Unguarded talk and gossip from hunt supporters is providing antis with vital intelligence, the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has said.

The League told H&H it is receiving up to 10% of its information from people either within hunts or close to them.

Steve Taylor from LACS said he was “amazed” at how forthcoming hunt supporters could be.

“A great deal of information comes from what you might call ‘unusual’ sources,” he said.

“We get a lot of good tip-offs from people within hunts. It’s stuff they don’t realise is useful to us – ‘we meet every Wednesday in one of these three places at this time’ – that sort of thing.

“Ten years ago you’d get 10 times the number of meets advertised in Horse & Hound. You don’t get that now, and hunts don’t tend to publicise meets on their websites.”

He said that LACS also gleans information from social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook – and from online forums.

H&H reported last month that LACS is intending to increase its activities this season (news, 15 September) and has recruited a former Special Branch police officer to lead its intelligence section. LACS said the work will include infiltration of hunts.

Mr Taylor also said LACS would publish the findings of a “major investigation” at the end of the month – with help from hunt supporters.

“Most of the intelligence we worked from came from people within or close to hunts,” he said.

So should hunt followers be wary of loose talk?

Tim Bonner of the Hunting Office says he has no problem with hunts publicising their activities and meets.

“It is a difficult judgement,” he told H&H. “The antis would love to drive us underground, but we are out and proud.

“Hunts are working within the law and are perfectly entitled to publicise meets.

“We wouldn’t suggest that people should hide.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (13 October, 2011)