On the 12 December 2011 it was reported that the Essex and Suffolk Hunt had invaded a garden and savaged a fox they had been chasing. A witness, who isn’t opposed to hunting, stated that the fox had been clubbed to death by a huntsman.
Such reports always get and an immediate denial, and in this instance:
“They were hunting with a bird of prey and the pack accidentally picked up on the scent of a fox which attracted the hounds… there was no offence committed on the hunt, which was legal.”
This would be laughable if it came from a huntsman but staggeringly that it’s from Essex Police.
The Hunting Act allows the use of a bird of prey but does NOT allow a hunt to run after, chase or pursue the wild mammal after it has been flushed out. Nor does it allow the dogs to kill the wild mammal.
Also employing (whether or not released to hunt) a bird of prey which does not ordinarily hunt that particular wild mammal is illegal. The Essex and Suffolk Hunt are known to be using a European Eagle Owl. Eagle owls take small prey, generally up to the size of a rabbit not fully grown foxes.
Eagle owls are very difficult to get to hunt, and generally hunt best at dusk (or early morning) and only in quiet conditions; certainly not near packs of hounds.
If the reports of the killing are correct, then an offence has been committed under the Hunting Act.
Unfortunately this isn’t the first time that Essex Police have blatantly ignored allegations of illegal hunting. Whether they like it or not, Essex Police have a responsibility to uphold all laws and not just the ones they agree with.