News Bulletin archive

ACIG NEWS 51


Bulletin of the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group 

January 2015

 

 

 

 

Waveney Harriers on A144 after meet at Boundary Farm, Ilketshall St. Margaret, Saturday January 10th 2015.

 

ENFORCING THE HUNTING ACT 2004

I took the above photograph when supporting Hunt Saboteurs as they endeavoured to enforce the Hunting Act following the meet of the Waveney Harriers at Boundary Farm, Ilketshall St. Margaret on Saturday January 10th 2015.

I came upon this scene in mid-afternoon on the busy A144 that runs from Bungay to Halesworth. It is a road on which there have been many accidents in recent years. When I first arrived the hounds were gathered in the field on the western side of the road, with the Huntsman off his horse, amongst them. What had happened I do not know but it certainly looked suspicious and if it was the end of a trail hunt it was a strange and foolish direction to lay the trail in – right towards a dangerous road and when it was blowing a howling gale making the hounds even more difficult to control than usual.

Soon after the Hunting Act came into effect the police officer who deals with hunting issues in Suffolk sat at my dining room table and informed me that he had spoken to all the hunts in Suffolk and they had each assured him that they would only be hunting legally (they would say that wouldn’t they?). That being the case the police officer told me that any film that I might take that might show otherwise could only actually be evidence of an “accident” taking place – so was not illegal. Suffolk police have also been advising hunts how to protect themselves from prosecution under the Act. Hunters that use the trail hunting exemption have been told to film themselves laying a trail each and every morning they go out – as that will give them evidence with which to prove their intent. Hunt staff have also been advised to hang back from their hounds to avoid being seen in the same frame. Hunt monitors have to prove that the hunters could see that their hounds were hunting illegal quarry and encouraged their hounds to hunt that illegal quarry. If the hunt staff are a field or two back they can easily claim that they thought their hounds were hunting a trail, or rabbits or rats and that is why they encouraged them. This may appear to be all well and good for hunters and has undoubtedly helped some to escape prosecution but it does raise two very serious problems for hunting. Firstly “hands-off” hunting means that hounds can more easily run riot and hunt alternative quarry plus pets and livestock. Secondly it is easier for experienced hunt saboteurs, seeing illegal hunting taking place, to intervene and take the hounds away from the hunt staff. Beagle and basset packs and mink hunts, all of which hunt on foot, are particularly vulnerable to the latter.

The Waveney Harriers like all hunts after the ban could have had it easy. They could have obviously and only hunted legally but they have preferred to be secretive and elusive and operate behind a shield of aggression and violence. Their supporters are notorious for damaging any unattended vehicles they find belonging to antis. I have had my car kicked one day, my side window smashed another and mud smeared over my camera lens – all whilst merely trying to observe what they are doing – not sabotage them or interfere with their activities in any way.

Times have now changed. I have had enough of standing on the side-lines watching and filming as hounds hunt our wildlife and then having to try and prove that the hunters knew full well what they were doing so it was illegal. I am not prepared to film animals being tormented and perhaps even killed in some vague hope that months down the line some case might come to court after which even if by some miracle the hunters are convicted they will receive but a slight tap on the wrist. No more than I would stand idly by and watch a violent thug mug an old lady - now if the intent is obvious I will intervene directly and do my best to stop the crime happening.

Hunt saboteur groups up and down the country take a similar view and in recent months have intervened directly and saved countless animals from being illegally killed. Okay so this doesn’t do much for the prosecution figures - and not many registered hunts have been convicted of illegal hunting - but I am sure you will agree that it is far better to stop the crime ever happening and have the potential victim ending the day alive and running free.

Hunters of course loathe being forced to obey the law. Before the ban ever came in some 40,000 said that they would ignore it and many pledged to go to jail rather than obey it. The latter it turns out was an empty threat – no hunters have gone to jail (at least not for infringing the Hunting Act) and even the few that are taken to court twist turn and squirm in their efforts to avoid conviction.

Breaking News……… On January 24th 2015, following their meet at Mendham in Suffolk the Waveney Harriers became the first hunt ever to be advised by the police to pack up and go home to prevent illegal hunting. Hunt saboteurs were present and their presence brought in eight police officers from Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies. I was patrolling at the edge of the hunt. Hounds were put into fields that were waterlogged and full of hares. The hounds quickly rioted and chased hares in every direction. This was clearly illegal hunting and the police could hardly all stand and watch it happening. A Norfolk Police Sergeant marched across the field putting himself between the hunt and the hares and in no uncertain terms told the hunters that in his opinion if they carried on they would be breaking the law. The hunters could have reduced their pack and changed their method or location of hunting but they preferred to go home – giving a single-finger gesture to the sabs as they went. I have campaigned for 44 years to see the police uphold the law, the will of Parliament and the will of our nation in this way. I have seen good days in the hunting fields and I have seen bad days but this has to have been my best day ever in our countryside! Now let’s see all police forces follow this lead and tell their hunts to hunt legally – or not hunt at all.

 

ELECTION MAY 7TH 2015

When you read this it will be only some three months until we have a new Government. The election in May will shape the future for countless animals in the UK for the next half-decade. All the current polls indicate that the result will be very close – so every vote will count. I am not in the business of telling supporters how to vote. I do ask that people vote and then vote wisely. Read what your candidates have to say, look at the result last time in your constituency and vote for the best possible result. Beyond voting, please also think of campaigning for compassionate candidates. The hunting fraternity have been preparing for years for this moment. They will be out in droves in the run up to the election leafleting for their candidates. If we are to win for animals we need not only to match their efforts we need to far exceed them. I will be doing all that I can both directly and indirectly by injecting a few facts and figures into the debates such as the following that I posted on my Facebook page:-

Here is something for Nigel Farage to ponder over. Hunting wildlife with hounds is a foreign import, imposed upon the English by our French conquerors after 1066. Even the bloodsports rabble know this as confirmed by the following quote from a “country sports” book: “It is an interesting thought that if Harold had won the battle of Hastings and no other Norman invasion had been successful, there would, most probably, be no hunting in the British Isles as we know it today. The Saxons and their kin did not use packs of hounds for hunting by scent; the hounds, the customs and the language of the chase came from France.” From Lurchers and Longdogs by E.G. Walsh. The Boydell Press. 1984. Page 47, 2nd paragraph.

 

YOUTUBE CAMPAIGNING

I have been working really hard to get all the key pieces of video film gathered by myself and colleagues over the years accessible to all on the Internet through Youtube. This can be lengthy and painstaking work as often I have to use aged equipment as that is the only way to play old VHS and VHS-C tapes.

Since our last news bulletin I have uploaded the following videos to Youtube. They are listed here in chronological order according to the date uploaded:-

August 29th: Hare coursing 10/2/2002. This clip taken by myself for the ACIG is important as it shows the moment a dog is slipped against a hare by an illegal hare courser. The clip has been used in Police training videos. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/nCXPKRsyKwo

September 1st: Staghunting August 1995. Filmed by Kevin Hill for the LACS this shows hounds engulfing an exhausted stag as he runs down a slope. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/DscTvtfuaDg

September 4th: Staghunting 25/4/1996. Filmed by Kevin Hill for the LACS this shows the “botched shot” with the Huntsman creeping up on the exhausted stag, shooting him and the stag running off with his lower jaw smashed. The stag was hunted for another 14 minutes before being killed.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/yT60QyZMu5k

September 8th: Staghunting 29/9/1994. Filmed by Kevin Hill for the LACS this is in my opinion the most powerful expose of the barbaric nature of staghunting ever filmed. It is the infamous river Barle incident. The exhausted stag was shot at least four times without being killed. Kevin had his view blocked, he was jostled and punched and finally mud was smeared over his camera lens to stop him from gathering the truth for the public. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/nuzipLShQlk

September 26th: Ward Union Staghounds, Republic of Ireland 19/1/1999. I took this film for the ACIG. It has been widely shown on television in Ireland and is a powerful expose of the cruelty and violence that is inevitable at the end of a carted staghunt. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/uoVfbu8w2AM

December 12th: Sinnington Cubs 23/6/1998. Myself and a colleague from the ACIG filmed these cubs captive in an artificial earth in Sinnington Foxhounds country. With the help of the RSPCA these cubs were rescued, rehabilitated and then released into the wild in an area safe from hunting.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/hCF6UpiExLc

December 14th: Sinnington Cubs 23/6/1998. This is a longer version of the above video showing more of the artificial earth. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/QG-NZ-6fdSA

December 15th: Waveney Harriers 27/1/2007. I took this film for the ACIG when monitoring the hunt. Even though I was alone and armed only with a camera you can see the difficulties that I faced. Hunt supporters blocked my view, jostled me and eventually smeared mud on the lens of my camera.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/1KCix-7lZok

