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Duke of Buccleuch Foxhunters Not Guilty In Scotland

A Master and whipper-in, both of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Foxhounds accused in the Jedburgh Sheriff Court on October 8th of breaching Scotland’s fox-hunting laws, were found not guilty by Sheriff Peter Paterson on December 8, 2018.

The five-day trial of Huntsman Timothy Allen, MFH, and whipper-in Shaun Anderson centered on video recordings covertly filmed by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports.

Since no footage of the fox included any images of huntsman Allen, and images of Allen included no images of the fox, the court found there was no case to answer on Allen’s part. Foxhunters in Scotland may lawfully flush a fox to a gun, but are prohibited from chasing them. Allen was told he was free to leave the dock.

Whipper-in Anderson, in his turn, claimed he did all he could to control hounds when the fox emerged. Since Scotland’s Hunting Act prohibits the deliberate pursuit of a fox by hounds, and absent proof of a deliberate chase, Sheriff Paterson found insufficient evidence for a conviction and pronounced Anderson not guilty as well.

The Sheriff went on to criticize the language of the current hunting legislation regarding the search for and flushing of foxes. So what is in the future?

Both pro- and anti-hunting activists in Scotland and England decry the current hunting legislation and recommend changes. Obviously, the legislation changes recommended by each side are incompatible.

Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said he was pleased that both Allen and Anderson had been found not guilty and noted the frustration involved for all when cases end up in court with little or no evidence against them. Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports, declared that the legislation is not fit for the purpose and needs to be strengthened.

Since the Scottish hunting act was introduced sixteen years ago, there has been just one successful prosecution against mounted foxhunting.

Posted December 11, 2018

Duke of Buccleuch Master and Huntsman On Trial

Timothy Allen, MFH and Shaun Anderson, huntsman of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt in Scotland appeared in the Jedburgh Sheriff Court on October 8th on a charge of breaching Scotland’s Protection of Wild Mammals Act by deliberately hunting a fox with a pack of hounds. The pair pled not guilty.

Last year, Johnny Riley and his father John Clive Richardson, MFH of the Jedforest Foxhounds were found guilty of breaching the foxhunting laws. Their conviction was the first under the act since its passage in 2002.

Evidence in the Buccleuch action was given by a director of the League Against Cruel Sports in Scotland. The LACS has engaged teams to covertly film the country’s ten hunts. As in the Jedforest case, video evidence will be the crux of the prosecution’s case. LACS is working to tighten Scotland’s hunting laws.

One sheep farmer in support of the hunt claims to lose at least one hundred lambs every year to foxes, harming his revenue and devastating to the sheep. Three days of evidence have been heard, and the trial has been adjourned until December 4.

Posted October 12, 2018

Six Fox Pens Ordered Closed in Virginia

The Associated Press has reported the closure of six fox pens in the aftermath of an investigation by the Animal Law Unit of the Attorney General’s office in Virginia. Twenty-three fox pens in the Commonwealth remain open.

Nine people pleaded guilty for stocking the pens with illegally purchased wildlife and face fines and suspended sentences. The six pens that had their licenses revoked are located in the counties of Buckingham, Lunenburg, Appomattox, Dinwiddie, King and Queen, and Brunswick. Two are permanently shut down; four could potentially reopen if the verdicts are appealed and overturned.

In general, wildlife may not be purchased and sold in Virginia. Pen owners may legally contract with trappers to provide foxes, compensation for which must be based on the trapper’s time and effort for the service.

A law passed in 2014 is intended to eventually phase out fox penning entirely. No new fox pens may be licensed in Virginia, but the existing pens were grandfathered and eventually will have to close.

Some mounted foxhunting clubs use fox pens to train puppies. The pens are also used by individuals who simply enjoy running their hounds. Foxes are provided with refuges within the pen to allow them to escape hounds when pressed. Licensing rules also limit the number of hounds that may be in a pen at any one time. However, fox pens have been under fire from animal rights activists for years. Other foxhound breeders, night hunters, and field trial enthusiasts are said to use pens for competitions and betting, according to opponents.

Bob Duncan, executive director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said that fox penning is a way to have sport with hounds without the danger of running through crops or causing accidents on the highway. The fox pens are popular, he said, and people come from states all across the country to train and run their dogs.

Posted July 20, 2018

Macron: Revive French Presidential Hunts

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for the tradition of “presidential hunts” to be revived. This in the face of increasing public support for a ban on hunting with hounds. Presidential hunts were abolished in 2010 by then President Nicholas Sarkozy.

One a useful asset in French diplomacy, according to Macron, presidential hunting parties were arranged for visiting world leaders to experience a part of French culture. With almost four hundred registered hunts—more than any other nation—stag and deer hunting still flourishes in France.

“I will be the president who develops hunting,” Macron told a recent meeting of the French Hunters’ Federation, according to David Chazan, writing for The Telegraph.

Presidential hunts grew out of the royal hunts introduced in the late sixteenth century by King Francois I. The hunts were held on the grounds of the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley and in other stately homes.

While a recent poll determined that eighty-four percent of citizens were in favor of a hunting ban as introduced by a far-left politician, an actual ban is deemed unlikely.

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Posted April 3, 2018

Dowling Returns: Will Carry the Horn at Cheshire

ivan dowling.small.jim grahamIvan Dowling photo by Jim GrahamThe Masters and Directors of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds (PA) have announced the return of Ivan Dowling as professional huntsman for the well-respected pack.

Dowling returned to hunt the Cheshire hounds on a temporary basis in February, upon the departure of huntsman Barry Magner, then in his second season. A search committee was established to review other potential applicants but decided instead to propose reviving the hunt’s previous long term relationship with Dowling. The retired huntsman enthusiastically agreed, according to the recent announcement from the hunt.