Hunt Crime Report 2023-2024

Matt Longman - North Devon and Cornwall Police police

Welcome to our third annual hunt crime report about wildlife offences and antisocial behaviour from members and followers of the Torrington Farmers Hunt, Stevenstone Hunt, Eggesford Hunt and Tiverton Stag Hounds, all of which operate in north Devon. The information comes from local people at home and on the road, delivery drivers, ex-hunters, landowners, farmers, businesses and hunt saboteurs.

We’ve included a table detailing the places hunt activity was reported through the season. You can use it to find out when hunters are likely to be in your area during the 2024-25 season. You might want to check our annual reports for the previous two seasons, 2021-22 and 2022-23, which also contain hunt dates and places.

Hunt crime report – North Devon

The CPS defines organised crime as planned and co-ordinated criminal behaviour and conduct by people working together on a continuing basis. That sounds a lot like hunts. It has been a crime to hunt wild mammals with a pack of dogs since the 2004 Hunting Act became law, but they do it anyway.

If they were gangs of burglars or child abusers it would be a different story because the law is clear and easy to implement. The Hunting Act is full of loopholes, enabling hunters to break the law and lie to cover their crimes. People in the countryside are furious and the police are frustrated. More than 9 million of us live in rural areas like north Devon and we deserve better than this.

Twice a week from autumn to early spring foxes, deer and hares are hunted and killed. They’re not alone. Chickens, an alpaca and forty five sheep were mauled to death by hunting hounds in Devon alone this season. The antisocial behaviour that goes hand in hand with hunt crime has an equally serious impact on people’s lives and wellbeing:

  • Trespassing people’s gardens and farmland
  • Breaking into nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries
  • Letting out-of-control hounds get lost, leaving them to be killed on roads and railways
  • Threatening, assaulting, frightening, insulting, running over and riding horses at members of the public
  • Causing serious road traffic hazards
  • Mistreating their hounds
  • Killing people’s pets and livestock
  • Indoctrinating children into a life of crime
  • Riding quad bikes illegally
  • Stopping people from going about their business by blocking the way
  • Stealing and smashing people’s property
  • Conducting lethal car chases and crashing their quads, putting themselves and the public at risk

The list goes on.

Despite the dangers, Devon County Hunt Saboteurs calmly do everything they can to stop the killing. We can’t thank them enough. If you want to know the details behind what our local hunts gets up to, take a look at the DCHS YouTube account, Facebook page and website to see the truth for yourself.

This season we’ve heard about new groups of hunt saboteurs being formed across the UK, proving that more people than ever want to stop hunt crime and save the nation’s wildlife. You’ll find your nearest hunt sab group here on the Hunt Saboteurs Association website. The excellent Action Against Foxhunting also provides a wealth of useful information about hunt crime and how to deal with it on their website.

Highlights from the 2023-24 hunting season

This year more than 100 local people have reported hunt sightings, activities, locations and crimes to this Facebook page. Some of you have messaged the page numerous times with intel, photos and video, and it has been invaluable. You know who you are – and you’re brilliant. Thank you so much.

It has been an interesting season, with change clearly on the way. Here are the highlights of our 2023-2024 hunt-watch.

  • We’ve seen the number of hunt riders plummet, leaving as few as 3-5 riders at many meets that used to attract tens
  • Hunt antisocial behaviour has shot up, perhaps because the few remaining half-decent people who used to hunt have given up, leaving the dregs of humanity behind
  • For the first time we’re hearing from farmers and other large landowners who don’t want hunting on their land and are fed up with hunt trespass
  • We’re seeing hunts turn up several times in the same places. Maybe they’re being told to stay away from parts of their usual ‘hunting country’
  • Some locations have had a very hard time this season, the King’s Nympton and Yarnscombe areas in particular, giving us another hint that fewer landowners want hunters on their land
  • The Tiverton Stag Hounds made an unusual number of incursions into north Devon this season, perhaps because they too are being told to stay away from their usual haunts
  • We’ve seen more hounds abandoned and killed on the roads than ever before
  • Hound control is a growing issue as kennelmen leave or are told to go, and experienced replacements can’t be found
  • We have found out just how bad the hunt fraternity’s infiltration into public life has become, with hunt supporters in position in everything from Parish Councils to the County Council
  • We noticed local fox hunts not going out on their unusual Wednesdays and Saturdays towards the end of this season. Perhaps they wanted to avoid being spotted, reported, filmed, recorded, photographed and sabotaged. But it isn’t practical in the long term to vary hunting days without losing even more riders and followers
  • We’ve realised how few people in towns and cities know about the UK’s twenty year hunting crimewave. They need to know
  • Greenwashing continues in our region, with Clinton Devon Estates staff accompanying a hunt on their land towards the end of the season and numerous holiday homes, farm cottages, wedding venues and rural attractions getting into hunting once the tourists go home. Consumers deserve to know

Hunt locations by date

Here’s a list of reported hunt locations and dates from the 2023-24 season, a shocking indictment of the level of threat these criminals pose to our wildlife and to ordinary people. Because hunters are creatures of habit the list should help the law-abiding public protect their land, livestock, pets and children throughout the next hunting season. It should also help with road safety: once you know where hunts are likely to be hunting, you can drive with extra caution on our already-crazy roads.

