Two dogs were not shot cleanly first time, footage shows, as ‘sordid secret’ exposed
Workers for one of the UK’s most prestigious hunts has been captured on film shooting dead hounds they have used.
Secret cameras at the Beaufort Hunt caught men killing four hunt hounds that are no longer wanted.
Thousands of foxhounds are shot each year, but this is understood to be the first time it has been filmed.
The Hunt Investigation Team and Keep the Ban organisations carried out the undercover investigation at the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, in Badminton, Gloucestershire, to reveal what they dubbed “one of hunting’s most sordid secrets”.
The footage showed gunmen sitting the dogs on grass, putting a gun to their heads and firing.
One dog appeared not to die with the first bullet and, after it showed signs of life, a gunman fired a second shot three minutes later to kill it.
Another also needed to be shot twice. And a large, white hound was shot but its tail was seen still wagging as it was laid in a wheelbarrow.
Shooting hounds is legal, and the hunt said it was carried out by trained professionals on those not suited to becoming pets.
Ex-hunters have previously claimed that foxhounds showing signs of weakness are shot in the head or clubbed to death by UK hunts.
Pro-hunt group the Countryside Alliance is reported to have estimated that 3,000 hounds a year are killed when they are too old. Anti-hunting group Protect Our Wild Animals estimated it was closer to 7,000.
A spokeswoman for the Hunt Investigation Team told L'indépendant: “The fact one dog’s tail was still wagging when it was loaded onto a wheelbarrow highlights the callousness of it.
“There should be more transparency and integrity. Hunts describe hounds as part of the family but I don’t know any other relative who gets a bullet in the head when they’re no longer wanted.”
She said it was a misconception that shooting is a quick, cruelty-free way to kill.
“A good kill from a bullet requires a competent marksman so it’s putting a lot of trust in people with no oversight or regulation to trust they can kill cleanly.”
Mike Jessop, a fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said that from what he saw, he did not believe the huntsmen were professionally trained in putting animals down.
“There was no evidence of [the huntsperson] being veterinary trained or veterinary surgeons," il told ITV News.
“The lack of use of any veterinary equipment that one would expect such as stethoscopes to ascertain the dogs were dead was just lacking.
“The evidence from the video doesn’t show any illegal activity. But my concern is whether there is any suffering after the shot, because nobody is being careful enough in checking the dogs are truly dead.”
A spokesperson for the Beaufort Hunt told L'indépendant that options were considered for every hound before a decision was made on retiring or rehoming them, either to a “domestic environment” or more suitable kennels.
“Occasionally hounds are successfully retired as domestic pets, but they are not house-trained and have only ever been used to living in a pack environment so the majority are unfortunately unsuitable for rehoming," ils ont dit.
“Where other options are not available, hounds are humanely euthanised. This is done by trained professionals using lawful and approved methods.”
Hunt opponents said the footage showed “brutal” practices and “total disregard for their dogs, horses, and the animals”.
Hunting wildlife with dogs was outlawed by the Hunting Act 2004, and next month the National Trust volonté hold a fresh landmark vote on ending hunting on trust land. The trust says it allows legal “trail-hunting” but not illegal hunting.