Home > Beagling > Spot The Difference

6th October 2018

Spot The Difference

Top: 'The First Essential Towards Sport' by Tom Ilvester Lloyd (1873-1942). Bottom: Ilminster Beagles from Bineham City Farm, near Ilchester, Somerset, 29 September 2018.

You could be forgiven for wondering why the Ilminster Beagles are not getting done for illegal hunting because film of them finding and chasing hares on 29 September 2018 is quite clear. The problem is that hunters have found cunning ways to avoid the law and one of their dishonest excuses is to cry “Accident!”

What the film of hare hunting near Langport, Somerset shows is the beagle pack searching for, finding and pursuing a hare. The dogs are sniffing around seeking the scent of their quarry when suddenly the hare jumps up from right under their noses and sprints away as the beagles start barking excitedly and giving chase.

This is exactly how many hare hunts started before the Hunting Act came in to force in 2005 so why are they not liable? Well, there is a subtle difference which provides an excuse that gets them off the hook. Read on.

Look at the pictures at the head of this blog. Toppermost is a painting by avid sporting artist Tom Ilvester Lloyd (1873-1942). It portrays “the find”, that moment when a hare springs up literally in front of hounds and the hunt begins. Ilvester Lloyd entitled his work The First Essential Towards Sport which says it all, really.

Now look at the grab below, taken from film of the Ilminster Beagles on 29 September 2018. This also captures the precise second when a hare is found and forced to make a run for it. It’s a post-ban, real-life version of The First Essential Towards Sport.

The reason why the Hunting Act cannot be enforced on the Ilminster Beagles is because in the evidence there are no humans in shot and therefore the Huntsman can claim that hunting of the hare took place by accident. Alas, thanks to a fundamental desire to circumvent the law and some unfathomable decisions in the Courts, crying “Accident!” is a get-out-of-jail card which hunters up and down the country are playing every time they go out.

Interestingly, when the hunted hare runs close to roe deer and the Ilminster Beagles switch to following them, hunt staff are close enough to be able to stop them and prevent a riot.

It’s a shame that the police are so under-resourced. A little targeted training would help them understand why and how huntsmen and women across the land are cocking a snook at them (and us) and go a long way to preventing wildlife crime in the first place.

Illegal hunting by the Ilminster Beagles on 29 September 2018 was reported to Avon & Somerset Police and is recorded with the following Incident Number: AS-20180929-0304.



IF YOU SEE BEAGLING phone the police on 101 or 999. Make sure that they record your call and give you an Incident Number.

IF YOU HEAR ABOUT BEAGLING tell us! All information is treated in confidence.

© Joe Hashman



Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Share this page:

3 Comments | Leave a comment

  • Alan Kirby says:
    Posted October 06, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    You’re quite right about the near universal success of the ‘accident’ defence, Joe. This is due to the inadequate wording of the Hunting Act and, in particular, the absence of a ‘reckless’ clause. In this case ‘accident’ might cover hounds starting to chase the hare, but not why they were allowed to chase the hare for a protracted period when the Huntsman and Whip were clearly nearby. The get out here would be the little acknowledged fact that the Hunting Act places no obligation on hunters to call hounds off once a chase has started. So long as they do not themselves ‘engage or participate’ in that chase they are not breaking the law. There is a point when a doubled horn call is heard – usually the signal for ‘hunt on’. This could be pointed to as ‘engaging’ on the Huntsman’s part, but there’s no visual evidence that it was him that made the call – or he could claim that call is used by him for some other reason. There are so many weaknesses in the Act, so many potential get outs, that POWA believes it needs belt-and-braces amendment, not just the two or three changes some suggest. Our best attempt at what is needed, thought about by us since before the ink was dry on the Act, can be found at http://www.powa.org.uk/id88.html. .

    Reply to this comment >
  • Terry Dite says:
    Posted October 06, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    The police are ONLY under resourced when it comes to crime fighting and protecting the public, the job they are primarily employed to do. When it comes to supporting the barbaric hunt fraternity to defy the law, they are NOT under resourced in any way. There is ample visual evidence on camera to confirm that multiple police resources are made readily available when the hunt calls for ‘help’ to clear the area of unarmed sabs and monitors. Numerous police, several police vehicles and the occasional helicopter are ALWAYS ‘ready for action’.

    Reply to this comment >
  • Marta Falco says:
    Posted October 06, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    the problem is that although they are technically breaking the law, the powers that be don’t care. I expect many have never seen hares.
    its popular in Ireland in stadiums where pre caught hares are set up for 2 muzzled greyhounds. people know that . its awful, so cruel and , again , the people are totally insensitve towards the beauty of hares.

    Reply to this comment >

Leave a comment: