Guilty plea to Hunting Act offence - Huntsman fined after admitting illegally hunting a fox
The Huntsman of the Seavington Hunt today admitted an offence of hunting a fox with dogs at Yeovil Magistrates’ Court.
Huntsman David Parker (18/1/74) of Seavington St Mary, Ilminster pleaded guilty to the Hunting Act offence which took place in the area around Causeway Lane, Winsham in Dorset in January 2013.
He was sentenced to pay a £500 fine, £500 costs plus a £50 victim surcharge.
The court heard that two wildlife crime investigators from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) were filming the Hunt on the Dorset/Somerset border when they saw a fox bolt from where hounds were searching scrub area. The Huntsman then blew the horn and engaged the hounds in pursuing the fox. The hounds were not called off and the pursuit ended at an earth where the fox apparently managed to escape*.
The footage clearly shows the fox fleeing across the field, with the hounds following shortly after.
The IFAW investigators presented the footage to the RSPCA and the decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors as there was sufficient and clear evidence to satisfy the evidential test in the Code.
RSPCA inspector Jo Daniel said: “The footage, provided by IFAW, clearly shows the members of the hunting party searching the area, along with the hounds, before the fox fled and the huntsman pursued it.
“We cannot stand by whilst laws which are there to protect wild animals are broken and if sufficient evidence is provided to us we have an obligation to act to prevent further such offences from occurring.”
Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Hunting a fox with hounds is a cruel and illegal activity and IFAW’s monitors will remain vigilant to ensure anyone committing such offences is brought before the court."
Notes to editors
*The charge was one of hunting a wild mammal, namely a fox, with dogs contrary to Section 1 of the Hunting Act 2004 and that hunting was not of a class exempted by schedule 1 of the Act. The offence is made out by the deliberate pursuit of a fox with dogs – the fox does not have to be killed or maimed.
A clip of the footage can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/17VfEwQ