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27th August 2015

Katie Angus & Friends Make History At The 148th Bucks County Show

Katie Angus from Buckinghamshire took an anti hunting message to the 2015 Bucks County Show for the first time in its 148 year history!

After a really long day, it’s time for an update!!

So for the first time in the 148 year history of Bucks County Show, today there was an anti-fox hunting presence! Myself & 2 good friends, accompanied by my good old dad, set up our modest table at the biggest agricultural show in the country! We had no idea what to expect to be honest. It was a first & anything was possible!

Our stand was really out of the way which was a shame but according to the organisers it was difficult to fit us in so late on. But there was a steady flow of visitors past the stand & lots of people who stopped by! Some to voice their support & encouragement for what we were doing, some who wanted to give us their pro Hunt views, most of which did so respectfully, & the odd person who just wanted to have a go at us!! Which we were prepared for.

We were told they had “been expecting trouble”! They certainly got no trouble from us. Other than a presence they clearly didn’t want. But we were professional & respectful to all who approached & we managed to educate several people about foxes & their behaviour, & to dispel a few myths which was our aim! Once you understand them, & the proven ineffectiveness of fox hunting, it’s extremely difficult for an empathetic & compassionate mind to see any justification for animals being chased to a death of being torn to bits by dogs! It was great to have the opportunity to do this, & to discuss the statistical facts of the ineffectiveness with pro Hunt supporters. I’m sure we also gave some of them some food for thought.

One pro Hunt supporter commended our efforts & said they were pleased we were there to reflect a balanced view.

Thankfully society is changing its attitudes towards bloodsports & animal welfare matters. In both rural & urban communities. Our presence today was a huge step forward for the majority of us who are opposed to fox hunting & in support of the ban. It’s a reflection of the shift in attitudes towards fox hunting & the fact it’s now an outdated pastime of a minority.

Going forwards, there are lots of plans to ensure this progress continues! We will of course be applying for a stand at next years Bucks County Show & this time, with a bit of help from other volunteers we’ll have time to put a proper stand together to give us a greater presence. The good news as well is that once you’ve been at the show once, you have a priority place the following year so hopefully it won’t be the same level of challenge it’s been this year. But if it is, that won’t put us off.

A committee of volunteers will be formed & across every region we will be targeting as many county shows as we have the resources to cover to ensure they follow in the footsteps of Bucks County Show in accepting a Pro Ban presence at next years shows. Thank you all so much for all the messages of support, for signing & sharing the petition & for helping me make this happen! This is just the beginning…..❤️ x

NOTE: Katies petition now stands at over 125,000! If you’ve not yet signed it please do so here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/564/084/639/stop-bucks-county-show-from-promoting-fox-hunting/

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26th August 2015

First Beam Of Light To Shine On Showground In 148 Years

Remember that petition to the Bucks County Show asking them not to support illegal hunting? Well, something amazing has happened. Tomorrow near Aylesbury, for the first time in 148 years, a beam of light will be shining on the showground in the name of wildlife protection.

Katie Angus (who started the petition) from Buckinghamshire reminds us and updates this ongoing story…

There’s an old saying that if you want something with all your heart you’ll get it. What I want is an end to animal cruelty in the name of blood sports. Have I got it? Not yet.

What I do have though is a huge step forward. An opportunity to give these animals who are persecuted in the name of propaganda, a voice. A chance to dispel the pro Hunt myths that have been created over the years in an attempt to justify chasing a terrified animal to an unthinkable death of being torn apart by hounds. Can you imagine that being yourself for just one moment? A death of being chased, terrified, until you’re exhausted and then being torn apart by dogs. How can anyone consider this a sport when it’s another animal being killed so barbarically? And in the name of ‘fun’ or ‘entertainment’. To a person capable of empathy it’s unthinkable.