December 18th: Thurlow Foxhounds 26/2/2009. You can see the difficulties that I faced monitoring this hunt for the ACIG. This hunt supporter used to follow me everywhere I drove and he would have a yellow flashing light on his car roof to indicate my location to the rest of the hunt. He was also in regular mobile phone contact with the hunters. I was not sabotaging the hunt nor interfering with their activities in any way – other than by my presence with a camera – but see how he loses his temper with me. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/x582mV-oPfM

December 18th: Thurlow Foxhounds 26/2/2009 around 3.20p.m. Same hunt, same supporter as before. Now with the hounds in cry in the wood on our right the supporter has calmed down a bit and merely tries to block the view of my camera. One wonders why he would do this if he was confident that his hunt was hunting legally. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/qXVHqpdU-bs

December 22nd: Quorn Foxhounds 8/10/1991. I took this film when working undercover for the ACIG. It proves the protracted nature of a dig-out. This fox was held for 4 minutes 29 seconds by the terrierman before being shot – and there was a lengthy dig before that to even get hold of the fox.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/zN7i4lkIi40

December 22nd: Quorn Foxhounds 4/10/1991. This is another of my films for the ACIG. See this young cub being dug to and bolted. The cub survived only because the vixen intervened and gave her life for her offspring. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/cnMg1gZn-hE

December 29th: Staff College Draghounds 19/3/2000. I took this film for the ACIG as an observer on the visits to the hunting fields by the Lord Burns Hunting Inquiry team. This is a draghunt in action. See how humane it is – how the only “kill” is a bucket full of biscuits as reward for the hounds.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/KNaFv4S_E1w

December 29th: Eastern Counties Minkhounds 15/5/2004. I took this film as a monitor for the ACIG. See how my presence with a camera unsettled the hunters.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/bTRA8WnPpBE

December 30th: Quantock Staghounds 19/3/1982. I took this old bit of silent cine film when working undercover within staghunting. It shows a young Spring stag run down a slope with hounds in close pursuit, jump a hedge but catch his legs on the hedge top and flip over on the road breaking his neck.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/gCj2YXd_qbo

December 31st: Staghunting mixed. This is a compilation of silent cine film from my undercover work in 1981-83 showing the end of several staghunts. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/v7k-RN3hNG8

January 1st: Devon and Somerset Staghounds 5/12/1981. Another bit of silent cine film from my undercover work. This shows the gralloch of a hind above Porlock Bay.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/jW3d0k4xAIY

January 2nd: Jim Barrington in a League Against Cruel Sports training interview in mid-1984. This is a reminder of just what an effective speaker for the anti-hunt cause Jim was – he now speaks for hunting with but a fraction of this passion. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/75ZK5ixxmLs

January 4th: Devon and Somerset Staghounds 22/10/1981. This silent cine film of mine shows the end of an Autumn Staghunt. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/N58rRNz1JkE

January 4th: Quantock Staghounds 7/10/1981. This is another silent cine film from my undercover work detailed in my book “Outfoxed”. This shows the gruesome end for a stag that ended up stuck in deep mud. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/-AHMl8pckDY

January 4th: Middle English “Fieldsports…Bloodsports?” This education programme for schools dates to around 1980/81. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/IQTj8dSB79c

January 8th: Jim Barrington speaking for LACS at public meeting in Ringwood 25/11/1991.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/_UrfRRMk_8A

January 14th: Three Counties Minkhounds 11/9/1982. Working undercover I took this silent cine film that shows the hunt where the Joint Master and Huntsman at the time was also the Conservation and Education Officer for the British Field Sports Society taking a chainsaw to an old willow to evict a mink that was seeking sanctuary in the tree. Link to clip: http://youtu.be/i2JD7Ig2uxg

January 16th: “Affairs of the Hart”. This clip is a short extract from this 1988 ITV programme that shows hunt saboteurs in action against the Devon and Somerset Staghounds in the mid-1960s. It is the earliest film of hunt saboteurs protecting wildlife that I am aware of.

Link to clip: http://youtu.be/r-R1rIRw97Y

 

PET RESCUE – a report by Lucy-Ann Huskisson

After Kai, the Shar-Pei crossbreed, who was left at Ayr train station with a suitcase after being purchased off Gumtree had gained international news coverage, I thought I would share with you my own experience with the website. When my parents were away, an advert caught my eye from the site offering a rabbit 'free to a good home'. Whilst I wasn't exactly looking to take on a rabbit, it wasn't long before Sofia had nestled her way into my heart.

            There was very little information provided. I knew from the fuzzy photograph that she was a white albino lop, and that the advert listed her as sixteen weeks old, but that was about it. I promptly contacted the owner to find out if Sofia had found a home yet, and once it was confirmed that she hadn't it was clear that she would soon be finding one with me.

            When I went to collect Sofia I discovered that she had originally been purchased from Pets at Home for the couple’s young children, only to later discover that they were allergic to her. She hopped out of her cage happily enough although after being hotly pursued by the young children and a lot of shrieking and screaming, it wasn't long before Sofia was back in her cage and pressed as flat to the floor as she could get. She was living as a house rabbit and being kept in a cage (bought at the same time she was) that was advertised from Pets at Home as suitable for a guinea pig or a small rabbit.

            The reality of this became even more heart-breaking and frustrating when we later learnt that Sofia was a French Lop, a breed that is commonly considered to be semi-giant. In fairness to the couple that had originally bought her, they honestly seemed to have wanted to do the best for the rabbit. For me the primary fault lies with Pets at Home for selling a cage in conjunction with a breed of rabbit that would soon grow to be far too large for it.

            When I first bought Sofia home I allowed her to have a run around our dining room. For about the first ten minutes she was too scared to even move, but after that she began to explore. Before long she was rushing around; jumping over chairs, onto boxes, having a nose around the fireplace and generally getting up to no good.

            Thankfully, I was raised by parents who (although a little shocked at the new addition to our family) instantly fell in love with her just as much as I had. Three months on Sofia has grown into one of the largest rabbits we have ever had! She is housed in an outbuilding with plenty of floor space and levels for her to explore. She is incredibly friendly and inquisitive and now (following her full recovery from being neutered), she is preparing to be bonded with an equally lovely neutered male rabbit who we are adopting from a nearby animal sanctuary to be companions for each other.

            I wanted to share the experience of Sofia with you for two reasons. Firstly to show that whilst there are horror stories on the internet (I would never condone the exchange of animals on websites such as Gumtree or Freecycle) there are also those rare occasions in which the stars align and the right person happens to spot the right advertisement and perhaps avert an otherwise awful situation. 

            Secondly, to further show that we all really can have an impact on an animal’s life, even if it is on a more individual basis. At sixteen weeks old, Sofia was being advertised as a young female rabbit with a very uncertain future. She could have easily been collected by someone wishing to breed from her, or on a whim by another family simply wishing to please their children. Instead she has found her forever home and will spend the rest of her life being thoroughly loved, pampered and cared for by us.  

 

POWERFUL EXPRESSION OF ALL THAT WAS AND IS WRONG IN FOXHUNTING

A colleague sent me this excellent article that was printed in the periodical “The World & His Wife” dated 1907. I shared it on my Facebook page and am pleased to reprint it here below for those supporters who cannot access my Facebook campaigning work. It may be old – pre-dating the First World War – but little has changed in the hunting fields of today – even after the hunting ban.

BRUTALIZED BY FOX HUNTING

A stirring article, in which a recently returned Anglo-Australian sets forth his impressions of the sport of fox-hunting. We do not in any way identify ourselves with his opinions, but insert them as the expression of one man’s opinion

Although an Englishman by birth, I have lived abroad for the last twenty years; consequently my knowledge of what I am told is the national winter sport of the middle and upper classes was, until recently, very limited. Being a fair horseman, curious also to see something of this far-famed sport, I accepted an invitation to visit a friend in the Midlands, and on one occasion rode out to the meet and followed the hounds. Once was enough.

I have difficulty in finding words to express my opinion of this so-called sport. Fox-hunting is a relic of barbarism and should be relegated to the same category as bull-baiting, cock-fighting, and occupations of a similar nature, wherein our ancestors took delight.

For them there was some excuse. The country squires of the olden time were a hard-drinking set, uncultured, scarcely educated; so it is not surprising that their favourite amusements should have been rough, and tinged by barbarity. But what can be said in excuse of educated gentlemen of the present day, who find pleasure in hunting a wretched animal to death? Allow me briefly to recount my personal experience – what I saw with my own eyes.

