RSPCA accused of using badger laws to ‘get to hunts’

Posted on February 19, 2013


Today (19th February), an item was posted on titled ‘RSPCA using badger laws as a “backdoor” way to get to hunts’.

‘… The RSPCA has been accused of using laws to protect badgers as a “backdoor” way to “victimise” hunts –

… Now it has been revealed that six more people connected to hunts have also been accused of interfering with badger setts by the RSPCA.

Members of the Avon Vale Hunt, established in 1888, were accused of digging at a badger sett in March last year.

The RSPCA accused four men of interfering with a sett the day of a hunt in the area. A man is also being charged under the Hunting Act in the trial due to start in May …

Two members of the Cheshire Forest Hunt are also accused of interfering with a badger sett.

Stephen Welford, who represented the Watsons and is also defending the two men, said the Badger Act is being used as a “backdoor way” of stopping hunting.

He said anyone linked to a hunt is “victimised”, regardless of the weight of evidence.

“They [the RPSCA] are using it as a backdoor mechanism for preventing the hunts from carrying on a lawful activity,” he said.

Under the Hunting Act 2005 it is illegal to hunt a fox with dogs. However under the so-called “terrier exemption” it is legal to use a single dog to flush a fox out of an earth and kill it with a gun.

Under the Badger Act it is illegal to interfere with a badger sett that is “currently in use”.

Tim Bonner, Director of Campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said the RSPCA are claiming fox earths are badger setts that are still in use in order to try and prosecute people carrying out legal activity on behalf of a landowner.

He said that because of the high density of badgers in the country, many earths will have been used at one time by a badger, but hunt members will only send dogs down fox earths.

He said the RSPCA and other organisations are really using the Badger Act to try to punish hunts or anyone involved in hunts.

The RSPCA has been criticised recently for bringing “politically motivated” cases against hunts after spending £326,000 prosecuting David Cameron’s local hunt.

However Jack Reedy of the Badger Trust insisted that interference with badger setts is a real problem.

He insisted the RSPCA are just doing their job, defending animals.

“This is what I pay the RSPCA for, to take legal action on behalf of animals,” he said.

The RSPCA said it “never pursues any case for political reasons – all cases are always based on alleged offences around animal welfare and/or cruelty.”

“We do not know, and would not necessarily expect to know, whether any individual defendant has connections with hunts or hunting. We would never pursue a case unless it was to do with animal cruelty or abuse,” said a spokesman.

:: Meanwhile the League Against Cruel Sports has released a new film to highlight the cruelty associated with hunting to coincide with the eight year anniversary of the historic Hunting Act 2004.

In what the charity are calling ‘their most shocking film to date’, Don’t Turn the Clock back to Cruelty, shows hunting with dogs before the passing of the Act on 18th February 2005.

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