Vale of White Horse Hunt: Organised supply of foxes for illegal hunting
Hunting with hounds was banned in 2004. Hunts have been using the “smokescreen” of trail hunting since then, but this has repeatedly been shown to be a lie. HIT’s latest shocking investigation exposes how farmers, landowners and terriermen are complicit in the organised supply of foxes for illegal hunting.
The Vale of White Horse Hunt in Wiltshire was covertly monitored at various meets in 2021-22. It was established that the VWH Hunt were actively hunting foxes – at no time was an artificial trail laid by them.
Acting upon reports of illegal fox hunting, HIT installed covert cameras in and around a barn near Swindon. Our investigation, in collaboration with Keep The Ban, showed the organised supply of foxes from landowners to hunts.
An innocent fox took residence in this hay barn in the winter months. Landowner Duncan Drewett apparently alerted the VWH hunt terriermen to this, and another resident fox on site. The Drewetts apparently invited the VWH hunt and terriermen onto their land on hunt days.
HIT’s footage shows that a radio-collared terrier was intentionally put into the barn to flush out the startled fox. The fox was subsequently seen bolting out the back of the barn, observed by a second terrierman.
The two terriermen can be heard on camera discussing successfully flushing the fox out – and her confusion upon being suddenly disturbed. The hunt terriermen reiterate that Duncan Drewett has advised them of another resident fox in another barn nearby.
Within the hour, the VWH hunt arrived at the Drewetts’ barn, searching for a fox. No trail had been laid through or around here. Duncan Drewett showed one of the huntsmen where the foxes live, and the huntsman moved to the back of the barn where the fox bolted.
The hounds picked up the scent of the fox, went into cry and the chase began. Verity Drewett, Duncan’s wife, positioned herself on a vantage point.
The fox broke cover from the hedgerow and desperately headed back for the relative safety of the barn. Verity Drewitt watched this from her vantage point and prevented the fox from returning to safety by shouting and waving her arms. She alerted Duncan and the hunt to the fox’s location. Verity’s actions appear to show her actively participating in the hunting of a wild mammal. She was also permitting her land to be used for hunting. Both are contrary to the Hunting Act 2004.
The fox meanwhile ran across the fields and away. A hunt rider verbally indicated the presence of the fox. Verity ran across to get a better view of the fox being hunted.
The hounds appeared moments later, at the same place the fox was last seen on our cameras. They started “speaking” – indicating that they had the scent of the fox, and began hunting again.
No attempt was made by anyone present to stop the hounds. Wiltshire Police were called on the day but no action was taken. The fate of the running fox is unknown.
HIT’s footage clearly recorded Verity Drewett stating that the fox was going back into their barn and she prevented this. This indicates that she knew exactly where the fox initially came from. Landowners Duncan and Verity Drewett are senior members of the VWH hunt, with Duncan still on the hunt committee.
Hunts rely on farmers and landowners like this to supply foxes on a regular basis. Foxes are allowed and even encouraged to take residence, in order to sustain a supply to hunt for “sport”. This is organised wildlife crime. Foxes in our countryside have no safe place to live. Turned over by landowners to expectant hunts, their fate is all but sealed.
Philip Wilkinson, Police & Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire recently told a member of the public, ‘If a member of the public reports illegal fox hunting it will be investigated by the police as they would investigate any other report of a crime’. HIT’s footage has been passed to Wiltshire Police. We await with interest the outcome of their investigation.
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