It is not necessary for my purpose to mention names; sufficient to say that one day recently I was at the meet of a well-known pack of foxhounds. ‘Twas, I admit, a gay and cheery scene. Many of the men wore red coats, and, judging from the attention they had evidently bestowed upon their dress, the occasion was invested with no small importance in their estimation. Quite a number of ladies were present, some mounted, others in carriages.

A Revolting Ceremony

The meet was obviously a social function of repute and standing. Before long the hounds ejected a fox from its lair in the woods, and the hunt began. It was but a short one. Scent was evidently good, and after traversing a few fields the fox was run into by the eager pack. There ensued a truly disgusting exhibition. Dismounting, the huntsman rescued the poor creature from the hounds, cut off its head, tail and feet (mask, brush and pads are, I am informed, the “sporting” terms); then, holding aloft the bleeding remains of the animal, he gave a wild yell, doubtless to stimulate the ardour of the baying pack, and flung the maimed body into their jaws.

The “trophies” of the chase were distributed among some of the riders. The tail, or brush, was presented to a lady, one of the whippers-in fixing it to the head-stall of her horse’s bridle.

Worse remains to be told. Among those who were in at the death – another “sporting” term – was a boy of about twelve on a pony. He had never before, it appeared, achieved that highly esteemed honour of seeing the “kill,” so had to submit to a revolting ceremony, more suited for a tribe of savages than educated Englishmen. The boy was – as it is called – “blooded.” I hear that quite babies are submitted to this barbarity. The huntsman smeared his face all over with the blood of the defunct fox. Can one imagine anything more brutalizing, more calculated to destroy refinement and encourage coarseness?

The friend with whom I was staying was a clergyman, also a keen fox-hunter. As I came to understand the real nature of the business, I experienced a strong feeling of repulsion towards him. It seemed to me nothing short of scandalous that a clergyman of the Church of England should encourage by his presence and example such a hideous mockery of sport. Had I followed my inclination, I should have gone home immediately after the first fox was killed, but I wished to see the thing out and ascertain the lengths to which English gentlemen would go in their craze for fox-hunting.

Fought for his Life

The hounds did not get on the track of another fox for some little time, but at length one jumped up in a field of turnips right before them, and away they went full cry in pursuit. This proved to be a stout animal; and he fought bravely for his life. Far and fast the pack sped away; and after a time my horse began to tire. So, with some twenty other horsemen, I kept to the roads and lanes, piloted by an elderly gentleman, who evidently knew the country well.

After about an hour, from some rising ground we caught sight of the hunted fox, at no great distance. I had seen it at the start, when it jumped away full of life and vigour, with its coat thick and glossy, and its bushy tail carried jauntily. A sorry spectacle it presented now. Its tail and coat were all draggled; and it was evidently in the last stage of exhaustion. The hounds were not far behind their fox, and it seemed as though nothing could save it, when suddenly it disappeared from view in a burrow or drain. I imagined, in my ignorance, that the wretched animal would now be left in peace, never dreaming that the refinement of cruelty I was about to witness was possible.

Digging out a Fox

Most of the people now dismounted in order to ease their horses, many of which were fairly done. The huntsman proceeded to inspect the burrow in which the fox had taken refuge. A fox-terrier was procured, and, being shown the spot, was quickly out of sight, fighting hard to come to close quarters with its enemy, and barking furiously. But the burrow being too small to admit it, one of the whippers-in obtained a spade and proceeded to dig down upon the fox. Presently a bedraggled, miserable object emerged; it was barely able to crawl, already half dead. The poor creature was allowed to run some little distance, then the pack started in pursuit, and bowled it over. Once again we were treated to the same degrading exhibition, and I turned my horse homeward, sad at heart to think that my fellow country men – and women – should lend themselves to such scene of cruelty.

A Lingering Death

It is time that the barbarity of fox-hunting was exposed, and I trust that you will find room in your influential journal for these expressions of opinion. I am convinced that to the vast majority of Englishmen the real nature of fox-hunting is altogether unknown.

Consider what this so-called sport means – preserving the race of foxes in order to hunt them to death. Sometimes the poor brute escapes the cruel fangs of its enemies, only to die a lingering death from exhaustion. It was stated in the Press recently that a fox which had found refuge in a drain or open “earth” was occasionally extricated therefrom with an implement resembling a corkscrew, which was forced into its body.

It seems incredible that such things should be, yet the statement, so far from being contradicted, was more or less confirmed. It was explained that unless the barbarous implement were employed the fox might bite the person endeavouring to pull it out. This is a matter which is deserving of very particular attention on the part of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The influence of fox-hunting on those who take part in it cannot be otherwise than lowering the moral tone. Accustomed day after day to witness the acts of cruelty I have attempted to describe, men and women grow callous. Not one iota do they care for the sufferings of the hunted fox, so long as they enjoy a good gallop. The result is that sensibilities become blunted, not only as regards fox-hunting, but in reference to the ordinary affairs of life. I will not shrink from saying that the code of manners which obtains in regular hunting circles leaves a great deal to be desired. Fox-hunting tends to brutalise.

On the one and only occasion that I indulged in the sport (?) ladies were pointed out to me who were regular followers of hounds. I was not surprised at the information, as they showed plainly in their appearance and manners the effects of their habitual occupation. With their complexions rendered coarse by exposure to all kinds of weather. Loud of voice, free of gesture, they appeared to me to offer an interesting object lesson of precisely what a woman ought not to be.

I am afraid that on this subject of fox-hunting my voice will be lifted in vain. The greatest men in the land lend their support to the wretched business. It will be said that fox-hunting gives employment to thousands, who otherwise might be out of work. Also, that it causes money to circulate freely in the country districts where it is most wanted. I reply that no such specious arguments should be entertained for a moment. Nothing can justify the degrading scenes and revolting cruelty which are inseparable from fox-hunting. Imagine a young girl, refined, cultured, looking on calmly while a poor brute of a fox is dismembered, and then torn up by the hounds! Custom sanctions these brutalities. The girl does not realise what she sees, because she has never thought out the matter for herself. But I cannot think that the mothers of England, who read your journal, will approve of the scenes and practices I have endeavoured to portray. They will, I am convinced, condemn them, and with no uncertain voice.

ANGLO-AUSTRALIAN

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You are welcome to quote anything in our literature or on our web site.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Whilst we pride ourselves in never pestering supporters for money we do need funding. Vehicles, fuel, cameras and computer equipment all cost money. If you do not already support our investigation and education work by standing order please consider doing so – a small regular amount such as £1 a month, or £12 a year, makes a big difference – if enough people do this. Thank you. You can now set up your own standing order directly with your bank yourself using the details on our supporter form.

INFORMATION SPREADING

Please help us to spread far and wide the true facts about the mistreatment of animals. You can do this by passing on our news bulletins – physically or via the Internet - and if you have access to the Internet by sharing my posts on Facebook and passing links to our Youtube videos to friends and colleagues. People need to understand the full measure of the cruelty that is inflicted upon animals if they are to be motivated to do anything effective to stop it. The suffering has gone on for far too long – now let’s make a real push to end it.

ELECTION WORK

May 7th 2015 will be a key day in the history of animal welfare campaigning. It is likely that we will only get two chances a decade to make our views heard so please make yours a loud and clear voice for the voiceless.

UNWANTED ITEMS THAT CAN BE SOLD TO RAISE FUNDS

The car boot sale season will soon be starting again. Small unwanted items that are easily sold are a good way for us to raise funds for our work. In particular we appreciate old UK (pre-decimal) and foreign currency, coins and notes and broken or unwanted items of jewellery.

LEGACIES

You have seen after many years of ACIG successes that we have a proven ability to win for animals. For anyone considering remembering the vital investigation work of the ACIG in their will, to enable us to continue to achieve, I respectfully suggest using the following form of bequest:

I bequeath unto the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group of P.O. Box 8, Halesworth, Suffolk,

IP19 0JL, the sum of ............................. free of tax and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the group shall be a good and sufficient discharge of such legacy.”

Please note that neither the ACIG nor the AWIS is a charity. We have given a lot of thought to and taken legal advice on making one or other, or perhaps both, of these groups a charity but as yet we have not done so. Whilst many animal rescue centres are charities most of the large campaigning animal welfare groups are not. Like them we are at present unwilling to restrict our campaigning activities which would be the inevitable result of taking on charitable status. Please do not allow your solicitor to discourage you from leaving your money to whomsoever you wish, whether they are a charity or not.

 

IN MEMORIAM

Tragically, far too many people working for animals have suffered appallingly at the hands of the abusers. Several have paid the ultimate price. They will never be forgotten. The memory of their sacrifice should inspire us all to do much more for the causes that we know to be just. ALL who give their lives for animals are remembered but we do particularly recall the following whose lives were taken by our opponents:-

 

James Piper, RSPCA Inspector: Died in 1838 after sustaining severe injuries tackling cockfighters at Hanworth, Middlesex.

