WATCH: Protecting foxes in Dorset is a challenge
International Fund for Animal Welfare UK Director, Robbie Marsland, reports in via the video above.
Concerned with the reports I was hearing from the field, I was really keen to join our team of Wildlife Crime Investigators to see for myself the difficult conditions they have to endure whilst out hunt monitoring.
I have been out several times before but the recent reports of our investigators being followed by men in balaclavas, having their vehicles blocked and even allegations of assault, prompted me to go out again as soon as I could.
However, I was surprised to find myself in similar situations that they had described to me. I decided to report what I had seen first hand to show others the reality of monitoring the activities of UK hunts.
I really feel for our team - even more so following my day with them. It is not the fact that they have to put up with long hours in the cold and rain that worries me.
I know they are dedicated professionals who are willing to endure all sorts of conditions to ensure that animals are not cruelly hunted by packs of dogs. It is the fact that it seems there are people out there who want to prevent them doing their job.
If the hunts claim that they are now hunting legally by doing what they call “trail hunting” (i.e. following a laid scent rather than chasing a live fox which is illegal under the Hunting Act 2004), why are there individuals behaving in such a way that it seems they are trying to stop professional hunt monitors witnessing and documenting such supposedly “legal” activities?
If they always hunt legally, surely it would be in their best interest not to hide what they do, and in fact shouldn’t they be welcoming our investigators’ work?
However, I don’t have any evidence to suggest that the leadership of the hunt we investigated approved any of the behaviour I witnessed.
After my experience I immediately wrote to the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner for the area and arranged a meeting with the Assistant Chief Police Officer of Dorset Constabulary to express my concerns.
Hopefully they will take action.