As I have mentioned previously, in a recent poll by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), 8 out of 10 people were opposed to fox hunting across all regions of the UK. Not one region had more Pro Hunt supporters than Pro Ban supporters. Including Buckinghamshire. So whilst I accept that the county show reflects rural life and “the best it has to offer” I find it quite disturbing that this would include the barbaric killing of animals for sport something to be proud of? Surely this isn’t the best it has to offer? Thankfully, the majority would agree with me.

With this in mind, I started the petition to Bucks County Show to challenge their decision to reflect the views of a minority by having the local hunt present at the show, and parading in the main ring! Whilst I knew the issue would generate a good level of support, the rate at which this support grew, from every corner of the globe, was staggering! Over 120,000 people have now shown their support and allowed my one voice to become the voice of hundreds of thousands!

This of course generated a lot of media attention, good and bad, but like they say, no publicity is bad publicity when you have a cause to support! Following several radio interviews I was made an offer. To apply for a stand at the County Show. As a busy working Mum with none of the literature and documentation you’d need for a county show I called upon the League Against Cruel Sports for some guidance and support. They, in turn, applied for a stall on my behalf and were rejected live on BBC Three Counties Radio, with no official explanation. We of course don’t need an explanation. The argument and evidence that the LACS have for the truth behind blood sports is overwhelming and this kind of presence would be unwelcome at a Show who have openly confirmed that they are in support of ‘legal’ country pursuits.

I was then made another offer. To attend the show myself. Just me. No support from a large organisation, or any organisation in fact. Just me, “and one other”. My immediate response was for my safety and I was informed that I will be positioned next to the police tent! Comforting. One of the most surprising responses I encountered publicly from people in support of the hunt was to belittle my concern for my welfare and that of my family. Not that I should be surprised really. If you are able to enjoy chasing a terrified animal to a brutal death it would suggest a severe lack of empathy. With no heart or soul it must be difficult to comprehend why a mother would be concerned for the welfare of her family. But there you are. Speaks volumes really.

However, I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive family who understand how much this cause means to me and how close it is to my heart and they offered their full support in seeing this campaign through. With so much support behind me, refusing the offer was never an option.

So with that in mind I accepted their offer! The LACS hoped they would be able to provide me with a sponsor so I could benefit from the legal cover, etc needed for the show but this was again rejected. They have refused any direct involvement from the LACS.

So, I went back to the drawing board. I completed all the documents required personally and sourced my own public liability insurance. I also paid full price for the stand as wasn’t given the charity rate due to not being an official charity. I now had everything needed to complete my application. Trying to arrange this alongside being a working Mum of a very active toddler, who is of course my number 1 priority, and having my own commitments to fulfil was extremely challenging but with the support of my family and friends, including all of you, my fox family of friends, I was able to overcome each and every wall and today I was given confirmation that my application has been accepted!

A little bit of history has been made today and will be made tomorrow! It’s the first time in the 148 year history of the show that an Anti-Hunting presence has ever been allowed! It’s the first time these animals will have a voice there, albeit a small one in the form of myself and a few friends, but we’ll be there. Dispelling the myths and providing the truth, and offering advice on how we can help and protect our local wildlife! I am immensely proud to have been able to see this through to a result, for all of us, and while the presence of the hunt will still be included, the presence of the anti-hunt will also be there. For the first time ever.

It’s an amazing breakthrough that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of each and every signature and share! Thank you all so much for your continued support and while it might only be me stood there tomorrow, I’ll be stood there for all of us, and I know I’ve got you all behind me! Our presence is a reflection that we’re living in a Pro Ban society, one where animal cruelty is no longer tolerated or wanted, let alone in the name of sport. This is a big step forward and a significant breakthrough. For those we couldn’t save and for those we still can.

Katie x

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24th August 2015

The Fox Hunting Season Has Begun #keeptheban

Hunt riders holding-up maize in Dorset 22.08.15 pic: Dorset Wildlife Protection

A new season of fox hunting begins as soon as the harvest is in sufficiently to afford access to the land. In many parts of the country this means that during August, and certainly from September, hunts are out in force with horses, hounds and four-wheel drive vehicles.

