Hunting’s dirty secret – illegal fox cub hunting season starts

fox cub

Press-release from League against Cruel Sports, 7th August 2013

Leading animal welfare charity, the League Against Cruel Sports, is working to highlight one of hunting’s most dirty secrets, ‘cub hunting’. This illegal and abhorrent practice takes place from mid-August to the start of the main season on the 1st November, and involves training the new intake of hounds to hunt fox cubs. Although the Hunting Act 2004 bans the hunting of wild mammals with dogs for sport, the League states that hunts are actively seeking to flout the law, and as a result employs an undercover team of investigators working across England and Wales to monitor hunts suspected of illegal cub hunting.

Cub hunting is notably different from ‘traditional’ fox hunting, and it typically takes place early in the morning in small wooded areas. Hunt supporters, dressed in tweed, surround the area making constant noise to prevent the foxes from escaping. Keeping the foxes within the covert makes cubs easier to catch and kill so that the new hounds can get a taste for blood. Any cubs which manage to flee underground are dug out by terriermen who throw them to the hounds.

The hunting fraternity is notoriously secretive about their involvement with cub hunting, or ‘autumn hunting’ as they prefer to call it. Typically cub hunting meets are arranged surreptitiously and at the last minute in a bid to avoid detection. However, the League is conducting undercover investigations and making a special appeal to the public to act as their eyes and ears, in a bid to expose and stop this barbaric practice.

Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports comments: “It’s simple, cub hunting is utterly barbaric and illegal. The fact that the pro hunt lobby are so secretive about this activity just shows how determined they are to keep the public from knowing about what they are really up to.”

But, hunting’s dirty secret is becoming better known. Last year the first cub hunting conviction was secured against the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt and this season League investigators will be out on the ground to gather new evidence to secure further prosecutions.

The League are appealing for members of the public to be vigilant and to report any suspected incidents of cub hunting to their confidential Wildlife Crimewatch Line on 01483 361 108.



  • Notes to Editors
    1. Please contact the League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email with any queries or comment requests. Generic photos of fox cubs and foxes can be supplied on request.
    2. Tell tale signs of cub hunting:

      • Groups of horseboxes gathering or parked up early morning or evening

      • All the riders will be in tweed coats – red coats are not worn

      • Riders and foot followers will be spaced at regular intervals surrounding a wood

      • Riders may be tapping their saddles and foot followers clapping their hands

      • Presence of terriermen, usually on quad bikes with dogs carried in boxes on the bikes.


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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores

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