16/08/2023 Southcott Cross nr Winkleigh, Little Vellow Moor
18/08/2023 Edgemoor Farm nr Riddlecombe,
23/08/2023 Between Iddesleigh and Monkokehampton
26/08/2023 Crooke Burnell nr North Tawton, Sandford Barton
07/09/2023 Stoney Cross, Alverdiscott
09/09/2023 St Giles in the Wood
02/10/2023 Churchcombe Dairy Farm, Yarnscome, Dodscott
07/10/2023 St Giles in the Wood
14/10/2023 Hatchmoor
25/10/2023 King’s Nympton, Elstone, Cadbury Barton
30/10/2023 Serstone farm nr Bow, Zeal Monachorum,  the Old Mill, North Yeo farm, Devonshire Heartland Way
04/11/2023 Yarnscombe, Sydney House nr Chulmleigh, Horridge Moor, Cadbury Barton, Challacombe Cross, Parsonage Wood
11/11/2023 Frithelstock Stone, Hatherleigh, Pynda
15/11/2023 Dodscott
25/11/2023 Webbery Barton, Alverdiscott, Haddacott Moor, Garnacott Farm, Carrier’s Lane End, Huntshaw Cross, Twitchen
27/11/2023 Poltimore Arms, Heasley Mill, North Molton
09/12/2023 Hurley Meadow farm, Woolfardisworthy, Hornacott, Hornacott Chapel
16/12/2023 Cloister Hall Farm nr Frithelstock, Ebberley Cross, Sherwood Green, Roborough, Dodscott, High Bickington, Little Torrington
19/12/2023 Gammaton Cross, Guscott
20/12/2023 Bulkworthy, Eastacott,  Stowford Cross, Stowford Moor and Mambury Moor Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Wrangworthy Cross
23/12/2023 The Duke of York in Iddesleigh, Waldons, Middle Week, Ingleigh Green, Barntown
26/12/2023 Town Arms in South Molton, Ashwater EX21, Yarnscombe, Oaklands nr Okehampton, Broadmoor Lane, Hatherleigh Road, Ellmead farm, Folly Gate
28/12/2023 Meet at the Fox and Hounds Hotel, Eggesford
30/12/2023 Hoarestone near Stibb Cross, Holwell Farm / Hembury Castle, Belstone
01/01/2024 King’s Nympton (where hunting hounds killed an alpaca), Waie Inn in Zeal Monachorum, Hayne, Ashridge, Lammacott Farm, Tuckingmill, Devonshire Heartland Way, Serstone farm, Gammaton Cross, Horwood, Great Torrington
06/01/2024 Milton Damerel, Down Farm, Berry Wood, Park House nr Whitebear Cross, Horrellsford
10/01/2024 Torrington Farmers Hunt reported leaving the kennels – destination unknown
13/01/2024 Dolton, Westward Ho!, David Lomas’ estate at Cornborough, Abbotsham Court, Chaltaborough
20/01/2024 Five Lanes nr Abbots Bickington, Huntshaw Wood (owned by Clinton Devon Estates), Huntshaw Water, Guscott, Millbrook, Huntshaw Mill Bridge
29/01/2024 King’s Nympton, Beara Cross, St Giles in the Wood
31/01/2024 Guscott, Huntshaw
03/02/2024 Garnacott Farm, Weare Giffard, Gammaton Cross, Great Torrington, Frithelstock, Culleighford, Tarka Trail, Watergate, Barley Hayes, East Ford Farm
05/02/2024 Heavy hunt traffic and vehicles parked along the B3227 – destination unknown
10/02/2024 King’s Nympton, Roborough, Great Gorewood Farm, Buckland Brewer, Frithelstockstone, Tythecott
13/02/2024 Stevenstone Hunt reported leaving the kennels
15/02/2024 St John’s Chapel, Newton Tracey, Horwood
17/02/2024 Higher Soldon near Sutcombe, Thuborough Wood
18/02/2024 Deepmoor and the farm opposite the recycling site
20/02/2024 Stevenstone Hunt reported leaving the kennels – destination unknown
22/02/2024 Down Farm, Beaford, Roborough
24/02/2024 Bowling Green Farm, Yeo family land, Yarnscombe, Huxford Farm, King’s Nympton, West Putford, Kismeldon, Rock Cottage, Chapman’s Well
26/02/2024 Stevenstone Hunt reported leaving the kennels – destination unknown
09/03/2024 Yeory, Merton, Woodhouse Farm, Millbrook, Gammaton Cross
20/03/2024 Clinton Devon Estate land at Merton – Estate staff accompanied the hunters
21/03/2024 Emmetts, Simonsbath, Exmoor
23/03/2024 King’s Nympton
30/03/2024 Yarnscome, Beaford, Rosemoor, Little Torrington

Unless the Torrington Farmers Hunt, Stevenstone Hunt, Eggesford Hunt and Tiverton Stag Hounds cease to exist before autumn 2024, we’ll be back with another report at the end of the 2024-25 season – over 20 years since the Hunting Act 2004 became law.

Tagged , , , ,