"It's not the police we've got to watch, it's the antis with their video cameras."
Graham Bridgeman - Chairman of the Eggesford Hunt.
Hunt Monitoring explained
Hunt monitoring is an activity undertaken by concerned individuals who want to see the UK Parliament’s Hunting Act upheld and endeavor to bring the persecutors of our wildlife to justice.
The Hunting Act, banning hunting in England and Wales, became law in February 2005. This ban was achieved through the work of many campaigners over almost a century. In recent times the work of hunt monitors became central to the campaign, as monitors use video cameras to film the cruelty and chaos involved in hunting. The filmed evidence they collected was shown in the media, and to MPs, and proved conclusively that a ban on this barbaric activity was urgently needed.
Before the ban even came into force, around 50,000 hunters signed a "Declaration", stating that they would break any such law should it come onto the Statute Book. Local newspapers were invited to hunting rallies in order to publicise the signing of this Declaration. On the Declaration form were printed these words:
"Consequently we the undersigned declare our intention peacefully to disobey any law purporting to ban hunting" It also included this: "Please enclose a cheque for £10 made out to Hunting Declaration.' saying that this would be used to fund "...a national advertising campaign to ensure our message gets wide coverage."
After the law came into force, it immediately became clear to the Hunt Monitors that the hunters were indeed carrying out their threat to break the law, and so they have been forced to continue monitoring in order to collect evidence to put before the authorities to try and get acts of illegal hunting prosecuted.
It has been far from easy. Hunt monitors are routinely subjected to threats, assault, damage to their cars, cameras and radios, as well as foul verbal abuse, obstruction and intimidation. While tackling illegal hare coursing fairly consistently, the police and Crown Prosecution Services have shown a marked reluctance to act against the organized hunts
However, at last some of the large hunts are being taken to Court, and convicted of illegal hunting.
The Meynell and South Staffordshire were found guilty of illegal hunting, with their hunt master and terrierman both convicted at Derby Magistrates Court in August 2012.
In May 2012 three members of the Crawley & Horsham Hunt were found guilty of illegal hunting. In 2011, the Huntsman and terrierman of the Fernie Hunt were found guilty of illegal hunting.
In December 2012 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) took out a private prosecution, using evidence collected by independent hunt monitors, against the Heythrop Hunt Limited. This was a major landmark case, as it was the first time a hunt has been prosecuted as a corporate body. The Heythrop Hunt, their Huntsman and their Senior Master all pleaded guilty to four charges of illegally hunting a fox.
The reason these hunts have been successfully prosecuted and convicted is, in every case, because of the hunt monitors, whose footage of their illegal activities has provided the evidence needed to bring these people to justice. It is very encouraging that, at last, the sterling efforts of the monitors are beginning to show results in the Courts.
The monitors are mostly independent individuals who are unpaid and self-funded. The petrol costs alone are extremely high, as are the costs of cameras, films, memory cards, CB radios etc., therefore monitors rely on donations given to them through social media sites like GoFundMe and their Facebook page.
The law applies to everyone
The hunting law is regularly and deliberately broken up and down the country, but licensing hunt monitors could help prevent this.
It is a fundamental principle of democracy that citizens obey the law or incur whatever penalty applies to its breaking. The hunting law was passed after not weeks or months but, literally, years of debate and it was passed by a large majority of the elected chamber.
Yet on Wednesday of last week I showed a film to an audience, which included representatives of 11 police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and MPs, demonstrating that the law is being broken up and down the country......read more
Monitors help keep Hunt legal
Ann Widdecombe: Published: Wed, August 31, 2011
The most telling aspect of the prosecution of the huntsman Julian Barnfield for illegal foxhunting is that the evidence wasn’t gathered by a hard pressed police but by hunt monitors, an intrepid small band of mainly elderly people who film hunt activities.
While there is no suggestion in this case of intimidation, monitors endure harassment and even assault from hunters. It was thanks to their meticulous filming that a monitor was acquitted of manslaughter when he moved his helicopter off too soon. The jury saw in all its detail the threatening and frightening conduct of a man whom the hunt had tried to portray as a gentle soul who went up to the helicopter to “reason” with the monitors.
These monitors go out often without a policeman in sight and are very vulnerable, yet they still go. Without their evidence it’s unlikely the law would be policed at all. If we want to make sure that hunting keeps within the law then what better way is there than to attach monitors to every hunt? After all if the hunt is indeed law-abiding then it has nothing to fear.
Dramatic rescue captured on film
A young vixen owes her life to the quick thinking and courage of a hunt monitor who literally dived in and grabbed her from amongst the hounds that were just about to maul her to death..
The young woman was out monitoring the Old Berks Fox Hounds who met at Elmwood House, Black Bourton in Oxfordshire. Not long after the hunt moved off , the Huntsman sent the hound pack into woodland and thick undergrowth. The hounds found the fox in scrub next to large slurry tanks on the edge of a farm.
Fortunately for the fox, her "guardian angel" was only feet away. With no thought for her own safety, the monitor shouted at the hounds as they closed in on the fox, and running forward, was able to snatch the terrified animal.
She then scooped her up, away from amongst the hounds, which would in moments have undoubtedly torn the young animal to pieces. The fox had already been bowled over onto her back, leaving her stomach exposed.
Despite having been bitten by the terrified fox, the monitor hurried the traumatised animal away, cradled in her arms, whilst her colleague, who filmed the whole incident, called for help.
Being followed by a Hunt participant, they reached a fellow monitor's car and the fox was then driven away to safety. She was checked for injuries, and thanks to the monitor's lightening reactions, was found to have no serious bites.
The fox has now been rehabilitated into an area where she will be safe from the hunt.