Fox hunting in late summer and autumn is a prelude to the pomp and ceremony of the full season which runs mostly from end Oct/early Nov until March or April. Since the 2004 Hunting Act outlawed fox hunting, participants refer to autumn hunting as ‘hound exercise’. Before then it was known more honestly as ‘cub hunting’ (or ‘cubbing’ for short).

Hunt supporters may claim that what is described below is outdated because hunting is different since the Hunting Act. Actually, most of the evidence we have seen and heard suggests that very little has changed and the law is being widely flouted. Links at the bottom of this piece are evidence of this. Sure, there have been a few cosmetic tweaks which serve to confuse the issue, but the following is as true before the ban as now, ten years after. That’s why Hounds Off and many others are calling for the Hunting Act to be strengthened in ways which mean that foxes (and other abused wild animals) are afforded better protection.

The purpose of this article is to outline what cubbing is, what it looks like and how you can report it if you see it (or hear about it on the grapevine).

WHEN

Cubbing usually starts in the early morning at first light. This means from 6am in mid August, getting later as autumn comes. By mid October 9.30 or 10am is the norm. At the beginning of the day, before the sun is at its full power, hounds are able to smell foxes better. Hounds hunt by scent so are trained to do this at times when conditions are best. In the early season hunts may finish by mid morning or, in late September/October, by mid afternoon.

Evening hunts are popular too. Scent is often good later in the day and an evening ‘meet’ might combine killing foxes with a social occasion (such as a barbecue).

WHY

Cubbing is vital for hunting purposes.

The principle objective is training the hounds. They need to recognise the smell, look and taste of a fox as well as how to hunt as a pack. Dog packs will be large. Many are youngsters trying to make the grade. Some older, experienced hounds will be there too, to teach and lead by example.

Young hounds are best trained by hunting and killing a lot of foxes. Cubbing, especially early in the season, is a brutal and bloody affair (though mostly conducted out of sight).

Here’s what the late 10th Duke of Beaufort wrote in his 1980 David & Charles publication, Fox-Hunting, on pages 68/69 (the late Duke had massive status in the hunting world):

“The object of cub-hunting is to educate both young hounds and fox-cubs. As was said earlier, it is not until he has been hunted that the fox draws fully on his resources of sagacity and cunning so that he is able to provide a really good run….I try to be out cub-hunting as often as possible myself, and the ideal thing is for the Master to be out every day….Never lose sight of the fact that one really well-beaten cub killed fair and square is worth half a dozen fresh ones killed the moment they are found without hounds having to exert themselves in their task. It is essential that hounds should have their blood up and learn to be savage with their fox before he is killed.”

If one or two foxes do escape that’s good from a hunting perspective too. These foxes know to get up and running when hounds are about and are dispersed to all over the place to ensure a reliable spread of animals to chase. Later on, when punters pay a tidy fee for the privilege of ‘riding to hounds’, these are the foxes which are hoped to provide the best sport. Hunts are businesses, after all.

By harvest time this years litter of cubs look like young adults and are still in family units. Huntsmen already know where foxes are living. Farmers and gamekeepers supply this information. Hounds will be taken for training to these places, one by one.

‘HOLDING-UP’

Cubbing in August and September often involves surrounding small woods or rough bits of ground with a ring of people on foot and horseback. This is known as ‘holding-up’. Holding-up may also happen around fields of maize or large-leaved crops such as sugar beet. Families of foxes often reside there because they can creep around freely but safely under cover. Woodland or standing crop, old orchard, bramble thicket or somewhere else, a foxy place is called a ‘covert’ (pronounced with a silent ‘t’).

When hounds are first entered into covert there may be complete silence apart from the occasional toot on hunting horn or odd word of encouragement from the Huntsman. Hounds will be searching, noses down, for the smell of a fox. When one hound gets a whiff he or she will ‘speak’. That means they bark in a particular way. As other hounds find the scent too so the speaking gets louder until all the dogs are ‘on cry’ and their collective noise reaches a crescendo.

