The Fitzwiliam Hunt have been caught on film blocking badger setts at a meet less than an hour before the hunt. The covert footage was captured by the brilliant Peterborough Hunt Sabs (you can support them here) and appears to show terriermen interfering with badger setts on 17th November in Washingley, 5 miles south of Peterborough.

Image: Peterborough Hunt Sabs

As reported by Peterborough Hunt Sabs, "this is done to any sett entrances in woods to be hunted that day" and the aim is to "prevent a fox hiding underground and to ensure a longer chase and eventual kill". This activity is illegal under the Protection of Badgers Act and is incredibly cruel to both badgers and foxes. It is perhaps some of the strongest evidence of illegal fox hunting because if hunts were indeed "trail hunting" like they claim then there would be absolutely no reason for terriermen to be blocking badger setts. Of course we know that "trail hunting" is nothing but a "smokescreen" for illegal fox hunting and this video footage is yet further evidence to back this up.

Footage goes on to show hounds running over the blocked badger sets just an hour or so later.

Image: Peterborough Hunt Sabs

Unsurprisingly and indeed reassuringly, major landowners are starting to wake up to these lies and have started to ban so-called "trail hunts" from using their land. Only yesterday Natural Resources Wales permanently ended all "trail hunting" on their land which was a great result for wildlife. Meanwhile members of the National Trust voted by 2:1 to end "trail hunt" licences on National Trust land but this vote is still yet to be passed by the board of trustees.

Other landowners such as the Ministry of Defence however are still yet to ban the hunts from their land so it is vital that the pressure is put on them to end their licences with immediate effect.

WHAT ARE TERRIERMEN?

Terriermen are individuals hired by the hunt to carry out three main roles.

-  To dig/flush out foxes that have gone underground to find safety.

-  To block up fox dens and badger set holes to ensure foxes can’t go underground.

-  To intimidate and harass monitors and saboteurs disrupting the hunt.

Terriermen are often seen on quadbikes armed with tools to dig out foxes and usually have a box attached to the rear of the quad bike which contains their terrier dogs.

They are also referred to as ‘countrymen’ by those in the hunting community and often act independently to a hunt. Due to the ‘gamekeepers’ and ‘flushing to guns’ exemptions found in the 2004 Hunting Act, terriermen are still an ever-present fixture of most hunts. Before fox hunting was made illegal, terriermen were traditionally used to fight and flush out foxes that had gone underground.

Of course, the question continues to be asked as to why hunts require the presence of these individuals if they’re simply following an artificial trail as opposed to a live mammal. You can read more about the lie that is ‘trail hunting' here and how it has been used by the hunting community to confuse the general public.

Since the 2004 Hunting Act was introduced not a great deal has changed when it comes to the work of terriermen. The exemptions mentioned previously mean it is difficult for prosecutors to prove that the law has been broken. It is only when the ban is strengthened and these exemptions removed that the terriermen’s days will be numbered.

You can head to our campaign page to find out more about the 2004 Hunting Act and the ways in which you can get involved to help strengthen the existing legislation.

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban

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