‘Good riddance, let’s move onto the next one!’: BBC’s Chris Packham’s joy as 200-year-old Atherstone Hunt – accused of violence against animal rights activists – shuts down
- BBC naturalist Chris Packham expressed his joy after Atherstone Hunt shut down
- Group has had 6 years of confrontations with the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs
- Anti-hunting group claim they have been assaulted over years by hunt members
- The Atherstone Hunt announced that it was ceasing hunting activities this year
Chris Packham holds a plant as he joins Extinction Rebellion in September
BBC naturalist Chris Packham has expressed his joy after a historic fox hunting group accused of violence against animal rights activists was shut down.
The 200-year-old Atherstone Hunt has ceased activity following six years of confrontations with the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs.
The anti-hunting group claim they have been assaulted, received death threats, had their cars set on fire and their tyres slashed by hunt members.
The Atherstone Hunt announced it was ceasing hunting on Wednesday, causing Mr Packham to comment: ‘Good riddance, top work. Let’s move onto the next one.’
The group was founded at the beginning of the 19th century and covered 400 square miles in Warwickshire and Leicestershire.
Footage taken at several meets over the last year shows hunt saboteurs clashing with members of the group.
One appears to show one of the hunt members and a demonstrator brawling on a country lane.
In another clip, a member of the hunt appears to make a sexual gesture using a dead goose.
David Graham, spokesman for the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs group – which was set up in 2013 – said the decision marked a historic moment in UK hunt history.
In one clip taking my hunt saboteurs, a member of the hunt appears to make a sexual gesture using a dead goose and flap its wing as if still alive (pictured)
He claimed: ‘We have faced harassment, extreme provocation and regular violence from those associated with the Atherstone Hunt.
‘We’ve received death threats, had our tyres slashed, cars burnt out and have been hospitalized.
‘We have also faced a hostile campaign of police harassment from Leicestershire Police who have actively sabotaged investigations against the Atherstone Hunt whilst constantly seeking to prosecute members of our group at all costs.’
He added: ‘We persevered and never backed down. Despite the regular violence we have faced our campaign has always remained non-violent.
‘Over the last six years we have sabbed almost every single meet of the Atherstone Hunt.’
Fox hunting with dogs has been banned since 2004 amid complaints by animal campaigners.
Footage taken at several meets over the last year shows hunt saboteurs clashing with members of the group
However the ban, which forbids the use of dogs to hunt foxes and other wild mammals in England and Wales, did not end traditional hunts.
Many hunts now follow a scent trail instead of a fox, or work around loopholes in the law.
A spokesman for the Atherstone Hunt, said: ‘We are sad to report that following a hunt committee meeting on Monday, October 7 2019, a decision was made for the Atherstone to cease hunting activities for the 2019/20 season with immediate effect.
‘The longer-term future of the Hunt and its country is being considered with regards to a possible amalgamation or sharing of kennels.
‘However, the welfare of the hounds remains the priority at this stage.
‘Arrangements have been made to draft hounds to other packs but while they remain in kennels they are being looked after by hunt staff under the supervision of the Masters.
‘We would like to thank everyone and in particular our farmers and landowners for their generous support.’
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