William Sweet, LACS member: Murdered 6/1/1976 after altercation with man shooting birds. Assailant was jailed for life but has long been released.

Fernando Pereira, Greenpeace photographer: Murdered 10/7/1985 by the French Secret Service when the vessel “Rainbow Warrior” was sunk by two explosions, Auckland Harbour, New Zealand.

Michael Hill, Hunt Saboteur: Killed 9/2/1991 protesting against hare hunting at the Cheshire Beagles.

Thomas Worby, Hunt Saboteur: Killed 3/4/1993 protesting against fox hunting at the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds.

Jill Phipps, Animal Rights Activist: Killed 1/2/1995 protesting against live exports of farm animals, Coventry Airport.

Paola Quartini, animal activist for LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection - UK) from Genoa, Italy and Elvio Fichera, a volunteer for the Association of Abandoned Animals:  Both were murdered 12/5/2010 whilst trying, with police, to serve a warrant on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot them dead, then injured his wife, then killed himself.

 

It will all be over when next I write a news bulletin. We will have a new Government. We will be doing our best to ensure that we have as many compassionate MPs as possible but beyond that whatever the complexion of the new Government we will strive to push animal welfare high up the political agenda – to a position that accurately reflects the high regard that so many give to this issue. I am particularly keen to ensure that all the evidence that we have gathered to date should at least be accessible to anyone seeking it. We cannot make people view a photograph, read a page, open a book or view a film but surely we must at the very least make it possible for them to do so if they wish. I have just uploaded to Youtube a short piece of film of Hunt Saboteurs in action against the Devon and Somerset Staghounds in the mid-1960s. This is the earliest example of hunt sabotage that I am aware of. Until a few days ago it had remained buried in our archive on an old VHS tape of a 1988 ITV programme. Now it is accessible the world over via our Youtube archive. I know you will agree that this is important work. I now divide my time between fieldwork and archive work – and none of this would be possible without your continued support. It is your generous donations that enable us to win for animals. Thank you. Our next bulletin will be written in July.                  Editor. January 2015

Animal Cruelty Investigation Group, PO Box 8, HALESWORTH, Suffolk. IP19 0JL

E-mail: acig@btinternet.com                 Web site: www.acigawis.org.uk


























ACIG NEWS 46

Bulletin of the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group July 2012

 

 Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) at Moss Landing, California. April 26th 2012

Photograph by Lucy-Ann Huskisson

 

During her university studies Lucy-Ann was able to take an exchange visit and study in California. This gave her a great opportunity to see the local wildlife and meet those who care for it. Above is a photograph that she took of a delightful sea otter. These creatures that were hunted to near extinction for their fur are now suffering in other ways at the hands of man. There are groups working to help them, most notably: Friends of the Sea Otter (www.seaotters.org). They would welcome your support.


MAILING CHANGES

The latest rise in postage making a second class letter 50p has caused us to rethink how we communicate with supporters. Since June 1989 we have been mailing ACIG supporters twice a year. We have been doing the same to Animal Welfare Information Service supporters since May 1995. Supporters of both groups receive four mailings a year. In addition to the postage costs there is the cost of printing, envelopes and mailing labels. It costs some £2000 a year to post our literature. There is also the length of time it takes to stuff the envelopes, label them and stamp them. The use of paper also means a significant cost to the environment.

There is an alternative way to communicate with supporters – namely by e-mail. For some years now we have asked supporters for their e-mail addresses. E-mail contact has allowed us to communicate quickly with supporters and we have used that facility with our “Action for Compassion” e-mail circulars calling on supporters to participate in particular campaigns. This has proved effective. For some time now some supporters have also asked to receive their News Bulletins by e-mail and we have been pleased to oblige. Sending bulletins by e-mail save us time and money and gives the benefit to the supporter of receiving all News Bulletins with colour photographs (except where the original was black and white) and they receive them quicker and with more certainty (none are “lost in the post”).

This latest rise in postage is the last straw. We are in e-mail contact with hundreds of supporters and we contacted them asking their thoughts about receiving all future mailings. Many have replied and to date everyone is in agreement. Supporters recognise that the money and time saved here could be better spent on our valuable education and campaigning work. There is a slight downside in that there always appears to be a loss of income associated with internet requests as opposed to direct mailings of paper appeals. Somehow it is easier to respond to something held in your hand rather than read on the computer screen. However that is a challenge that we seek to overcome by making our future internet appeals all the more imaginative!!

THE FUTURE

The way forward for your contact with your AWIS and ACIG is as follows:-

1). IF YOU USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: have you sent us your current preferred e-mail address? If you would like to receive future mailings by e-mail please be sure that you have sent us your current e-mail address. If you are in e-mail contact with us but would still like to receive your mailings through the post please tell us, otherwise we will e-mail them to you.  

2). IF YOU DO NOT USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM NOR HAVE ANY EASY ACCESS TO IT THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: if you have sent either the ACIG or the AWIS any donation or any communication within the last two years you do not have to do anything – we will continue to mail to you by post. If we have heard nothing from you for over two years and we are not in e-mail contact with you please contact us now by post or by phone or we will very reluctantly have to delete your mailing card and you will hear nothing further from us. We need your continued support and as a final effort to retain it we will try to phone you if we can. If all our efforts fail sadly we will lose contact.

Over the many years of our successful campaigning we have accumulated a number of shall we say “redundant” addresses.  After most mailings we get a few irate phone calls along the lines: “Don’t you realise that this person moved away four years ago!” We politely reply that no we did not realise that, if we had, we would have stopped mailing! Because we receive some anonymous donations, say a £20 note sent in with an unidentifiable supporter form, we have not been able to simply delete the mailing cards of supporters that we have not heard from for years. The anonymous donor could be one of those. Updating our mailing list so that we e-mail as many as possible and only post to supporters, not to empty houses or old addresses, has been put off for too long. The time for this essential action is now.

Thank you for your patience and for your help with this. It will make our operating systems much more efficient and effective. In the short term we expect to see a dual mailing system as some supporters receive mailings by e-mail whilst others receive their mailings through the post. In time the proportions will change as more and more are able to access e-mail.

3). Internet and Facebook users please send me a Facebook friend request. We put many images on my Facebook page and use it for campaigning purposes. We have just used another photograph of sea otters with this caption: “A message to the dominant species - from the others who share this planet When you wake up, reflect on this with sorrow, for your today, you have stolen our tomorrow.

HUNT MONITORING

The ACIG has volunteers up and down the country who regularly monitor hunts. This can on occasion be dangerous and distressing work. Earlier this year I was pleased to send a small donation towards petrol and camera costs to our supporter Judi Hewitt who has been courageously monitoring her local hunts in North Wales. I asked her to send us a short write up about the work she does to give other supporters an idea about this valuable work. Here is her report:-

“SAFEGUARDING OUR WILDLIFE

I monitor hunts as often as I can - occasionally with outside help. Monitoring is not easy - it is something I would rather not be doing. Gathering evidence that could get a hunt into court is about being in the right place at the right time. Filming the cruelty is something I dread, but feel compelled to do. I witnessed a cruel kill back in 2002 and it has haunted me ever since.  

My campaign for foxes goes back to the early nineties when I witnessed a gun pack in operation. It was Boxing Day and we just wanted to take a lovely afternoon walk through the wood at Llanfair Talhaiarn. As soon as we arrived we found the wood surrounded by men with guns. The sound of fox hounds baying echoing through the wood. It felt like a knife had been plunged into my heart. You see, the previous summer we had been walking this wood at sunset and had startled a vixen and her two cubs - they were sat either side of her enjoying the last rays of the evening sun. Upon seeing us the vixen gave a soft bark and fled back up into the trees, her cubs running alongside.

My instinct to protect these vulnerable creatures came from this chance meeting - so when we were warned by these shooter/terrier-men to keep out of the wood, my anguish boiled over, but all I could do was tell them how low I thought they were - all the while feeling their guns on our backs as we made our way through the trees. Later on that afternoon we saw the hound van arrive and just when we thought it was all over we heard the excited sound of men and dogs - they were digging out a fox. I just remember feeling so helpless, I just screamed, I lost my voice for week. It was this sordid cruelty that led to my getting involved in the campaign against fox hunting. 

But getting back to the mounted hunt, I doubt I will ever understand the mindset of a hunt follower - to me, they are even worse than the riders - following a hunt to watch them torment an animal to death is truly sick, to me it is base voyeurism. 

