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15th March 2019

Somerset Churchyard Fox Hunt Excuses Rebutted

On 23.02.19 the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt were forced to call their hounds off a lactating vixen in a Somerset churchyard by Monitors who were at the scene. Responsibility for disturbing and hunting the fox rests completely with the hunters. © Somerset Wildlife Crime/Hounds Off

Regarding the recent incident involving the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt chasing a lactating vixen in a Somerset churchyard, a member of the public contacted the Hunt and asked them to explain why they were hunting a fox when foxhunting is illegal. She received the email we reproduce, below:

From: B&SV Secretary <bsvsecretary@XXXXXXXXX>
Sent: Fri, 8 Mar 2019 19:10
Subject: Re: Recent footage of vixen being chased in graveyard


Thank you for your email.  The Blackmore and Sparkford Vale is committed to hunting within the law and does so through laying trails by people on horseback, on foot and on quad bikes. Occasionally as we progress through the countryside foxes and deer jump out in front of the hounds and if they deviate from the laid trail then we stop them at the earliest moment. We also have to contend with a number of anti-hunting activists watching us and trying to intimidate. Their tactics employed include spraying other scent on the ground, blowing horns and shouting to distract our hounds, which in turn confuses our hounds and renders our ability to control them that much more challenging. We believe that the film taken is not genuine and is deliberately constructed to discredit us, however clearly we would not normally be hunting anywhere near a graveyard and regret that the actions by the anti-hunting activists caused some hounds to go through the church grounds.

Kevin Hill (tel: 07971 633182) was one of the Hounds Off/Somerset Wildlife Crime team who witnessed and filmed the Charlton Horethorn incident. Kevin is one of the most experienced Hunt Monitors in the country with nearly 40 years under his belt. We asked him to comment on the excuses made by the Hunt:

  • As demonstrated in the video from the Charleton Horethorne churchyard, Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt staff seem to exercise selective control over their hounds. They can control hounds very effectively when it suits them.
  • Monitors present witnessed the hounds being hunted on to a fox under the supervision of hunt staff. There were no attempts to draw them out of the cemetery or away from the fox which was clearly visible and holloa’d by several hunters and supporters.
  • Hunt staff only exercised adequate control over their hounds when asked by one of the Monitors present to call them off the hunted vixen. When faced with two video cameras the Whipper-In (second in command to the Huntsman) was left with little choice but to comply. This proved to be the vital moment that saved the vixens life.
  • We do not accept that the presence of any anti hunt Monitors would prevent hounds from being controlled efficiently. This is especially true when hounds are in close proximity to the Huntsman or Whipper-In, as was the case in this incident.
  • No hunt saboteurs were present in the cemetery or immediate area on the 23rd February, when this incident happened.
  • Footage is available that shows the Monitors present made no attempt to disrupt hounds with any calls, voice or horn and no scent dulling sprays were utilised. Claims to the contrary are merely an attempt by the hunt to dilute the validity of any allegations against them.
  • We invite the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale to comment in detail as to exactly what the allegations laid against the Monitors who were present are. We would be most interested to see any footage to support any claims that hounds were called into the cemetery.
  • As Monitors we maintain a passive presence with the hunt throughout the day and film proceedings. This can be useful on an evidential basis of any trespass or illegal hunting. As proven on the 23rd February in Charlton Horethorne, filming can often serve to save life when the hounds would otherwise be permitted to continue hunting unhindered. Our footage is available to be viewed here. It is worth noting that a member of hunt staff in a red coat is seen observing the hounds in the cemetery from the road side and makes no efforts to call them out.

Read our original Press Release here.

Footage of the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt chasing a fox at Folke Church in Dorset on 22.12.18 can be viewed here.

Hounds Off/Somerset Wildlife Crime, without prejudice

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5 Comments | Leave a comment

  • Joan bowkett says:
    Posted March 16, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I’m sick of the hunt killing our wildlife it’s been illegal since 2004 but they think they are above the law all hunting should be banned completely it the only way.

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  • Irene Wojciechowski says:
    Posted March 16, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    It’s time these lawbreakers were brought to justice, I feel and I certainly hope the tide is turning against them and they are finding it more difficult for their lies to be accepted. They frequently use their mounts to charge at and intimidate the sabs and often their whips as well. The law needs to be strengthened. Local police and councils should be aware of where and when trails are going to be laid so they cannot justify stepping outside of this. 84% of the country including villagers and farmers want this diabolical pursuit ended once and for all and those who persist in breaking the law be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law of the land. Another recent incident of hounds mauling a lamb has been videoed, unfortunately the farmer herself is a huntswoman so probably has not complained. These people, in my opinion, are subhuman.

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  • Amanda Pugh says:
    Posted March 17, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I have personally encountered this hunt trespassing on my land and my neighbours actively chasing foxes with hounds worrying pregnant ewes and out of control running amok in my garden in persuit of anything .
    They were reported to the Dorset wildlife crime officer . And I wrote to them twice to tell them I would use an injunction . I have now moved from the area .

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  • marta Falco Ainley says:
    Posted March 17, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Those of us who watch hunts out killing and chasing and terrorising our wildlife, we know exactly how much they do not stick to the Anti HUnting Laws. They do not TRAIL HUNT. The police side with the Hunts or remain uninterested in enforcing the Law and are prepared to even break the law in their words towards Hunt Saboteurs and Monitors.. On this occasion, a precious vixen , clearly with cubs somewhere, as it was easy to see she was lactating, is saved. Until we rid ourselves of this truly awful Tory government and get one that is prepared to enforce animal welfare laws and strengthen the anti hunting ones and get police who work for us all, the fact that some foxes, some deer, some badgers are saved, is thanks to the many who Monitor and Sab Hunts all over the UK. I personally send them all bundles of love and support. the more villagers who create village groups against the Hunts, the better.

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  • Anelle Minnaar says:
    Posted May 06, 2019 at 6:05 pm


    Many thanks to Kevin Hill, for his bravery
    to monitor, and expose this gruesome

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