At this point the fox is darting around in the undergrowth ahead of the pack, trying to escape. If it pops out from the edge of the covert then the surrounding riders and foot followers will shout, clap and slap their saddles to make a wall of noise to scare the fox back. Even if a fox is not seen, but the sound of hounds speaking is close enough to indicate that the fox is running close to the edge, a wall of noise is created. Hunt supporters help considerably to kill foxes during cubbing.

Sooner or later the fox will be caught and killed, either above ground in the jaws of the hounds or when dug out by men with spades and terriers if it tries to hide down a hole. This happens repeatedly until the whole litter is destroyed. Some brave foxes will beat the wall of noise and get away. These are ‘good’ foxes which are hoped to run far and fast during the winter months.

HORSES & HOUNDS RUNNING CROSS COUNTRY

Cub hunting is not all holding-up. Any place likely to provide foxes is tried; hedgerows, streams, field corners, untidy back gardens, derelict farm buildings, even ivy-clad trees. Short hunting runs may be encouraged by hardly holding-up at all or on side only so that, by October and just before the lucrative full season, hounds are hunting their quarry in the open over decent stretches of ground.

Cub hunting has been illegal since February 2005. We advise always report suspected illegal hunting to the police using 101 (dial 999 if 101 is taking too long, or the suspected crime is in progress). Other people to inform are the League Against Cruel Sports via this link or for immediacy on their wildlife crime hotline 01483 361 108 and the Hunt Saboteurs Association via this link, on social media or phone 0845 2501291. All info received is important and will be recorded for future reference or acted upon immediately.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Cubbing happens August to October on any day of the week except Sunday, usually in the morning but sometimes in the evening after working hours. Meets are often held in farm yards or fields. Groups of riders, hounds and 4×4 vehicles are tell-tale signs.

The occasion and dress code is informal, even scruffy sometimes. Often nobody wears the distinctive red coats known as ‘hunting pink’. So you may see a hunt but not actually realise it because what you witness looks like just random groups of riders or people assembled at odd times in strange places and apparently looking at nothing.

Hounds running close to or across roads would strongly suggest illegal hunting. Nobody in their right mind would risk laying artificial trails in such dangerous places where the risk of accidents is so real.

Look out too for lines of riders spaced apart at regular intervals along country lanes or in fields and woods. They could be holding-up. Listen out for the ‘wall of noise’ made by hunt followers to frighten foxes. Staccato cries of “Aye-aye-aye!” are commonplace alongside whip-cracking. The combined sound is often unearthly. Riders may converge at pace amid a lot of screaming in an effort to force their quarry back towards the hounds.

Hunts make great play of the fact that they only go to where they’ve been invited. So if a hunt is trespassing on forbidden ground or somewhere else unwelcome then there’s little doubt that they’ll be up to no good.

ACTION YOU CAN TAKE

We advise always report suspected illegal hunting to the police using 101 (dial 999 if 101 is taking too long, or the suspected crime is in progress). Other people to inform are the League Against Cruel Sports via this link or for immediacy on their wildlife crime hotline 01483 361 108 and the Hunt Saboteurs Association via this link, on social media or phone 0845 2501291. All info received is important and will be recorded for future reference or acted upon immediately.

Here is evidence of illegal cub hunting which resulted in prosecutions for members of the Meynell and South Staffs Hunt in 2012:
http://www.conservativesagainstfoxhunting.com/2012/08/huntsman-fined-3000-after-being-convicted-of-illegal-fox-cubbing/

Here is an expose of the North Cotswold Hunt apparently feeding and housing foxes in artificial homes then hunting them with hounds during an autumn cub hunt in 2014:
http://www.huntsabs.org.uk/index.php/news/press-releases/549-secret-footage-shows-hunt-feeding-hunting-foxes

On behalf of hunted wildlife, thank you for reading this and for caring.