Here in North Wales, foxes are still suffering this hunt brutality - the ban has done little to stop their suffering so someone has to be there for them. I'm told that gun packs are still operating in more remote parts of Wales but I am yet to come across one so I suppose the ban has at least stopped some of these 'mainly' farmer gangs.  

There are times during a hunt when I have found myself trembling so much I am unable to keep my binoculars/camera steady, but it is not fear for myself, it is fear that I might be about to witness a terrified fox being ripped apart, or dug out. Yes, terrier-work is still a big part of the hunt here. Like many other monitors across the UK I get sick of being fobbed off by the police. They appear happy to accept the word of the hunt, that they are just drag hunting. Perhaps if they got out of their comfortable offices to monitor the hunt themselves they would find overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact that hunts take hounds into coverts where riders cannot possibly follow is an indication that something under-hand is happening. The fact they are often accompanied by terrier-men on quad-bikes complete with terrier-boxes is surely proof that foxes are being hunted and cruelly dug out. But when the police call to see the Hunt Master and are taken on a tour of the kennels and appear impressed by the condition of the hounds, not to mention the Hunt Masters knowledge of the Hunting Act, well, it makes one feel let down. 

Having last season seen a fox chased by hounds through a steep, muddy covert is proof enough for me that some are still fox hunting but because I failed to get the fox on camera - it jumped into view unexpectedly, and was gone in a flash - makes me feel that the police view my accusations with suspicion.  

Even when I get photographic proof that some supporters riding quad bikes at hunts are breaking the licence laws I am told that the hunt has now been warned. If I drove my car without plates and insurance I would be prosecuted and fined heavily, not warned! But then there does appear to be one law for the hunt and another for the likes of you and me.  

As a hunt monitor I am aware of how much the hunt and their supporters despise us - some years ago I had threatening telephone messages from five hunt supporters and recently a green Land Rover turned up at my address and the occupant took a picture of my home. Sniggers and verbal abuse are to be expected when I go out monitoring, they come with the territory. My pain is for the hunted animal - sticks and stones and all that!  

Thankfully I now have two companions to help me monitor this hunt. Monitoring on my own was lonely and I felt vulnerable at times but the welfare of the fox was always forefront in my mind. 

I guess I am speaking for all other monitors when I say: defending foxes from gratuitous cruelty is what drives us on and it is that determination and true grit that will defeat our wildlife's evil executioners in the end.”  JUDI HEWITT 

BLOODSPORTS FEATURE ARTICLE

Lucy-Ann has just completed her final year studies at University. She was asked to conduct interviews and write a feature article on a topical subject. She chose a topic that she has heard a lot about, and of course, as required of a good journalist, interviewed both sides. Here is her article:-

Where do we stand on hunting animals for sport?

-Hunting is one issue guaranteed to raise hackles and generate strong opinions. Some eight years since the controversial Act to ban hunting was passed, what effects are now being seen?

            Hunting wild mammals with dogs was made illegal by the 2004 Hunting Act which took effect in 2005. It was an Act that saw politicians and campaigners fighting night and day for their sides, and even when the House of Commons and the majority of the public supported the ban, the House of Lords still refused to pass the law. This resulted in the House of Commons instigating the Parliament Act, as Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, explains: “the 2004 Bill took the application of the Parliament Act to force it through, because, in spite of the will of the vast majority of the British public, and despite the overwhelming support of the House of Commons; the House of Lords were continuing to frustrate the will of Parliament and the will of the people”. This made the Hunting Act only the 7th piece of legislation to by-pass the House of Lords.  

            This meant that hunting with packs of hounds, so often associated with the English Countryside, and hare coursing became illegal. The Act met vast waves of controversy, but eight years on it is interesting to reflect on where we stand on the Hunting Act now.

            The Hunting Act has meant different things to different people, whether it has affected their lifestyle, career or general day to day life. Since the 2004 Act passed, ideas concerning hunting have generally grown quieter and fallen from public view. Yet, especially to those who fought so hard for or against the Act, the notion of hunting has not altogether disappeared.

            As former Chair of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), one organization supporting the Hunting Act, Mr. Williamson suggested the Act not only symbolized a step forward in animal welfare, but also something far greater. “It's a hugely civilizing piece of legislation... I think it makes a statement about the sort of country that we are; it actually criminalises an activity that sees people gaining pleasure and entertainment from, basically, persecuting and chasing wild animals simply for entertainment.”

            However, views on the Act aren't as positive from opponents. Simon Hart, Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, is former Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, the key organization that fought against the Hunting Act. “I opposed its creation and I opposed it in every stage... of its process through Parliament, its various different bills and indeed the final bill which came into effect in 05”. Following the passing of the law, it became a matter for hunt supporters to attempt to limit the impacts of the Act as far as possible.

            One of the main criticisms from Mr. Hart is that, in his opinion, the Act didn't really achieve anything. “People who think the Hunting Act signalled an end to wildlife being controlled by the use of hunting were mistaken. It is still possible to go out and use dogs, hounds, guns and everything else in order to pursue and control wildlife”. One difficulty with the legislation was the exemptions it included, which involved pest control and falconry. These made it unclear which aspects of hunting were illegal. “Anybody who thinks that there was this massive sort of alteration back in 2005 to what was going on, needs to get out there and actually see, because it isn't like that”.

            This is one key reason why Mr. Hart suggests the Act should be repealed. “It's one of those unique bits of legislation that occasionally gets passed [in Parliament] where nobody is a winner: opponents of hunting, supporters of hunting, police and onlookers and indeed wildlife. Nobody gains as a result of the Hunting Act”.

            Alternatively, Mr. Williamson explains that whilst, as with any legislation, there could be improvements, the Act has essentially achieved its aims. “It's a huge leap forwards in animal protection because it has effectively saved countless numbers of foxes and other quarry species from being chased to death”.

Maybe the issues now are less to do with the Act itself, and more its enforcement. If this is the case then, as suggested by Baroness Smith, former Labour MP for Basildon and before that Political Officer at the LACS, law breaking alone should never be reason for repeal. “Every law that gets passed gets broken... that's the reason that we have laws, so that if people break them you can take action against them.”

            Equally, this could be seen as a reason in favour of the Act, as most people would be apprehensive about participating in illegal activity. “It modifies behaviour, most people don't do things because they are against the law, but if they do they should be punished... My sort of informed speculation is that fewer people will try and break the law the longer that the Hunting Act is active”. This is especially the case in modern society where criminal records impact on everything from visa applications to future employment. As Baroness Smith continued, “it is a pretty significant issue to get a criminal conviction because you have been hunting, it doesn't look good on your CV!”

            Whilst this idea may be good in theory, when it comes to enforcement it gets harder. PC Chris Sadler, stationed at Southwold in Suffolk, is an experienced Wildlife Crime Officer. He explains that one problem with prosecutions for illegal Hunting is that it is one of the few criminal activities typically unconnected to any other illegal activity. “With fox hunting it is your average guy that's indulging in a sport, [where] in every other respect he or she are law-abiding citizens, and that presents us with a bit of a problem. You can't exactly label them as criminals”.

            Also, there is the problem of discerning what is and isn't illegal. According to Mr. Hart “unquestionably there is this very grey area, and if you went and observed a hunt in a field, in many respects it looks and sounds like it did before the ban”. This is because whilst the Act bans the hunting of wild animals with dogs, hunting itself, without hunting wild animals, is legal. This is done either through laying a scent trail which hounds follow, known as drag-hunting, or through using bloodhounds which trail human scent; both of which can look the same as traditional hunting.

Then there are claims of accidental hunting, where an animal will get chased by dogs whilst participating in legal forms of the sport. As Mr. Hart explains, “when you take out large numbers of people, hounds, horses, dogs and what have you into areas which are heavily populated by foxes and hares, from time to time dogs do what dogs will do: they will chase one as a dog will in a park after a squirrel.” Does this constitute breaking the law? According to PC Sadler, it often does, and the idea of accidental hunting can be a way of evading the law. “It's all a load of tosh. Of course they're fox hunting, but we have a legal battle on our hands when we try and prove that point because they'll use every legal device there is to try and prevent themselves from being convicted”.  

            Given the difficulties involved with enforcing the Act, the public have a role to play.  The police can't always be everywhere in the countryside, and it therefore comes down to the public to help by calling the authorities when spotting illegal activities in the countryside. As Mr. Williamson states, “in that sense we are already starting to see [that] the Act will be policed by ordinary members of the public”, and it would seem that, especially for supporters of the Act that wish to see the legislation maintained, there is still work to be done.

            One section of the Hunting Act better suited to public monitoring concerns hare coursing. As PC Sadler explains, “hare coursers tend to come in a motor car from great distances away and they'll want to have their cars with them so that they can get away should the police arrive upon the scene or should they be challenged by somebody... they've got to have a road nearby which limits their theatre of activities”. Due to this typical proximity to roads, passers-by can see such illegal activities and call the police.

