In a move welcomed by Keep The Ban, a police force in the county of Gloucestershire have launched a new operation in an attempt to deal with illegal fox hunting in the region. The Rural Crime Team have named the new approach "Operation Hunt" and have claimed to be 'proactively patrolling the countryside' following mounting evidence that hunts have been deliberately and intentionally killing wildlife as opposed to following artificial scent trails as they claim. It is believed that drones and quad bikes will be utilised as part of the new approach to tackling the issue of illegal wildlife crime in the county.

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire Constabulary's Rural Crime Team told GloucestershireLive that “Operation Hunt (is) our commitment to tackling allegations of wildlife persecution and allegations of illegal fox hunting. Over the coming months we will be proactively patrolling the countryside, monitoring and liaising with all interested parties.”

Gloucestershire is the home of some of the country's most prolific and longest running hunts such as the Beaufort Hunt. Only last month Keep The Ban released the outcome of a several months long investigation conducted by the Hunt Investigation Team which showed members of this hunt shooting dead several of their hounds at their kennels near Badminton.

Clearly there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to policing hunts across the country but it is positive to see that this police force is taking a more proactive approach. Week in week out hunts not only in the county of Gloucestershire but up and down the whole of the UK continue to break the 2004 Hunting Act and illegally hunt and will wildlife. One of the main coverups used by hunts is the notion of "trail hunting". This is where hunts claim to be following an artificial scent as opposed to pursuing a live mammal but this is nothing but a lie. Trails are very rarely ever laid by hunts and even when they are put down it is only for show so that they have a legal defence if and when hounds pick up the scent of a real animal and kill it.

Image: Weymouth Animal Rights

Only last weekend several foxes were killed by hunts in both England and Wales. The South Dorset Hunt killed two foxes and would have killed two more had it not been for Weymouth Animal Rights who were on the scene. Footage released by the group on social media this weekend showed the point at which hounds tore the poor animal to pieces. It is evident that more visible and less bias policing is needed if hunts are to be deterred from illegal fox hunting.

According to the Rural Crime Team in Gloucestershire they have already began 'Operation Hunt' and  “During the tour, four active badger setts were unblocked having been alerted to their location by hunt monitors. Blocking setts is illegal and suspects will be prosecuted".

Keep The Ban continues to call for the 2004 Hunting Act to be strengthened and for the existing loopholes to be removed. You can sign our petition here to strengthen the ban on fox hunting.

Rob Pownall

Founder of Keep The Ban

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