LACS footage sparks controversy

  • Edited footage of fox-hunting in upland Wales released by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) on Monday has provoked criticism of the league for releasing misleading evidence and hypocrisy.

    League “investigators” infiltrated the Plas Machynlleth Foxhounds in February and video material has subsequently been released showing theWelsh gun pack at work.

    The league claims that the footage, which has been described by many critics as being heavily edited and misleading, exposes what LACS describes as “the barbarity of hunting in Wales”, including:

    • A pair of hounds fighting a fox
    • A fox trapped by terriers below ground
    • Terriers attacking a fox trapped below ground
    • Terriers being shown the dead fox before it is thrown to the waiting hounds

    In its investigations, LACS cites the incident involving two hounds and a fox as evidence which “explodes the myth that hounds kill foxes with a single nip to the back of the neck”.

    But although footage has been released of the event in question, there have been suggestions that the league’s attitude to animal welfare in this incident is hypocritical and that their depiction of this event is distinctly misleading.

    David Jones, a committee member of the Federation of Welsh Packs explains:
    “The league guy interfered with it a lot. We timed it yesterday, and worked out that once the cameraman stops interfering, the fox is dead in a matter of seconds. Three or four seconds to be precise.”

    Anne Holmes of the LACS admitted that the league had undoubtedly compromised the welfare of the fox. She told HHO: “Sadly, it is almost certainly the case that in this instance, by attempting to intervene, we prolonged the suffering of the fox.”

    Although the league has been happy to release edited footage of its investigations in Wales, thus far, it has refused to make un-edited footage available. Ann Holmes, LACS press officer told HHO that the league was “currently considering who would be an appropriate independent third party to give the un-edited version”

    The Plas Machynlleth Foxhounds have been suspended by the Federation of Welsh Packs (FWP), which is standard practice in such a situation. The Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting (ISAH) will be conducting an inquiry into the matter following an FWP tribunal, which is to take place on Sunday.

    However, the league has said that it would not be making its un-edited video material available to ISAH, an organisation which they believe is “not independent and will not view the footage without prejudice”.

    In fact, ISAH commissioners are wholly independent, and with the exception of an ex-officio commissioner who can provide his co-commissioners with the necessary understanding of practicalities of hunting with dogs, are not allowed to have had anything to do with hunting, and are required to be neither pro- nor anti-hunting.

    Explaining that it was too early to respond to the league’s evidence, David Manley of ISAH says: “The matter will be thoroughly investigated by us following the primary inquiry of the FWP. We cannot make a judgement until we have made a full inquiry and seen all the evidence.”

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