Archive for October, 2009

Rearing of pheasant and partridge

2361An east-Midlands MP, David Taylor, has laid an Early Day Motion (EDM) before Parliament calling for a ban on the rearing of birds for shooting (read the full EDM here) in a similar move to that passed by the Dutch parliament in 2002. Thus far, the EDM has attracted the support of almost 70 MPs.

As one would expect, both the Countryside Alliance and the Daily Telegraph – house journal for everyone interested in killing for fun – are furious that anyone should attempt to curb their enthusiasm for another bloodsport. In the Alliance’s weekly newsletter, their Chief Executive Simon Hart fires a broadside at those in the shooting community who claim there is no political threat to their sport. Given that this EDM was tabled in June, his fury has taken some time to develop.

Earlier this year, the League found itself in an interesting position as part of Defra’s working group on game birds. We found that we were in agreement with the British Association for Shooting & Conservation, who agreed with us that the battery cages used for rearing game birds – they are so small as to be illegal for rearing poultry – should be outlawed. The League and BASC found themselves in disagreement with the Countryside Alliance who think it acceptable for such cruelty to continue.

There are a great deal of MPs of all parties who support the shooting industry. But then, there used to be a majority who supported hunting. We are working hard to demonstrate the cruelty inherent in the shooting industry and will not stop until this cruel sport is outlawed completely. We would encourage all supporters to contact their MP and ask them to sign EDM 1684.

Incidentally, we find it bizarre that Mr Hart finds it “extremely disturbing” that 10% of the House of Commons will sign a motion against shooting, but isn’t disturbed at all that a majority of the House – and the vast majority of the public – want to see the Hunting Act retained.

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League welcomes new guidance on policing the Hunting Act

The League Against Cruel Sports has today welcomed the publication of the ‘Hunting Act Investigators Manual’ by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive of the League, said: “We welcome the new manual as an enormous step forward in policing of the Hunting Act. The manual makes it very clear that the police have a duty to enforce the law and through our legal team we will continue to work with police forces up and down the country to collect evidence of illegal hunting and bring offenders to justice.”

The League Against Cruel Sports together with other organisations including those who support hunting, worked with ACPO on the development of the new manual.

The introduction to the manual states that whilst there have been criticisms of the Hunting Act, it is “the law of the land and the police are under a duty to enforce it whilst taking full account of other priorities”. The manual goes on to say that police will work with organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports and Hunt Observers working on our behalf.

“We fully recognise that hunting will never be a police priority, but we are hugely encouraged by the recognition in this manual of the important work undertaken by our Hunt Observers,” said Mr Batchelor. “Observers operate under a strict code of conduct and are trained by our police liaison officer, himself a retired police officer.”

The manual can be downloaded here.

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The hunters’ desperate hypocrisy

fox on horseAs the traditional fox hunting season gets underway this weekend, the League has challenged what it says is the “desperate hypocrisy” of the hunting community.

“The hunters are telling us on the one hand that hunting is more popular than ever, and yet on the other are calling for the Hunting Act to be repealed,” said the Chief Executive of the League, Douglas Batchelor. “If hunting is now so popular, why on earth would you bring back the cruelty? Their hypocrisy is desperate!”

Polling by Ipsos-MORI last month showed that support for the hunting ban had increased since last year, with 85% of the public supporting the ban on hare hunting and 75% supporting the ban on fox hunting. 71% of people in rural communities support the ban.

The League Against Cruel Sports employs a former police officer to train and advise Hunt Observers who attend hunts and film their activities openly and under cover.

“Our Hunt Observers have undergone further training this year and have been provided with high-tech equipment to enable them to collect quality evidence that we can then pass to the police,” said Mr Batchelor. “We are absolutely determined that we will see a dramatic increase in prosecutions this season, and hunters should be very aware that we will stop at nothing to bring them to justice.”

Click here for more information on our hunting campaign, and here for Keep Cruelty History.

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“Autumn Hunting”

The lovely Octavia Pollock gushes about her lovely day out ‘Autumn Hunting’ with the Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray Hunt in a piece for the Country Life website.

terrierman with cub remains2 croppedLest anyone should have forgotten what ‘autumn hunting’ really is, let us remind you. It’s cub hunting. The hunting of fox cubs by hunts who want to train their young hounds how to kill. When the hunters realised how publicly unpalatable such awful activities are, they renamed it ‘hound training’, and then ‘autumn hunting’, presumably to invoke images of majestic horses trampling on conkers rather than baby foxes being torn apart.

The League is helping to promote a new film to be previewed at the House of Commons next month. It’s pretty hush hush for now, but in one very interesting scene, a man attending a party conference last month was asked why the hunters call it autumn hunting rather than cub hunting. He replied that it was called autumn hunting “to stop people like you [the film-maker] getting all upset about it”.

We’re not suggesting that the lovely Octavia or the CL&C have been engaged in illegal cub hunting, though. We assume – and we’re sure they’d be quick to confirm – that they hunt within the law; a fine example of the law working. We’re just reminding readers of cub hunting because it’s just another form of cruelty that would return following a repeal of the Hunting Act.

Keep Cruelty History.

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The truth about snaring

A former member of our press team, Marcus Papadopoulos, writes for Religious Intelligence:

Taking a stroll in the countryside with your partner, children and dogs is as relaxing as sitting down on a Saturday night with a glass of wine watching the latest movie blockbuster. Read on…

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Discrediting hunting

huntingactEvery day, our postbag includes various gems of intelligence sent to us by supporters up and down the country. Much of this is very helpful to our Operations Team, as it enables them to focus the work of our Hunt Observers much more effectively.

Today we’ve had a wonderful newsletter from a hunt in the north of England. Much of it is of no interest, save for this wonderful piece on repeal of the Hunting Act. It demonstrates how serf-like the hunting community is, gleefully swallowing the Countryside Alliance line that repeal of the Hunting Act is in their sights.

“There could well be efforts to discredit hunting.” You bet there will!

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From our archive

bloodsportsFollowing our head office move from central London to leafy Surrey just over a year ago, the League has begun the long process of creating electronic versions of archive material, some dating right back to the foundations of the League in 1924.

Some of this material continues to be useful, and there are plans for a high profile outing of some of the material as part of our Keep Cruelty History campaign in the run up to the general election. But some of it is just fascinating, such as this confidential 1947 letter from the British Field Sports Society (BFSS) to all Masters of Hounds.

In the letter, BFSS Secretary James W Fitzwilliam is complaining that the term ‘blood sports’ is becoming increasingly common, including amongst huntsmen themselves. He urges use of the terms ‘country sports’ and ‘field sports’ instead, to avoid “suggesting to townspeople … all sorts of unknown horrors”.

Those damn townspeople, eh. The arrogance with which hunters then – as now – claim hunting to be favoured by country people and attacked only by townies who don’t understand the issues is astonishing. The League has this year undertaken extensive research to find out more about the demographic make-up of our members, and we know that the vast majority of our members live and work in the countryside, and also visit it regularly. ‘Townspeople’ they are not. And we also know from the Ipsos-MORI poll last month that support for the ban on hunting remains over 70% even in rural communities.

It’s clear from the tone of the letter that the blood sports brigade was fearful even then of a public turning against them and their cruel ‘sport’. Then, just as now, the hunters wanted a veil of secrecy around their nefarious activities and then, as now, they had an organisation to help them out. Incidentally, the BFSS was later to become the Countryside Alliance, that well known champion of rural post offices.

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