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Over the first weekend of May, we visited two partridge rearing sites belonging to Caçabrava, a game breeding company based near Tomar, Portugal. The barren wire cages, that hold two red legged partridges each, are as far removed from the birds' natural habitat as is possible. Light bulbs are situated either in front of or above the cages in order to mimic daylight and so increase egg production and the netting above each cage causes head injuries through repeated attempts to escape. Perversely, 'Caçabrava' literally translates as 'wild game' but our exposé reveals that these birds' lives are anything but wild.
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Caçabrava supply two hatcheries in the UK; Meadow Game and Iberian Game, both of whom in turn supply shoots with day old chicks. We found that partridges hatched at Meadow Game were being reared on at a site on land owned by the Duke of Somerset, just a few fields from one of the 'top ten shoots in the UK', the Brixton Deverill Shoot in Wiltshire. The Brixton Deverill Shoot is a member of the British Game Alliance (BGA), a new initiative brought about to market game as 'wild' and 'ethical' to the public. However, the BGA's only standard regarding where shoots source their birds from states that, 'birds released on to your shoot must have been reared to the Government game rearing standards, or equivalent if sourced from abroad.' This standard is so deliberately vague so as to allow birds whose parents are confined to wire cages already made illegal for use with chickens to be shot on BGA member shoots. It also gives a green light for factory farms such as Caçabrava in Portugal and L’Envol de Retz and Gibovendée in France to supply the UK's shooting industry with vast numbers of birds to simply be blasted out of the sky by wealthy shooters.
 
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Over 27 million gamebird chicks and eggs were imported from the EU during the last 12 months alone (this vast number even excludes partridge eggs due to a lack of data), and so ending these imports will have a huge effect on this cruel bloodsport. However, we need your help!
 
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P&O Ferries are the only ferry company that have stopped allowing gamebird chicks and eggs on board their ferries. Although Brittany Ferries have stopped transporting chicks, they currently still allow hatching eggs. DFDS say they allow livestock imports on a 'case by case' basis and still allow hatching eggs.
 
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Please contact Brittany Ferries and DFDS to ask them to stop providing a lifeline to this horrific industry and cease transporting gamebird hatching eggs.

Brittany Ferries email addresses: Christophe.Mathieu@brittany-ferries.frcustomer.feedback@brittanyferries.comThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.pressoffice@brittanyferries.com, reservations@brittanyferries.com.
DFDS email addresses: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
 
Dear Sir/Madam,
 
      Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your stance to no longer allow your vessels to carry gamebird chicks. However, the battery farming of gamebirds in Portugal and elsewhere in the EU will continue as long as you allow hatching eggs to be transported. I implore you to join P&O and copy their policy to not carry gamebird chicks and hatching eggs.
 
     I eagerly await your reply.
 
     Yours faithfully,
 
Social media:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Judge Cooper today announced that the Fitzwilliam hunt had failed to overturn their conviction for illegal hunting that they received in April 2018. Their appeal was heard at Cambridge Crown Court two weeks ago but the Fitzwilliam huntsman George Adams was unsuccessful in claiming he'd hunted within the law by flushing a fox to be killed by a bird of prey.

 

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The case was brought using video evidence gathered by Beds and Bucks hunt sabs who filmed the kill. The appeal court upheld the original conviction despite attempts by the defence to discredit witnesses and ambushing the court with last minute legal claims and the questionable addition of their own so-called expert witness, a computer forensics expert with no background in animal sciences.

 

 

We hope this finally signals the end of the Bird of Prey or Falconry exemption within the Hunting Act. Other hunts which use this loophole will now have to reconsider their options as they will no longer be considered to be taking part in exempt hunting just by having someone with a bird of prey present. The use of birds of prey alongside hunting with hounds is not, and never was falconry. There are serious welfare issues for the raptors used in this manner alongside the abhorrent cruelty involved in setting 1 or 30 animals against another.

 

 

Judge Cooper, in summing up stated: “Something significant" must change in the planning and training of the hounds and the characteristics of hunts in the future if they don't want to be charged with illegal hunting”.

 

 

We will continue to actively target all hunts in an effort to stop their abuse of wildlife with all and every means at our disposal. The Hunting Act is in desperate need of strengthening, all the loopholes should be closed and hunting with dogs finally consigned to history. We will continue to work towards that end but in the meantime you will find us defending our wildlife in the fields no matter what violence, abuse and intimidation we face.

 
 
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Recent research of French court documents showed that Eurotunnel are the last remaining company transporting day old gamebird chicks from France to the U.K. Brittany Ferries and DFDS are still transporting hatching eggs.

 

 Dead pheasant
 
According to DEFRA, around half of all gamebirds released in the U.K. are from French battery farms. This estimate is confirmed by a question asked in parliament, the answer to which was that 15,513,447 pheasant and partridge hatching eggs and chicks were imported from France in 2015.
 
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Our previous exposés of British battery game farms show just how awful these birds’ lives are in conditions that have already been made illegal for chickens. This footage taken last weekend shows that these horrific methods of farming gamebirds are the same in France but take place on a far greater scale. Row upon row of barren wire cages house these birds as they peck at each other due to overcrowding.
 
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As seen on British farms, these French farms also contain male pheasants housed in solitary confinement in tiny cages. These birds, who will replace those killed in breeding cages, also suffer from ‘scalping’, an industry term used to describe the wounds on their head caused by multiple attempts to escape. As well as this, these birds were seen to display stereotypical behaviour such as repetitive head movements, indicating that they have been driven mad by their unnatural environment.
 
