4th November 2019
I always know when the Kimblewick Hunt is here before I see them. There’s an air of menace about and clues come from nervous wild animals I always see behaving differently to usual on hunt days. Clues build up during the morning; distant shouts, yakking, whooping, horn tooting and often the wail of hounds on cry shattering the usual peace of the countryside.
Quad bikes buzz across fields in the distance and there are more cars about, often driving in a procession, parked on verges and frequently blocking lanes as the small band of followers clamour to find the hunt.
If you’re unlucky you’ll see hounds streaming all over your garden – as happened to me – or running across roads (including A roads, on blind bends) or careering after panicked foxes, deer or hares. Although the Kimblewick’s primary target is foxes – as demonstrated by the recent conviction, I’ve witnessed them chasing all the aforementioned animals, often whilst trespassing on land that is forbidden to them. Some people might think that country residents support the Hunt and like to see them descend en masse: a spectacle, pageantry, tradition. The reality here is very different. I, and many other country residents, feel instead a sense of doom, dread and threat.
The Kimblewick is notoriously secretive. Local residents are not informed of their plans. Indeed, ask the farms and estates who continue to host them and I predict you’ll experience the same secrecy I do: “We will endeavour to let you know… we’re not sure when they’re coming… you’ll have to ask them yourself…” Odd, given that a spread is generally laid on for hunts and dates booked well in advance but nobody wants to reveal it. The host may let you know if you’re persistent (after all, should your pets be killed or another accident befall you, hiding that information won’t reflect well on them should it reach the press or social media) but it’ll be at the last possible moment, normally mere hours before they turn up. Could it be that the hunting community has something to hide?
It certainly seems so. Two members of the Kimblewick Hunt, Mark Vincent (their President, no less) and employee Ian Parkinson were convicted of animal cruelty last week after being filmed pulling a fox trapped in an artificial earth out by its tail before sending hounds after it on New Years Day. The huntsman can clearly be heard on the footage shouting ‘hold hard’-a hunting command which stops and holds hounds until they are released at the chosen moment (a good chase before the kill obviously being the objective; a quick kill is no fun).
The footage is sickening and has shown the rest of the country what most of us who live in the Kimblewick hunt’s country already know: so-called ‘trail hunting’ really entails hunting foxes as before the ban. Yet only two men have been convicted when it’s quite clear that this illegal act was committed as a joint venture amongst all present that day and was obviously planned.
Many landowners and residents object to the hunt, but many are also unwilling to openly protest. Hunt intimidation and influence is real, and the easiest option is to keep your head down and put up with it. Privately though, the talk is overwhelmingly negative when the issue comes up among friends and neighbours. One of my friends owns a retired horse who is partially sighted. The Kimblewick hounds have run through this disabled horse’s field on more than one occasion, causing significant distress to both horse and owner.
Living in the Kimblewick country can be an unpleasant experience. I have witnessed and reported their illegal hunting to Thames Valley police on several occasions but they failed to attend each time – including when Kimblewick terriermen blocked and threatened us on a public byway for daring to be out in my own local area when they were. Reasonable people have no desire to impose their will on others but hunting crosses the line of acceptability. It’s not only illegal, cruel and unnecessary, it poses a direct threats to pets, farm and wild animals. The sense of vulnerability and helplessness many of us feel is very real, as is the carnage we see on hunt days – not to mention the disease risk the Kimblewick failed to tell any of us about (97 hounds infected with bTB were shot at their kennels in 2017).
This case has proven the Kimblewick Hunt is engaging in organised wildlife crime. I appeal to everyone who hosts and facilitates the Kimblewick to withdraw. The Kimblewick should now disband, exactly as the disgraceful South Herefordshire hunt did after being filmed similarly throwing foxes to hounds. No farm, business or landowner can afford to be associated with such scandalous, despicable, illegal animal abuse.
© A Rural Resident From The Home Counties