© Joe Hashman

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10th August 2015

Petition to organisers of Bucks County Show – stop promoting bloodsports

On Thursday 27th August the 148th Bucks County Show takes place near Aylesbury. ‘Attractions’ for visitors include the obligatory parade of hunting dogs. You’d be forgiven for thinking that in 2015 such a spectacle was a thing of the past but it seems not. Hunters and Show organisers would no doubt claim that they operate within the law. We question that. Time and time again the false alibi of ‘trail hunting’ has been proven to be a cynical ploy to circumvent the Hunting Act.

Many folks turn a blind eye to such things. Others take action. One such person is Buckinghamshire resident Katie Angus. She has started a petition asking the Show organisers to stop giving support to illegal hunting and we’re happy to share a link to her petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/564/084/639/stop-bucks-county-show-from-promoting-fox-hunting/

Look out for reports in local newspapers such as the Bucks Herald. The LUSH store in High Wycombe will be sharing the petition on their social media platforms!

Katie contacted Hounds Off asking us to support her efforts. We asked Katie to write some words for us to use for raising awareness about her petition and the reasons why she started it. This she did:

What is a County Show? A family event filled with traditional fun and a sense of community? An opportunity to support local businesses and feel proud to be part of a more rural way of life?

What is fox hunting? A cruel, barbaric ‘pastime’ of a minority who find sick gratification in chasing a terrified animal to a torturous death!

So where I ask is the reasoning behind local fox hunts and beagles (hare hunts) being invited to parade in the main ring of the Bucks County Show? A direct promotion of the hunt and it’s vile ‘values’ that are statistically proven to provide no benefit to country life.

The UK fox population is stable and has been for the past decade, both in rural and urban areas. There is no overpopulation of foxes.

Foxes help to manage the rabbit and vole populations which has a significant economic benefit for farmers.

According to Defra, 95% of lamb losses are due to farm husbandry practices and, in a study conducted on  two Scottish hill farms, just 1% of lamb losses could confidently be attributed to fox predation. Just 1%!!

What justification is left? Tradition and sport??

Have we not evolved enough as a species that we no longer need to hunt and barbarically kill wild mammals for amusement?

Does anybody seriously consider it acceptable to drive terrified animals from their homes for sick entertainment by an out of touch minority with no conscience or heart?

66% of the British public are supporters of foxes, across every region in the UK! Every region has significantly more people in favour of the hunting ban than in favour of fox hunting.

So why do the organisers of Bucks County Show believe they’re providing Bucks residents, and those who travel from surrounding counties, with the kind of entertainment they want to see?

The truth is they don’t care what the majority of us want to see. The show serves to support their own outdated beliefs and provides a platform for them to promote their barbaric, depraved enjoyment to the public in advance of the continued attempts to repeal the Hunting Act.

Something so politically emotive and subjective should not be forced on the majority of the public who want to see an end to this barbaric ‘sport’.

This is the reason that I began a petition, after being dismissed with a generic email response and no explanation at all from the organisers as to why they feel it justified to invite the local hunt to a family event, meaning I wouldn’t take my own family if they paid me to!

It’s time Bucks County Show brought tradition in line with a changing society. One where the public do not consider animal torture as a sport or as entertainment! One where animal welfare matters and this outdated, terrible ‘tradition’ no longer has a place!

Please make your views known by signing the petition for the change that’s so desperately needed and help us to be the voice of the voiceless. Thanks so much in advance.

Katie Angus

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/564/084/639/stop-bucks-county-show-from-promoting-fox-hunting/

©  Joe Hashman

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24th July 2015

Who Do You Believe? #keeptheban

Photo courtesy IFAW

Re: The proposed Hunting Act 2004 (Exempt Hunting) (Amendment) Order 2015, by Statutory Instrument

We think many MPs were aware, had the above (Amendment) Order been passed using an inappropriate parliamentary process, that the Hunting Act would effectively be a dead law. Being complicit in deceiving colleagues either satisfied their own personal leisure preferences, or those of others who helped them to power. We also realise that many MPs do not know much about about hunting with hounds and/or are vulnerable to peer pressure, especially if newly elected.

In English Foxes, James Gray MP (Conservative, North Wiltshire) blogged his take on recent events in his online Weekly Column. We have no problem with him voicing his opinion but we do feel that disingenuous statements must be countered. Two lines in particular caught our attention.

1. The Government was proposing a very modest little Statutory Instrument

Official documents are heavy to read, so we’ve simplified these for all to see and (hopefully) understand. The Statutory Instrument proposed five crippling amendments:

a/ Allowing an unlimited number of dogs to be used to flush wild mammals out of woods and similar places in front of people armed with guns to shoot them (rather than two, as the law currently allows).

b/ Extending the circumstances where Hunting Act exemptions permit dogs to be used underground to hunt wild mammals (so-called ‘terrier work’).

c/ Removing the need for those engaged in terrier work to carry written permission from the landowner with them whilst so engaged.

d/ Broadening exemptions to include permitting hunting of wild mammals which the hunter “believes” may be diseased; surely a gift for any defence lawyer.

e/ Permitting an unlimited number of dogs to be employed in chasing wild mammals for the purposes of “Research and Observation”. Hunting by definition requires that quarry species are observed by someone and this amendment, alongside any pseudo-scientific research that might be invented in conjunction, would open the floodgates to hunting with hounds as practiced before the Hunting Act came into force. We all know how certain nations twist R&O to fit their whale hunting bent.

2. All it effectively did was correct an anomaly and bring the practice in England more in line with that in Scotland

A lot of Government propaganda since the amendments were pulled has centred on assassinating the SNP for interfering with a law which does not affect them. This is disingenuous on two fronts.

Firstly, wild mammals do not recognise national boundaries and in the Borders may be hunted from England into Scotland, and back.

Second, the Scottish equivalent of the Hunting Act is widely acknowledged as being the weaker of the two and very difficult to enforce. So after ten years of cynical subterfuge, false alibis, much criticism but hundreds of successful prosecutions we suggest it’s no wonder that hunting apologists want to weaken English & Welsh law under the guise of becoming more like Scotland! In fact, as we hope you can see, if the amendments had been carried then in reality the Hunting Act would’ve been effectively destroyed from an enforcement perspective. This is why we (and others) have called this an attempt at “repeal by the back door.”

Footnotes

1. Recent Government figures show that in ten years there have been 590 prosecutions under the Hunting Act, with a success rate of 64%. By comparison, Scottish hunting legislation has had 210 prosecutions in thirteen years with a success rate of 35%. There have been no successful prosecutions of registered hunts in Scotland.

2. Interestingly, no mention was made of parity of penalties. Probably because in Scotland you can go to prison for 6 months whereas in England & Wales the worst punishment is a low fine.

3. A commitment to fully review the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 has been given by the SNP in light of recent events.

4. The Government would have lost that vote without any intervention by the SNP. It’s only certain media outlets who made it look as if the SNP stopped the castration of the Hunting Act.

© Joe Hashman

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14th July 2015

Our Roar Of Disapproval #keeptheban

Team Fox gathers outside Parlaiment to roar disapproval at attempted creeping repeal of the Hunting Act 2004

Parliamentary plans to weaken the Hunting Act have been seen off – for now. Our collective roar of disapproval has been heard, loud and clear.

The means by which crippling amendments to the Hunting Act were intended to be slipped through is called a Statutory Instrument (SIs), which allows for quick and easy alterations to existing legislation. The SIs was was pulled today, twenty-four hours before MPs were due to vote, and pulled without a shadow of doubt because an irresistible coalition was built which consisted of MPs from across political parties and the Home Nations who were committed to defeating bloodsports enthusiasts on this issue.

In the first instance, respect and thanks to all those MPs and those who lobbied them; everybody who wrote, talked, tweeted, retweeted, shared, liked, favourited, pinned, posted, demonstrated, reported, advertised, sang, shouted and dreamed about defeating these amendments and the dark forces behind them. If those dark forces within and outside of Parliament thought they could undermine the Hunting Act (and democracy) quietly, unnoticed and with little resistance, they were spectacularly wrong.

Arguably, after our monumental efforts we would be in a better position if there had been a 90-minute debate then vote. Everything indicated that we would have won handsomely. The bloodsports lobby know this too, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they lost their nerve and decided to move the goalposts.

To most decent-minded folk it might seem strange that there are some people and associations whose sole mission in life seems to be to make hunting with hounds legal again, but sadly this is the case. What happens next is uncertain. Doubtless they will dust themselves down, regroup, plot and try another way.

So, foxy lover, be ready for anything. Stay informed and keen. Hounds Off, and others, will keep you fully up to speed via mail-outs, e-alerts or (in our case) blogs and social media. But for a moment, as you rest and take stock, reflect on the fact that within the space of seven days the latest bloodthirsty intentions of hunters were scuppered. Through wholly peaceful means, we have sent dark forces into retreat.

Hounds Off is proud to be part of Team Fox, which is itself a coalition of animal welfare organisations from across the political and campaigning spectrum who are united in their wish to see the Hunting Act reinforced not repealed. These organisations comprise the staff, volunteers, members and supporters who make impossible things possible. That’s what Team Fox is –  people like you and me; decent, compassionate individuals who have the collective energy to move mountains.

© Joe Hashman

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13th July 2015

The Year Of The Sheep (revisited) #keeptheban

In between cutting his first courgettes and tending the sheep, our Hounds Off poet-in-residence Mick Spreader has been pondering on the latest cynical attempts at creeping repeal of the Hunting Act. He wrote the following especially for SNP MPs, hoping they’ll see that we’re the same side in our opposition to David Cameron’s furthering the narrow interests of “Privilege” and that they’ll vote accordingly.

THE YEAR OF THE SHEEP revisited

At night they came with torch and noise
men mounted all on horse.
They drove you from your Highland croft
by brutal use of force.
Ancestral homes put to the torch
lit up the darkness deep
That year they cleared you off your land
is called “Year of the Sheep”.

And into towns they drove you
or forced to emigrate
You shipped off to a distant land
to an uncertain fate.
No longer did your homeland ring
with gaelic voice or pipe
The only sound that could be heard
– the bleating of the sheep.

Though,
In England it was different
the result was much the same
“Privilege” stole our common land
and did so without shame.
The choices for the labouring man,
when they were narrowed down, were,
Stay upon the land and starve
or slave away in town.

And so, my Scottish brother,
the enemy’s the same.
He’s endured all down the ages
and “Privilege” is his name.
Again he rears his monstrous head
his foul intentions plain
Send Cameron’s red-coat “Privilege” mates
“hameward to think again.”

© Mick Spreader
12 July 2015

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12th July 2015

An Open Letter To SNP MPs

Dear SNP MP,

I write regarding the Hunting Act 2004 amendments which are being voted upon in the Commons on Weds 15 July 2015:

Please vote against them. I’m aware that it has been said that these amendments simply bring English & Welsh legislation in line with your Scottish equivalent, The Protection Of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. I’m also aware that by pitching the amendments this way, pro-bloodsport Tories seek to compromise you and your SNP colleagues by claiming that voting against them would be hypocritical. This is not true. Actually, they need you to abstain in order to push their amendments through.

There are many details within the amendments which, if passed, will make the English & Welsh Hunting Act far weaker than its Scottish counterpart. For example, hunting wild mammals with a full pack of hounds will be exempt if conducted under the guise of “research and observation”. Laws which control the use of terriers to dig out quarry which has found sanctuary underground will be relaxed. Also, the amendments being put forward to MPs refer to all “mammals”, not just foxes as your 2002 Act does.

We all know that these amendments are a cynical and calculated attempt at creeping repeal which has been a long time in plotting. However, you cannot be accused rightly or wrongly of hypocrisy if you vote against because what you’re voting on is beyond comparison with the laws you have at home.