            The same can't be said for hunting with packs of dogs, as PC Sadler continued, “once they're out in the countryside they're on their horses, they're going along the bridleways or on the fields, and they're not necessarily having to worry about the roads. So it's easier for the police to apprehend people hare coursing than it is fox hunting or hunting hares with horses and dogs”. Essentially, whilst some sections of the Act are easier to police than others, help from the public would be beneficial.    

Hunting has always drawn passionate responses, but now eight years on what importance does the Hunting Act hold to people today? In the run up to the 2004 Act being passed, protesters against the ban stormed Parliament disrupting proceedings and organised marches and rallies. Before that, those that worked to get the Act into the public minds embarked on nationwide media campaigns focused on getting the issue into political agendas. Yet now, with the economic climate causing havoc for many, is the issue of hunting wild mammals still of great importance?

            According to Mr. Hart, perhaps it never was; “It was a big concern for those people that were passionately in favour and it was a big concern for those people that were passionately against, but taken across the whole nation that's a relatively small number.” This could be said for many laws; typically only those that feel strongly on a matter campaign for or against it. As Mr. Hart continued, “literally you're talking about fringes of the voting public and if you took a snapshot of voters anywhere in the UK and you measured their views on hunting, [it] was always pretty low down the list if indeed it was on the list as all”.

            This opinion was echoed by PC Sadler, who explained that one problem with enforcing the Hunting Act was that there are more pressing issues for the public. “People have a wish list; they don't want to see foxes hunted but they have other wish lists as well. They want their children well educated, they want the streets clean and tidy.” It is an issue of resources, and, especially with recent police cut-backs, these are in short supply. “If there's a fox hunt in the afternoon, where do you take the police officers from? We haven't got a box in the corner of the room where we can just pluck another police officer from. We've got to take them from some other thing that they would be doing, and that's not good”.

            PC Sadler suggested that given the choice of policing a hunt or not if that harmed their ability to police the streets at night, then it would be a matter of prioritising. “I would imagine that the majority of the public would say that your priority is the night time economy and less so fox hunting... we do not have the resources to do absolutely everything”.

            Baroness Smith agreed that whilst the Act pleased many, in current times it isn't of great concern. “I think that most people don't even think about it anymore, [now] the law's been passed. They want to see the law enforced but it's not something that goes [in]to their everyday lives any more”. There seems to be a consensus that whilst the Hunting Act was once important, since the legislation has passed it has fallen to the backs of peoples’ minds. “I can't remember the last time I had a letter on hunting. When I was in the Commons you'd occasionally get one, but there was a time when that was the biggest issue in my post bag. Now I think people are happy with the law as it is”. 

            The future of the Hunting Act is uncertain. With the Coalition manifesto promising Parliamentary time to revisit the Act, we could see changes, and exactly what comes next divides opinions. Mr. Williamson feels confident that the Act will only get stronger, saying “we're becoming more accepting and tolerant of society and each other and less tolerant, I think, of unfairness and of cruelty... I'm very confident that we'll see better and stronger legislation coming through that will introduce stronger protections for wildlife”. The next step, in Mr. Williamson's opinion, will be looking at shooting: “in some ways I'm even more optimistic about that because one, I think we've got the animal welfare issue, but I also think that people are very uncomfortable about people having access to guns... I think that the public are well ahead of political opinion on this at the moment”. 

            However, according to Mr. Hart, whilst he is uncertain when, the Act will be addressed again. “The Coalition agreement commits to a vote in the lifetime of this Parliament. That vote, if it happens, will dictate the way in which the Government goes forward, whether it will go for a full scale repeal Bill, do nothing at all, or indeed something in-between.” Essentially, the Act seems to be at the back of most peoples’ minds now, but could be brought back into the public eye. As he continued, “this is unfinished business [and] I am certain there is sufficient momentum behind the move to revisit this”

            Yet Baroness Smith suggests, despite manifesto promises, now is not the time to raise the issue. “When you've got this latest stuff; the Budget that was seen to help the rich, the tax on hot food which [hurts] the poorer people who are out working during the day and need to get something hot to eat...all those sort of things have been playing to the sort of wealthy elite”. Therefore, given the general association between fox hunting and wealthy countryside dwellers, raising this issue now would only add to this idea of the government attending only to the needs of the elite minority. “I think if the Prime Minister was to try and bring back fox hunting at [this] time, that's how it would be perceived”.

            But given all the controversy, difficulties of enforcement, and resource issues, does that make the Hunting Act a bad legislation? “It irritates me when people are saying it's a bad law, but it's not...” says PC Sadler. “It's not badly drafted at all, it's very clear cut. You can't hunt wild mammals with dogs. It's pretty simple stuff really; you can't steal something that doesn't belong to you, you can't smoke cannabis, you can't hunt wild mammals with dogs”.  And whether this changes in the future or not, that is the way the law stands at present.                              Lucy-Ann Huskisson 2012

CREATING SANCTUARIES

With ACIG investigators and supporters up and down our country working hard to expose, prosecute and end illegal hunting there is another area in which we can all work to restrict the hunts. We can strive to ban potentially illegal hunting from as much land as possible. Joe Hashman has supported our work for many years. A courageous hunt saboteur and hunt monitor he did more than most to finish the barbaric and violent New Forest Buckhounds. He has turned his hand to authorship with a series of well received green gardening books. His latest project is outlined below. I am pleased to recommend this idea. Every acre of land banned to the hunt and effectively enforced will keep the hunt away from far more than that acre, because they can never be certain of controlling their hounds. Over to Joe:-

HOUNDS OFF

Hounds Off encourages the creation of hunt-free sanctuaries to stop the illegal hunting of wild animals with dogs in Britain. The public face of Hounds Off is our website, www.houndsoff.co.uk . By following the simple process explained there, involving Warning Off notices being sent to the hunters, Hounds Off is spearheading a campaign which invites everyone to join in regardless of who you are or where you live.

Since September 2011, almost 500 acres of land are known to have been made out of bounds to bloodsports, affecting 34 Hunts nationwide. In reality the figure could be far higher because we have no system for monitoring Warning Off emails and letters sent by individuals. Hounds Off encourages autonomous action. We deliberately make no demands regarding feedback or membership.

Following 26 complaints regarding Hunt trespass, Hounds Off offered practical advice and support in warning Hunts off land in twelve different counties, including:

  • 170 acres lost to North Ledbury Hunt after alpacas were attacked by hounds.
  • East Studdal, near Dover, forbidden to West Street Tickham Hunt following a hunt invasion and fox killing in the village.
  • At least seven Dorset properties banned to Portman Hunt in weekend of action, 22/23 October.
  • Securing hunt-free zone status for a Yorkshire property where the family cat was killed in December following trespass by Staintondale Hunt.
  • 15 Kentish acres forbidden to Ashford Valley Hunt including woodland inhabited by foxes.
  • Over 300 acres in Somerset and Dorset confirmed as Hunt-free, affecting both the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt and South & West Wilts Hunt.

Hounds Off is supported by individuals and organisations from across the campaigning and political spectrum. Please visit our website. Take action. Tell your family and friends to do the same. Support the Hunting Ban. Support Hounds Off. Be part of the people’s campaign against bloodsports.

www.houndsoff.co.uk  Email: hounds.off@hotmail.co.uk                               Joe Hashman, July 2012

Talks

On January 16th I was delighted to give a talk about bloodsports to a combined class of about 50 10 to 11-year-old pupils at St. Andrew’s Primary School, Soham. I gave a similar talk to a school in Sutton, Bedfordshire on June 21st and on July 3rd I spoke at the SEAR meeting in Croydon. I really enjoy giving these talks so please contact us if you hear of anyone seeking a speaker.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You are welcome to quote anything in our literature in letters to the media or to politicians.

FINANCES

You will see from our financial report that last year was very difficult. It is perhaps no surprise that in these times of financial austerity our income has fallen. We have had to draw deeply on reserves but thankfully we have that money. Your continued support for our work is really appreciated. Thank you.

VALUABLES THAT CAN BE SOLD

We regularly do car boot sales to raise funds for our work and would greatly appreciate anything saleable that you can send us or that I can collect. We are also booking campaigning stalls at animal welfare events and have just booked to be at the following: Saturday 25th August: Animal welfare event at Uckfield, East Sussex; Saturday 1st September: Wildlife Rocks event at Guildford Cathedral; Sunday 2nd December: Animal Aid's Christmas Fayre at Kensington Town Hall. It would be lovely to meet up with any supporters at these events.

