Row erupts over hunt incident when rhea escapes from Avon Dassett field as hounds 'follow fox'

A hunt has been accused of 'extreme arrogance' after hounds frightened a rhea onto a main road at Avon Dassett.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 11:35 am
Updated Monday, 2nd December 2019, 5:03 pm

West Midlands Hunt Sabateurs (WMHS) released a video of the rhea running along the verge and members of the group accusing the Warwickshire Hunt of illegal hunting.

The hunt said this week their hounds had been distracted from legal trail hunting by the shouting and deliberate disturbance of the sabateurs and that they had spent a lot of time helping the farmer to recapture the bird.

The incident was filmed when the Warwickshire Hunt was out at Avon Dassett last Monday, November 25.

The rhea, pictured right, tries to get back to its field, scaring a huntsman on horseback
The rhea, pictured right, tries to get back to its field, scaring a huntsman on horseback

The film shows WMHS members challenging hunt followers and calling for the hunt to take responsibility while the panicking rhea runs up and down the fence line. Later in the footage, it also shows a fox leaving a field and hounds pursuing it and a hunt member trying to get a hound out of the field.

The farmer tries to lure the bird with food and is heard to tell the huntsman that they were aware they were banned from his land.

A spokesman for the WMHS said: "The Warwickshire Hunt have demonstrated extreme arrogance trespassing over land they know they are not allowed on and showed no concern or remorse to the landowner when he confronted them.

"Over a short space of time the Warwickshire Hunt completely took over the roads of Avon Dassett with hounds running uncontrolled over them.

The rhea tries to find a way back to its flock

"They caused a rhea to escape onto a road that is very close to the M40 motorway. Whilst their huntsman was filmed taking the hounds over to where a fox had been seen running moments before.

"They clearly think they are above the law; they have no regards for anyone else and clearly all that matters to them is being able to hunt foxes unhindered. They will harass any members of the public who get in their way."

Sam Butler, chairman of the Warwickshire Hunt, said: "We've dealt with the matter. An emu did get out. We have apologised and spent a great deal of time catching the rhea and we have put the matter right.

"The West Midlands Hunt Sabateurs are very extreme sabateurs and their sole purpose is to stop us going about our lawful activities by causing harassment and abuse. It is very unattractive.

The rhea, pictured far right, fortunately stays on the verge while cars drive by

"They shout, they scream and blow hunting horns and it does not help the huntsman to exert as much control of the hounds as he might with their presence there. They have gone well beyond what we should have to deal with."

Mr Butler accused the WMHS of cutting and pasting videos to give a false impression of trail hunting.

"We have a good working relationship with this farmer. The hunt has apologised and done a great deal to help him."

Mr Butler said that day's activities had been a Ladies Day which had raised £1,500 for a breast cancer charity and he described the sabateurs' activities as 'insensitive'.

The rhea runs up and down the road at Avon Dassett