So please, please, please do the right thing. Attend the House of Commons on July 15. Vote against the Hunting Act amendments. Earn massive thanks and respect from us lot down here and join forces with the vast majority of English and Welsh people who believe in compassion not cruelty.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Hashman

Hounds Off
P.O. Box 162
Shaftesbury
Dorset
SP7 7AZ

www.houndsoff.co.uk

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10th July 2015

Dishonest Intentions #keeptheban

A fox is killed in Somerset, pre-ban

Nobody of a reasonable disposition can be in any doubt about the motives behind government moves to amend the Hunting Act so as to allow unlimited numbers of hounds to ‘flush foxes to guns’. Why? Well, because in practically every debate about foxhunting as pest control for over ten years now we’ve been told, by the hunters themselves, that shooting equals inevitable wounding and consequent suffering. We’ve been consistently fed the line that shooting foxes is cruel while being torn apart by dogs is humane. Yet now MPs are being presented with, and encouraged to vote for, an amendment which they say will make shooting foxes easier.

Without a clear majority of pro hunt MPs to be certain of success if outright repeal was tabled, motives behind the proposed Hunting Act amendments are to cynically subvert legislation which needs strengthening not weakening.

From the beginning of their hunting careers, bloodsports participants are told to disassociate with the quarry and connect with hounds instead. As children, hunt-related activities which are far removed from the realities of killing for fun are designed to convert young hearts and minds.

Hunting fox, deer, hare and mink (formerly badgers and otters too) with hounds are bloodsports which depend on people who take part developing blind spots to cruelty in their minds and an indifference to animal suffering in the recess of their hearts. Slowly slowly they’re converted to a place where they actually enjoy it so much that they’ll do and say whatever needs to be done or said to justify this animal abuse to themselves and those they seek to persuade.

Doubtless in other walks of life your average hunt supporter is a half decent individual. Alas, when it comes to defending the leisure activity of foxhunting they will do and say whatever it takes to circumvent any opposition.

Please contact your MP as a matter of urgency. Point out the hypocrisy of the amendments in terms of animal welfare and that if they vote for them on July 15 they’re either being complicit in the ongoing lie or duped by others who’s intentions are wholly dishonest.

Joe Hashman, July 10th 2015

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10th July 2015

How To Contact Your MP – And Why #keeptheban

Now’s the time to write to your MP. If you’ve not done this before don’t worry – it’s really easy. We will help you here.

1. Firstly, click on this link: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Type your post code into the green box then tap or click the ‘Go’ button. This will take you straight to the Contact page for your MP with options to write a letter, email or phone plus social media details.

2. To email, just tap or click their email address and then it’s like sending a normal email.

Here’s what I said to mine:

Dear “Name Of MP”,

Regarding amendments to the Hunting Act which will be put to the Commons on July 15; I am urging you to represent my views (and the view of many others) on this occasion by voting against the amendments.

I hope that you are savvy enough to realise that in truth the proposed changes will completely undermine the Hunting Act. They are being sold to MPs as being in the interests of ‘pest control’ but in actual fact they are being brought forward as an alternative to full repeal of the Hunting Act. This was the preferred option of your Government but numbers are such that it could not be guaranteed so what we have is effectively repeal ‘by the back door’.

Please attend on July 15 and vote against the Hunting Act amendments.

Yours sincerely…

3. Please also write an old-fashioned letter by post!

Just make sure you do it in time to arrive before the vote takes place on Wednesday July 15. Polite, concise and from your heart is good!

Don’t underestimate the power of contacting your MP, whoever they are.

If you know they’re wise enough to have clocked that foxhunting with hounds is not a pest control service but actually a form of entertainment which abuses animals, remind them that this is not enough – they need to attend and vote.

If you know they support hunting then ask them to change their minds or, if that’s a step too far, to put aside personal prejudice and represent your views on this occasion.

If they’re undecided, they need to be enlightened to the fact that pro hunting forces within and outside of government are playing political games to get their way and conning MPs with cynical subterfuge.

The real question is to your MP is this: are you compassionate, complicit or being duped? Use your own words and always keep them polite!

© Joe Hashman, July 10th 2015

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