SHARES IN COMPASSION

To help fund our education work please consider taking up a “share” in support of the Animal Welfare Information Service. Each share is a standing order of £1 a month or £12 a year. Please complete the necessary box on the supporter form and I will send you the mandate.

LEGACIES

You have seen after many years of ACIG successes that we have a proven ability to win for animals. For anyone considering remembering the vital investigation work of the ACIG in their will, to enable us to continue to achieve, I respectfully suggest using the following form of bequest:

“I bequeath unto the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group of P.O. Box 8, Halesworth, Suffolk,

IP19 0JL, the sum of ............................. free of tax and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the group shall be a good and sufficient discharge of such legacy.”

Neither the ACIG nor its sister group, the AWIS, is a charity. We have given a lot of thought to and taken legal advice on making one or other, or perhaps both, of these groups a charity but as yet we have not done so. Whilst many animal rescue centres are charities most of the large campaigning animal welfare groups are not. Like them we are at present unwilling to restrict our campaigning activities which would be the inevitable result of taking on charitable status. Please do not allow your solicitor to discourage you from leaving your money to whomsoever you wish, whether they are a charity or not.

IN MEMORIAM

Tragically, far too many people working for animals have suffered appallingly at the hands of the abusers. Several have paid the ultimate price. They will never be forgotten. The memory of their sacrifice should inspire us all to do much more for the cause that we know to be just. ALL who give their lives for animals are remembered but we do particularly recall the following whose lives were taken by our opponents:-

James Piper, RSPCA Inspector : Died in 1838 after sustaining severe injuries tackling cockfighters at Hanworth, Middlesex.

William Sweet, LACS member : Murdered 6/1/1976 after altercation with man shooting birds. Assailant was jailed for life but has long been released.

Fernando Pereira, Greenpeace photographer : Murdered 10/7/1985 by the French Secret Service when the vessel “Rainbow Warrior” was sunk by two explosions, Auckland Harbour, New Zealand.

Michael Hill, Hunt Saboteur : Killed 9/2/1991 protesting against hare hunting at the Cheshire Beagles.

Thomas Worby, Hunt Saboteur : Killed 3/4/1993 protesting against fox hunting at the Cambridgeshire Foxhounds.

Jill Phipps, Animal Rights Activist : Killed 1/2/1995 protesting against live exports of farm animals, Coventry Airport.

Paola Quartini, animal activist for LIPU (Italian League for Bird Protection - UK) from Genoa, Italy and Elvio Fichera, a volunteer for the Association of Abandoned Animals :  Both were murdered 12/5/2010 whilst trying, with police, to serve a warrant on Renzo Castagnola for cruelty to animals. Renzo Castagnola shot them dead, then injured his wife, then killed himself.

 

Tough financial times make it tough for animals and the environment. Animals are booted out or dumped on rescue centres. Some waste centres are closed to save money so old fridges and televisions are heaved over hedges. The abuse and mistreatment of wildlife is rampant. The much persecuted badger is literally in the firing line again. Another hunting season is about to start. What a squalid pastime that is as some creep about our woods and fields trying to evade the law by creating “accidents” of death. One highly revered Huntsman has just been jailed for raping a hunt supporter. It says it all. We will be stepping up our campaigns and working with colleagues in other groups to win for compassion. Your continued support is precious. If we can e-mail you our bulletins, and don’t already, please let us know. Thank you.                                                                                                                 Editor July 2012

Animal Cruelty Investigation Group, PO Box 8, HALESWORTH, Suffolk. IP19 0JL

E-mail: acig@btinternet.com                                                                                                                                              Web site: www.acigawis.org.uk



            ANIMAL WELFARE INFORMATION SERVICE                                                                                                              

NEWS BULLETIN 40

May 2015

What a depressing result the election on May 7th brought, all the more so because right to the last day it was so unexpected. I had campaigned hard both on the streets in our Waveney constituency and on the streets in Derby North where my good friend Chris Williamson was defending a narrow majority for Labour. Sadly Chris lost by just 41 votes.

We could have plenty of recriminations about who could and should have done more in the campaign or who voted 'wrongly' etc. etc. but it would be divisive and serve little purpose. I would offer just two thoughts. David Cameron was elected not because he loves seeing animals killed for fun but despite that fact. Secondly the election was but one more battle in the long war to protect animals. Yes, it was a major setback but surely we all knew that someday there would be a majority Conservative Government? We will have to learn to live with the situation - and work extra hard to ensure that animals do not die because of it. We should draw strength from the fact that May 7th was only an election for politicians - it was not a referendum on the way that animals are treated in the UK. There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority passionately oppose the likes of fox, stag and hare hunting and hare coursing. We now have to find new avenues of campaigning to harness this strength of feeling to protect our wildlife.

 

OUTFOXED PLUS ONE

Moving beyond the depressing news of the election this is my major positive news to report. I have at long last after many years of cajoling decided to issue a reprint of my old book Outfoxed that was published in 1983 and is long out of stock. This book detailed my work as an active hunt saboteur and animal rights campaigner throughout the 1970s and my undercover work to expose hunting from 1981 to 1983.

Here is a review that was published in the Guardian August 11th 1984:-

A COUNTRY DIARY

MACHYNLLETH: At last a book about hunting that doesn’t leave me entirely depressed. It is called Outfoxed, but despite the title it takes us off to tear not only foxes to pieces but also deer, hare and mink, all of which no doubt thoroughly enjoy the fun. The book is certainly original. Its author, Mike Huskisson, is a hunt saboteur who had the daring idea of getting right inside the hunting scene by pretending to be a real sporting character. For two years he attended meet after meet, getting to know the hunting people and gradually winning their confidence in order to witness exactly what they got up to behind the scenes. So now he can tell us in full gory detail what goes on beneath the well dressed and o, so jolly facade of hunting. He gives us a lively account of everything he discovered plus some vivid word pictures of leading members of the sporting world. But perhaps most telling of all, he was seldom without a camera and was able to take the sort of photographs that never appear in sporting literature. For far too long, hunting, patronised by the very best people, has had a marvellous press. So it is only right that now and then we get a book like this to redress the balance a little by shedding light on the bloodsports mentality. A well written and often entertaining piece of writing, it runs to 189 pages with plenty of photographs in black and white and colour. Outfoxed is a soft-back published by Michael Huskisson Associates, 83 Union Street. London. SF11.

WILLIAM CONDRY

Because it will be re-written in parts and updated to include an epilogue reference to the passing of the Hunting Act 2004 it will be called “Outfoxed plus one” – or something similar. My work from 1984 onwards to infiltrate and expose cruelty could then be described in a later volume – “Outfoxed plus two”.

Outfoxed may be old but the cruelty at the point where hounds face their quarry never changes. It is important that people, particularly youngsters, are aware of the savagery that lurks behind the glamorous façade of hunting. If you agree with me please can you help with making this new publication possible? Outfoxed plus one will be self-published by our Animal Welfare Information Service and to help fund the printing costs I am seeking 50 supporters prepared to pay £50 each now. In return you will get a complimentary copy of the book that I can sign personally for you in any way you wish. The book is likely to retail at something like £14.99 in paperback plus postage and packing charges. I am working towards a publication date of November 1st 2015. I had aimed to be just in time to cajole a hopefully sympathetic new Government to upgrade the Hunting Act but the election outcome has put an end to all such positive thoughts. Now we will be doing all that we can to retain the Hunting Act. A reprint of Outfoxed to remind people of the cruelty inherent in bloodsports will be another weapon in our armoury.

All money received for this project will be held in a separate fund so that if in the very unlikely event that anything goes wrong and the publication never happens the money will simply be returned to you.

I am already working very hard on this project - working on the text and gathering extra photographs to include. Can you help me see it through to publication? Please send cheques payable to Animal Welfare Information Service (or simply AWIS) or you can pay the £50 by bank transfer using the following account details: Account name: AWIS ;  Sort code: 20-92-08 ;  Account number: 70490989. [This appeal was sent out originally in our e-mail circular on April 25th 2015. After that appeal 17 pledges of £50 were received. This was an excellent response but still leaves me seeking 33 more. Any further help would be really appreciated.]

 

AWIS TALKS

I am pleased to report that since our last news bulletin I have been able to give a couple of talks about our work. The first on Sunday April 19th was at the end of season meeting of colleagues at Norfolk/Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs. These are an excellent group who work so hard to protect the wildlife of Norfolk and Suffolk throughout the year. I have worked with them on many occasions. The routine is simple: we monitor the local hunts. If the hunters obey the Hunting Act we watch and leave them alone. If they start breaking the law and hunting animals illegally we intervene directly to protect wildlife. We also cooperate closely with our local police and were on hand on January 24th to witness the incredible when following a meet of the Waveney Harriers a Norfolk police sergeant seeing the hunt unable to control their hounds and as a result hunting illegally advised them to go home - and they did so. This was a landmark event in the enforcement of the Hunting Act.

