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 fox hunting. 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 deer into a village and kill her." [1] Designed to "violently oppose blood sports," [1] the HSA eschewed parliamentary reforms and instead went directly out onto hunting grounds 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" or monitors (to reflect that they are gathering evidence of illegal activity) but are typically called "antis" (short for "anti-hunter") by hunters.

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. These are examples of "non violent direct action tactics".[3]

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.[4] As a result, numerous states have passed laws forbidding the disruption of legal hunting activities.[citation needed]

Controversy[edit]

A public order act was created to help control HSA members on private land. 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".[5][6]

However, the Hunting Act (2004) has meant that hunts are no longer acting lawfully when they deliberately kill foxes and other wildlife - as they continue to do under the pretence of trail hunting.

HSA members are routinely subject to intimidation and actual violence as they attempt to get film footage as evidence of criminal activity (such as was successfully achieved with the Heythrop Hunt). Such an example occurred in June 2015. HSA members attempting to rescue a deer which was being hunted illegally. The members were cleared of aggravated trespass and it was deemed that the terriermen involved had caused 'unnecessary suffering' to the deer.[7]

HSA members continue to fight the flouting of the HA at considerable personal risk and a number of recent video revelations (such as that of the Middleton Foxes and the cruelty case involving the South Herefordshire Hunt)have brought home the truth about post-ban hunting.

Journal[edit]

HSA UK publishes a quarterly journal, Howl.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Best, Steven (ed), Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?, Lantern Books, 2004
  2. ^ HSA Tactics Book
  3. ^ "About the HSA". Hunt Saboteurs Association. Retrieved May 2015. 
  4. ^ "huntsab.org". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Trespass and Nuisance on Land". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Hunt Saboteurs Praised by Judge after being Cleared of Aggravated Trespass". Hunt Saboteur Association. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Howl Subscription Information

External links[edit]

National Groups