Hunt Saboteurs Association

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The logo of the Hunt Saboteurs Association UK.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) is an organization that uses direct action to stop the hunting of animals. The HSA have been using the same basic tactics since their inception in 1963; the underlying principle being to disrupt a day's hunting.

Origins[edit]

In 1964 John Prestige founded the Hunt Saboteurs Association in Brixham, England, after being assigned to report on the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, where "he witnessed the hunters drive a pregnant deer into a village and kill her." [1] Designed to "actively oppose blood sports," [1] the HSA eschewed parliamentary reforms and instead went directly out into the fields of Britain to do everything they could, sometimes breaking the law and being consequently arrested, to prevent the killing of British wildlife.[1] "Within a year, HSA groups appeared across England in Devon, Somerset, Avon, Birmingham, Hampshire and Surrey. Ronnie Lee, founder of the animal rights group Band of Mercy (and later the Animal Liberation Front), began his activism within an HSA group in Luton, England. HSA now operates throughout Europe and North America. Hunt saboteurs often refer to themselves as "sabs", however they are typically called "antis" by hunts; short for anti-hunter.

Early evidence[edit]

A group of hunt saboteurs both appear and are a critical part of the plot in the 1963 film The List of Adrian Messenger.

Tactics[edit]

The HSA uses tactics such as: hunting horns and whistles to misdirect hounds, spraying scent dullers, laying false trails, and locking gates to interfere with the progress of a hunt.[2] In the mid-1990s members used a "gizmo" (a portable cassette tape player linked up to a megaphone or other portable amplification equipment) to play the sound of hounds in cry, causing the dogs to break off the chase.

The HSA has expanded into Europe and countries such as the United States and Canada, so their tactics have shifted depending on the type of hunting being disrupted. The HSA now routinely disrupt deer, waterfowl, turkey, mink, and hare hunts, as well as angling and other types of fishing.[3] As a result, numerous states have passed laws forbidding the disruption of legal hunting activities.[citation needed]

Violence[edit]

The HSA are often involved in rows with hunts and landowners, which sometimes lead to violence. Due to the nature of the HSA's activities they are often prosecuted for breaking the law. Part V Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA) Section 68(1) created offences in connection with trespass by hunt saboteurs including giving police officers the ability to "direct trespassers on land (who are there with the common purpose of residing there for any period) to leave the land where the occupier has taken steps to ask them to do so, and either:they have damaged the land; or they have used threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to the occupier, the occupier's family, employees or agents; or between them they have 6 or more vehicles on the land".

The act also created the offence of aggravated trespass which was formed (in part) to give the police power over HSA activists;"a person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land in the open air and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land in the open air, does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect: a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity, b) of obstructing that activity, or c) of disrupting that activity".[4][5]

The HSA are often considered violent by many hunts and landowners.[6][7] Hunt saboteurs have been linked with several violent episodes including the death of hunt supporter,Trevor Morse.[8]

In January 2015 a video emerged online of a huntmaster being beaten unconscious by masked saboteurs using iron bars.[9]

Journal[edit]

HSA UK publishes a quarterly journal, Howl.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

National Groups