Then on Saturday May 23rd I was delighted to give a short talk at the AGM of the Hare Preservation Trust at Milton Malsor near Northampton about my work - spanning many years - to protect hares. I then manned a stall for the ACIG/AWIS at the subsequent Harefest at the same venue at which I was able to talk about our campaigns to many interested members of the public.

 

INTERNET WORK

In the run-in to the election I really stepped up our campaigning work on the Internet. Every day for months I posted a snippet of information about animal abuse, an image or a link to a video clip or shared another post on my Facebook page. With having some 1900 'friends' on Facebook these posts were widely read and often shared in turn.

I also uploaded a lot of video clips to our YouTube channel. These are taken from our own videos, from videos filmed by colleagues and from old TV programmes. Some of them cover investigations reported in Outfoxed. If you have access to a computer you can easily access them via this link:-

https://www.youtube.com/user/AWISACIG

Please take a look and then share and circulate the link amongst your friends and colleagues who might be interested and might be keen to support our work.

 

LEGACIES

For anyone considering remembering the vital educational work of the AWIS in their will I respectfully suggest using the following form of bequest:

I bequeath unto the Animal Welfare Information Service of P.O. Box 8, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 0JL, the sum of .............................. free of tax and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the group shall be a good and sufficient discharge of such legacy.”

 

We will now be working harder than ever to spread the full facts about the cruel abuse of animals. They cannot speak for themselves to tell of the horrors that they endure. We have to do that for them and with your continued support we will. Hopefully by the time of our next AWIS news bulletin I will have copies of Outfoxed Plus One available for sale. In the meantime have a wonderful summer. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.                                                                             Editor. May 2015

A.W.I.S., PO BOX 8, HALESWORTH, SUFFOLK. IP19 0JL                                                                  

Web site: www.acigawis.org.uk   E-mail: acig@btinternet.com




              ANIMAL WELFARE INFORMATION SERVICE                                                                                           

NEWS BULLETIN 34

May 2012

MAILING CHANGES

The latest rise in postage costs, making the price of a second class letter 50p, has caused us to rethink the whole way in which we communicate with supporters of both the AWIS and its parent group, the Animal Cruelty Investigation Group (ACIG).

Since June 1989 we have been mailing to ACIG supporters twice a year. We have been doing the same to AWIS supporters since May 1995. Supporters of both groups receive four mailings a year. In addition to the postage costs of each mailing there is the cost of printing, the cost of envelopes and mailing labels. In total it costs some £2000 a year to send our literature by post.

There is also the length of time it takes to stuff the envelopes, address them with labels and stamp them. The use of paper has also meant a significant cost to the environment.

There is now an alternative way to communicate with supporters – namely by e-mail. For some years now we have asked supporters for their e-mail addresses. Being in e-mail contact has allowed us to communicate quickly with supporters and we have used that facility with our “Action for Compassion” e-mail circulars calling on supporters to participate in particular campaigns. This has proved to be an effective means of communication.

For some time now some supporters have also asked to receive their News Bulletins by e-mail and we have been pleased to send them that way. Not only does sending bulletins by e-mail save us time and money it also gives the benefit to the supporter of receiving all News Bulletins with colour photographs (except where the original was black and white) and they receive them quicker and with more certainty (none are “lost in the post”).

This latest rise in the cost of second class stamps is the last straw. We are in e-mail contact with hundreds of supporters and we have just contacted them asking their thoughts about receiving all future mailings from both the ACIG and the AWIS by e-mail. Many have replied and to date everyone is in agreement. Supporters recognise that the money and time saved here could be better spent on our valuable education and campaigning work.

There is a slight downside in that there always appears to be a loss of income associated with internet requests as opposed to direct mailings of paper appeals. Somehow it is easier to respond to something held in your hand rather than read on the computer screen. However that is a challenge that we seek to overcome by making our future internet appeals all the more imaginative!!

THE FUTURE

The way forward for your contact with your AWIS and ACIG is as follows:-

 

1). IF YOU USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: have you sent us your current preferred e-mail address? If you would like to receive future mailings by e-mail please be sure that you have sent us your current e-mail address. If you are in e-mail contact with us but would still like to receive your mailings through the letter post please tell us, otherwise we will e-mail them to you. News Bulletins will be sent as attachments as both Word and pdf documents to allow ease of opening.

 

2). IF YOU DO NOT USE THE E-MAIL SYSTEM OR HAVE ANY EASY ACCESS TO IT THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO YOU: if you have sent either the ACIG or the AWIS any donation or any communication within the last two years you do not have to do anything – we will continue to mail to you by post as before. If however we have heard nothing from you for over two years and we are not in e-mail contact with you please contact us now by post or by phone or we will very reluctantly have to delete your mailing card and you will hear nothing further from us. We need your continued support and as a final effort to retain it we will try to phone you if we have your number but if all our efforts fail sadly we will lose contact.

Over the many years of our successful campaigning we have accumulated a number of shall we say “redundant” addresses.  After most mailings we get a few irate phone calls along the lines: “Don’t you realise that this person moved away four years ago!” We politely reply that no we did not realise that, if we had realised, we would have stopped mailing! Because we receive some anonymous donations, say a £20 note sent in with an unidentifiable supporter form, we have not been able to simply delete the mailing cards of supporters that we have not heard from for years. The anonymous donor could be one of those. Updating our mailing list so that we e-mail as many as possible and only post to supporters, and not to empty houses or old addresses, has been put off for far too long. The time for this essential action is now.

Thank you so much for your patience and for your help with this. It will make our operating systems much more efficient and effective.

In the short term we expect to see a dual mailing system as some supporters receive mailings by e-mail whilst others receive their mailings through the post. In time the proportions will change as more and more are able to access the e-mail systems.

I have to confess that at times I find the speed of change in the modern world quite bewildering. However at a cost of 50p a stamp, or to people of my generation 10 shillings, we have to embrace such changes if to do so will save funds, save time and be a whole lot greener!!!

I will shortly be writing in similar fashion to our ACIG supporters but of course any replies to this communication will also have effect for ACIG mailings. You will not need to write to us twice!!

AWIS INFORMATION

Here is some good news for supporters we are in e-mail contact with. In the coming months I will be working towards creating a system whereby I will be able to circulate a link to you to allow you to access some of our archived photograph library. If this works to plan I will have a version of the slides that I used to use for talks available online with identifying captions for all supporters to see and perhaps more importantly available for supporters to forward on to friends and colleagues. In this way we could use the undoubted power of the Internet to recruit new support.

AWIS TALKS

On Monday 16th January I was delighted to be invited to give a talk about bloodsports to a combined class of about 50 10 to 11-year-old pupils at St. Andrew’s Primary School, Soham. This was very well received and I think that I can say with certainty that nearly every child asked at least one question. I have another talk booked at another school in the near future. For a while it seemed that the opportunity to give such talks had passed but it is welcome to see the requests coming back again.

LEGACIES

For anyone considering remembering the vital informative work of the AWIS in their will I respectfully suggest using the following form of bequest:

I bequeath unto the Animal Welfare Information Service of P.O. Box 8, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 0JL, the sum of .............................. free of tax and I direct that the receipt of an authorised officer of the group shall be a good and sufficient discharge of such legacy.”

Neither the AWIS nor its sister group, the ACIG, is a charity. We have given a lot of thought to and taken legal advice on making one or other, or perhaps both, of these groups a charity but as yet we have not done so. Whilst many animal rescue centres are charities most of the large campaigning animal welfare groups are not. Like them we are at present unwilling to restrict our campaigning activities which would be the inevitable result of taking on charitable status. Please do not allow your solicitor to discourage you from leaving your money to whomsoever you wish, whether they are a charity or not.

 

I wish all supporters a happy, peaceful and warm summer. I am sorry to thrust these changes upon you but they have been forced upon us and we have to react. We do so in a positive manner. I look forward to being able to push out more information, quickly and at little cost and thereby enhance our campaigning abilities. I promise, again, that we will not be pestering supporters for donations. We never have and we never will. All I ask is that if you have not contacted us in some way in the last two years you contact us now to tell us how you would like to receive your future mailings. I look forward to hearing from you!!!

Our next bulletin will be written in the depths of the Autumn. Thank you so much for your continued support for our work.                                                                                           

Editor. May 2012

A.W.I.S., PO BOX 8, HALESWORTH, SUFFOLK. IP19 0JL                                                                

Web site: www.acigawis.org.uk   E-mail: acig@btinternet.com