How blood on the box may save the old fox: A hi-tech squad called the Hunt Monitors is out to capture the fox killers on film, writes Nicholas Roe

Share
Related Topics
FORGET the toot of horns and the howl of baying dogs - a new sound is about to permeate the traditional atmosphere of British hunting. It goes something like this: gadump, gadump, gadump . . . whirr. And it is likely to bring a chill to the spines of hunt supporters all over the country once they understand what it is.

What we have here is the sound of horses galloping and camcorders whirring. Those who believe that killing for fun is sad, bad and just plain silly have decided to bring their fight out of the field and into our living-rooms. On video.

The League Against Cruel Sports, which has long campaigned against 'Establishment' huntin' values, is to train up a kind of ethical police force, called Hunt Monitors, who will chase the chasers and record what they do. The Hunt Monitors will not be dressed in rumpled jumpers or hand-woven New Age togs. They will be in uniform, wearing identical yellow tabards with the league's name plastered over the front and back.

They will carry identity cards and will be trained in legal matters, so they will know exactly what they can and cannot do in the countryside (a complex matter these days). The squad also plans to remain stoical in the face of taunts; they will be instructed neither to get in the way of, nor even hurl abuse at, the hunting fraternity.

The question is, could the humble camcorder possibly do the trick when other methods (from politics to violence) have failed? Well, yes, possibly.

Take the broad view. The league wants us to discard cold logic for feeling. It is a tactic that has worked before. The animal rights movement has produced video scoops that have shocked the nation. Remember Terry Hill? He was the man who sneaked into the Shamrock laboratories near Brighton in 1991, emerging with film of captive monkeys that formed the basis for a World In Action programme on animal cruelty.

Before that, there was Mike Huskisson who in 1990 secretly filmed the late Professor Wilhelm Feldberg subjecting rabbits to painful experiments at the National Institute for Medical Research. Television lapped it up. Feldberg lost his licence to experiment on animals.

The Quorn Hunt also suffered memorably from video shots in 1991 of a fox being dug out and released in front of the hounds. The hunt was found to be in breach of the Masters' of Foxhounds Association rules and was censured - following massive TV coverage of the incident.

Britain's couch potatoes love to watch wildlife on television and, although they hate animal cruelty, appear horribly fascinated by blood and guts in full colour. Any campaign that provides a regular diet of all three elements - as hunting should - is likely to appeal to local and national television stations. 'If we can show people what really happens at a hunt there will be a national outcry,' argues James Barrington, the league's chief executive. 'If hunts put a foot wrong in the morning (by infringing their own code of conduct or wildlife law), it will be on television in the afternoon,' he says.

Look at it this way. How many of us have seen a fox die in agony? Few, probably. For some, the hunt is a still, sweet shot of red riding jackets and stirrup cups on a cold Boxing Day morning. Human instinct, the league logic runs, will be touched by simple reality. So that's hunting, we may cry as we reach for our pen and paper.

Last winter the league deployed Hunt Monitors in the West Country with some success. But the scale of the current initiative is quite new. The plan is to cover every area of the country - probably every one of Britain's 321 hunting hound packs. And some of that footage has just got to end up on television.

The irony is that the Hunt Monitors scheme is a consequence of recent official efforts to curb the anti-hunting lobby once and for all. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill creates an offence of aggravated trespass designed to stymie hunt saboteurs whose activities have become less effective and more controversial in recent years.

What will happen to all that pent-up fury when the Bill becomes law? There have been two deaths caused by hunting disputes in the past five years and the increasing employment of 'security firms' in the countryside seems certain to produce more violence next season.

The league's initiative is a cunning ploy; it is redrawing its front line on its own terms. It is saying: forget the law, it isn't enough. Forget logic, it is too dry. Even forget the satisfaction of simple sabotage - it is inefficient, and it hurts too much. Look instead, the league will insist, at all this blood.

Who can possibly complain? Certainly not the British Field Sports Society which recently ran a pounds 5-a-head 'hunt experience' scheme to encourage children to enter the field on its side. It has lifted the top off a sport it wishes to preserve. Now the league is pushing further. We will all have to decide for ourselves whether we like what we see when that happens.

(Photograph omitted)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most