Leaked Footage Exposes Trail Hunting as ‘Smokescreen’ for Killing Foxes
In leaked recordings of a webinar hosted by the hunting lobby made public last week, senior lobby figures – including Lord Mancroft – discuss how to circumvent the law in order to chase and kill foxes. Hunters appear to have been recorded giving guidance on making illegal fox hunting less obvious to observers and authorities – and seemingly admitting that trail hunting is a “smokescreen” for fox hunting, as many animal advocates have long known or suspected.
— ITV News (@itvnews) November 24, 2020
The Trail Hunting ‘Smokescreen’
In 2004, the UK passed the Hunting Act, making fox hunting with dogs illegal. As a result, hunters created an activity known as trail hunting. Since it’s against the law to chase a fox, the hunters spray a cloth with an artificial scent and drag it near foxes’ habitat. If the dogs, while following the artificial scent, encounter, chase, and kill a fox, the hunters can claim it was an accident and therefore escape punishment. Often, they deliberately conduct trail hunts in ways that make it very likely such “accidents” will occur. Now, the leaked footage seems to reveal that the hunt sometimes doesn’t even lay a scent trail, further demonstrating that trail hunting is a con.
A Violent Pastime
Fox hunting is a violent pastime engaged in by a small minority. During a hunt, hounds catch the scent of a fox and track the animal through the woods as hunters on horseback follow behind. When the hounds spot the fox, they give chase, often pursuing the animal for miles. Exhausted, the fox often meets a bloody and violent end when he or she is ripped apart by the hounds, to the apparent amusement of the hunters. A study of foxes killed by hounds found that the foxes died of profound trauma inflicted by multiple bites and, in many cases, were disembowelled while still alive.
Foxes aren’t the only ones who are terrorised by hunters. The hunts often find themselves in and around towns, resulting in further tragedies. Trained to chase and kill small animals, hounds have been known to attack companion animals – a 7-month-old kitten named Tiger was ripped apart by hounds earlier this year. The hounds themselves are commonly mistreated, too, and have been known to get tangled in painful barbed-wire fences as the hunt runs through the countryside or be struck by vehicles as it passes alongside busy roads.
We must close the trail hunting loophole to achieve the original intention of the Hunting Act: protecting foxes from extreme cruelty. Please ask your MP to call for the legislation to be strengthened to make it harder for people to circumvent the law.
Hunting is cruel in all its forms. Right now, British trophy hunters are trying to import animal body parts – including the heads and skins of endangered animals – into the UK from hunts they took part in abroad. By preventing them from bringing back their sick souvenirs, we can deter them from going in the first place.
Call on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban all hunting trophy imports immediately: