Video footage of the Quantock Staghounds supposedly flouting the hunting ban on Exmoor last Thursday has been handed to police by League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) “monitors”.
This is thought to be the first time the organisation has given what it claims is “hard evidence” to the police. LACS told the Western Daily Press that it filmed a stag being pursued across two fields by up to seven dogs.
Joint-master Brian Palmer told Horse & Hound: “We were hunting legally. Several of us were flushing, using two hounds. We were filmed from two miles away, and some car followers heard the ‘monitors’ say they’d ‘got something’. We hadn’t broken the law, so I told police what had happened anyway.”
Alison Hawes, Countryside Alliance director for the south-west, said: “LACS monitors may have filmed a deer followed by hounds, but they have to prove intent. It’s for the police to investigate — if indeed they decide to do so.
“LACS seems to be concentrating on staghounds — if law-breaking were going on, it would be more obvious when you’re chasing a stag than a fox. But if the best they can find is 2min of ‘evidence’, it just shows that hunts are hunting lawfully.”
LACS claimed on 25 February to be preparing six complaints, using film and eyewitness accounts. But none of these seems to have materialised. A LACS spokesman would not confirm whether the Quantock footage was the first film to be handed in.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police, who have been passed the film by Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Up to now, we’ve received mostly verbal information, where people have seen hounds and horses. Information is mainly from people who don’t understand the legislation — but then, who does? When we’ve looked at complaints, there hasn’t been evidence, and we’ve been able to clear it up [as legal activity].”