A group of animal welfare activists have vowed to sabotage fox hunts across Northern Ireland after disrupting the first event of the season.
an NI Saboteurs targeted the East Down Hunt on November 6 and successfully stopped the dogs from killing foxes.
Speaking anonymously to Sunday Life, one of the key members of the group said they would continue to surprise hunts during the four months of the long fox hunting season.
“We will be away most Saturdays between the end of October and the second week of March,” he said.
Hunting with dogs is still legal in Northern Ireland, as the matter falls to Stormont, which has yet to pass legislation similar to the Hunting Act of 2004 which banned it in England and the Land of Wales.
Speaking of the East Down Hunt sabotage, he said: “It was absolute pantomime for them, they had absolutely no control over the dogs, they were everywhere.
“A few saboteurs ended up in ditches with a few cuts and bruises but we had a lot worse, people have already run their horses to us.
“There was also the usual verbal but whatever they say it’s water on a duck’s back.
“There were 15 of us and there were about 20 to 25 horses and maybe about 30 dogs.
“We have different tactics including an electronic device that blows up the sounds of the dogs and when we turn it on the dogs come to us.
“But we can only use it when it is safe, because if they are in one field and we are in another and there is a road between us, you cannot call dogs on the other. side of a road.
“If we are in two adjacent fields, there is no danger and we can turn it on and it pulls them towards us.”
The tactic worked when the group went to disrupt the first hunt of the year by the East Down Hunt outside of Ballynoe, near Downpatrick, County Down.
“But it makes our job a lot easier when they are embarrassing like they were last Saturday and the dogs never detected a smell of any kind,” the member added.
The man explained that far from being the stereotype of hippies with nothing else to do, his members are a cross section of society.
“We have about 25 active members that would come out over a season and we come from all walks of life. – we have people working in the medical profession with teachers and students, ”he said.
“So there’s a range of companies out there, we have people of all faiths, but we’re all there for one reason. “
That reason, he says, is to prevent dogs from tearing foxes alive in what hunters defend as a traditional country chase.
“The dogs chase the fox for maybe 25 minutes with the exhausted fox running for its life and the dogs are just going to tear it up,” he explained.
But the group, which was formed nine years ago, insists it is not a group of city dwellers poking their noses into campaign business because they think they know better.
“We have received private messages of support from farmers and landowners because they don’t want these guys on their land but for different reasons,” he said. “We don’t want them to kill foxes, they don’t want them to scare their cattle, destroy their fences and there have been occasions when they have killed cats and dogs on other people’s land. It’s surprising the amount of support you find in the campaign, but some are afraid to speak out.
While the group tends to target a hunt every Saturday during the season, there can be more than a dozen similar events on the same day in rural areas of Northern Ireland.
“Better to focus on a chase to make sure they don’t do anything when if we split our numbers it becomes a game for everyone. There is safety in numbers, the more people we have on Saturday, the fewer problems we will have.
“And we will go out every week to hunt the hunters.” “