RESIDENTS of West Somerset are being urged to be ‘eyes and ears of the countryside’ to protect fox cubs from illegal hunting.
The anti-hunting organisation International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has launched a Neighbourhood Watch-style advertising campaign to help prevent illegal fox cub hunting.
It wants local residents to report to the police if they see any suspicious activity which resembles cub hunting.
Cub hunting is the practice of training young dogs to kill fox cubs so they develop a taste for blood, and traditionally formed part of the hunting calendar.
The Hunting Act 2004 outlawed the practice, but animal welfare groups remain concerned that some people could be continuing the early morning activity, in an attempt to keep the sport alive.
IFAW hunt monitor Kevin Hill said: “Cub hunting is a particularly barbaric activity.
“Dogs would not naturally hunt foxes, they have to be trained from a young age by taking them to a fox habitat and letting them loose with older, more experienced dogs.
“Hunters surround the woods and block any escape routes for the fleeing foxes.
“Many people will be shocked to learn about this aspect of hunting and we encourage locals to be the eyes and ears of the countryside to help stop this cruelty.”
The newspaper advert features a photograph of a young fox and reads: “He’s only a few months old, but already they could be baying for his blood.
“Over the coming weeks, the International Fund for Animal Welfare believes that a cruel and illegal activity could be taking place in your area.
“Some people may be training their hounds by setting them upon fox cubs, an archaic practice that was banned under the Hunting Act.
“If you see any suspicious behaviour please contact the police. For information on what to look for, visit www.ifaw.org.”
IFAW and the League Against Cruel Sports have written to every police force in England and Wales asking them to be especially vigilant in looking out for cub hunting from August until November, and to take action where appropriate to prevent this illegal activity.