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The two game farm co-operatives, Gibovendée and L’ Envol de Retz, are situated in villages near Nantes, meaning that day old chicks are forced to travel for up to ten hours before reaching the Eurotunnel in Calais. Each co-operative represents dozens of farms.
 
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These birds need your help. The transportation of their chicks and hatching eggs must end as a matter of urgency as the majority of these will cross the Channel over the next few months.
 
We are on the cusp of a historic victory. Stopping the transportation of chicks and hatching eggs from France will mean that millions fewer gamebirds will be shot in the U.K.
 
Please copy and paste our template email (or even better, write your own) and send it to Eurotunnel:
 
     Dear Sir/Madam,
 
     After seeing the footage of pheasants and partridges in tiny barren cages, I am appalled to find out that Eurotunnel transport hatching eggs and chicks. This indefensible industry can only operate with your support. I read with some interest that Eurotunnel regulations specific that animals will not be transported for slaughter or animal testing, surely this should extend to gamebirds as they slaughtered for sport?
 
     I eagerly await your reply.
 
     Yours faithfully,
 

 

 
Ring Eurotunnel customer services and ask them when they will stop the transportation of chicks and hatching eggs into the U.K.:
 
From the UK:+44 (0) 8443 35 35 35 
From France: +33 (0) 810 63 03 04 
 
Contact Eurotunnel via social media:
 
 
Of the 15 million gamebirds imported into the UK, over 9 million enter as hatching eggs. Please also contact Brittany Ferries and DFDS:
 
 
     Dear Sir/Madam,
 
      Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your stance to no longer allow your vessels to carry gamebird chicks. However, the battery farming of gamebirds in France will continue as long as you allow hatching eggs to be transported. I implore you to join P&O and copy their policy to not carry gamebird chicks and hatching eggs.
 
     I eagerly await your reply.
 
     Yours faithfully,
 
 
Contact Brittany Ferries and DFDS by email:
 
 
 
Or via social media:

On March 13th 2019 at Ipswich Crown Court, the former huntsman of the Thurlow Hunt, Chris Amatt, was found guilty of illegally hunting with a pack of dogs.

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The case related to a fox killed on Boxing Day 2017 and the prosecution was brought using evidence and witness testimony from Beds & Bucks Hunt Sabs and North Cambs Hunt Sabs. 

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Amatt was also found guilty of assaulting one of the sabs present who recorded his crime. Likewise, hunt member Archie Clifton Brown (who is the nephew of the owner of the Thurlow Hunt) was also found guilty of assault on the same sab, while cynically trying to take the body of the killed fox from him in an attempt to conceal evidence.

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The judge Nick Watson, in summing up, commented that the sabs were honest and credible witnesses, whereas the defendants had fabricated a number of lies to cover for their crimes. At no point had the sabs present in the wood had anything to do with the death of the fox and indeed had not turned it into the hounds as the defence had claimed. The huntsman was clearly heard encouraging the hounds and had made no attempt to stop them. Archie Clifton-Brown only avoided the Hunting Act prosecution due to the doubt in the level of involvement he had in the proceedings.

 

The defence utilised a hugely expensive legal team, including the now multiple hunting act case loser Stephen Welford, and two QC barristers, clearly hoping that their bottomless wallets could buy them immunity from the law.

 

Lee Moon, Spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “Hunt saboteurs primary aim is always to save lives but on the sad occasions when this isn’t possible we will seek justice for the hunted animal. Congratulations to these two groups for having the fortitude to see this process through to a successful conclusion. We call for the MFHA to suspend the criminal Thurlow Hunt and then for them to be permanently disbanded.”

Hunt Saboteurs Association News Release 4th March 2019

 

Hunt saboteurs from across the South and West sprung into action this week to sabotage the ‘Ilminster Hare Week’, a hare hunting ‘festival’ taking place in Somerset. The festival is hosted by the Ilminster Beagles, with other beagle & basset packs travelling to hunt hare in the area.

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On Sunday, the opening day of the festival, over 50 saboteurs shut down a meet of the Ryeford Chase Rabbit Hounds at Beercrocombe, Somerset.

 

This was followed up by a meet of the Ilminster Beagles on Monday at Aller, Somerset. With sabs present the hunt did little more than hang around at the meet and take sabs on a short walk around nearby lanes.

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With saboteurs in the area ready to disrupt meets throughout the rest of the week and the travelling packs under close observation, the hare hunters are promised to have an equally hard time going forward.

 

The brown hare population is in serious decline in this country and recent cases of diseases such as myxomatosis and RHDV2 further threatening the species. It is disgusting that organised hunts such as those taking part in this ‘festival’ continue to illegally persecute hares for sport.

 

Hunt saboteurs will not stand idly by whilst animals are chased and killed for fun and are prepared to take non-violent direct action whenever necessary to protect them.

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Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated: “These secretive “festivals” are the last feeble kicks of a dying hunt tradition. Beagle and basset packs throughout the UK are on their last legs and are made up almost entirely of the older generation as youngsters want nothing to do with their “sport”. The hunts become ever more secretive and have to come together from all over the country to meet others who share their cruel and outdated views. Sabs will be out in Somerset for the rest of this week to ensure no killing takes place and that any packs that have travelled for the hare week have a wasted journey.”