are suspected of involvement in terrier work for foxhunts. The reporting is unclear on this but it appears that the alleged suspects have been in foxhunting with hounds.
Also, traditionally terrier men would be used to block up badgers’ sets and fox dens before the hunt to stop foxes going to ground. If a fox did go to ground, they would be located by the terriers and forced out of the den to be shot or, as mentioned, for the hunt to continue.
The news reports that the hunts across the country were alerted to the raids using the WhatsApp application. Messages were being circulated that the RSPCA and the police were “looking for damaged terriers” and that they should “alert everyone in your area that could be visited”.
That is a little bemusing to me because it implies that foxhunters had learnt about the forthcoming raids and prepared for them. If that is true it must have hampered the investigation substantially.
There is also and question mark about why foxhunters still use dogs because there is no role for terrier men as all foxhunting is banned and they have to do trail hunting instead. Apparently, terrier men still follow trail hunts but the organisers probably claim that they are not connected with their activities. Another bemusing and fudging of what apparently is going on i.e. alleged true foxhunting.
The Hunt Saboteurs Association said:
“We’re pleased that these raids have happened and it’s great that the RSPCA and police are finally clamping down. If hunts are indeed hunting within the law, as they still claim, there is no need for terriers and terrier men.”
In defence, the British Hound Sports Association said that it expected “the highest standard of animal welfare from all of our members and accredited hands at all times and would welcome any persons found to have ill-treated animals”.
There have been other instances of alleged and actual breaches of the Huntin Act 2004. Fox hunters don’t want to give up their cruel pastime and it appears that they find ways to wriggle around a law which they despise.