Linda and Max did this phone interview mid May with a representative from Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs. They remain anonymous out of safety concerns.
Who exactly are the Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs?
We are I guess you could call us a group of passionate and committed activists who have formed together under the belief that actions have always meant more than words, and who are very fed up with the current political climate of the animal rights movement in Victoria and probably Australia as well.
So the collection of activists who come to Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs initially come across to oppose the hunting of foxes with hounds within Victoria but as we have found along the way that the collective understanding of the saboteurs in the group is that we are very frustrated – upset kind of takes ownership of it – but we’re frustrated with the current climate of the animal rights movement in Victoria.
How do you organise and how do you stop hunts?
Yeah.. so Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs is the first direct opposition to hunting with hounds in Australia… being the first brings about a lot of new things and first things and we’re the first and only club at the moment to come with the support and to be directrly associated with the Hunt Saboteurs Association in the UK who have been out sabotaging fox hunts for the last 60 years.
So what we do is a derivative of basic direct action, we get in the way of the hunt, a non violent style of direct action you know we bring no harm to the hounds or to the horses that are being dragged into this.
We used the methods that the Hunt Saboteurs Association in the UK have used and refined over the last 60 years. So it’s everything that the hunt use to control the hounds we use those tools those tricks in reverse. From voice commands to calling the hounds over to using [inaudible] horn, to the whip… never whipping the dogs but the whip signifies that the hounds need to stop.
Like the sound of it?
Yeah the sound of it even just the sight of it cracking a hunting whip is a skill in its own, a few of us can do .. we’re trying to so it on the run as well is a bit tricking so even just the sight of it is enough to make the dogs stop what they’re doing and come back.
Everything that the barbaric hunters use to force the hounds into destroying the fox we use to take control of the hounds. And then it becomes a game of cat and mouse we take control of the hounds they try to take them back. We never put the hounds at risk we never call them over a road or into an area that is dangerous for them but it definitely if the hunter is chasing a fox and the hounds are on a fox we’ll use everything we’ve got to call those hounds away from a live fox.
We’ve seen that we have guns at some of these hunts is there ever a worry about being shot?
Um yeah, we’d be really stupid if we didn’t acknowledge and have plans and methods in place for that. The law in Victoria is a bit grey but it’s also very clear in certain components so the hunts can legally chase a fox with their hounds and when we’re talking about fox hunting we are talking about that traditionalist crap of men and women in red coats chasing an animal for fun. And the law says they can do that but the law says they’re not allowed to let them attack a fox so that’s where the guns come into [it] um we sabotaged a hunt in Victoria two weeks ago and it was rather difficult because they were shooting foxes.. so called flushing foxes where they use the hounds and the fox horses to drive the fox out of its area and into the path of hunters who have guns so its always a bit tricky. We always dress in black and we cover our faces so we can’t be identified. You know dickhead hunters with small appendages and big guns like to shot anything so we have to be really careful with that one.
So far we haven’t really been confronted with too much violence involving hunters with guns but it’s a real live threat.
What’s the largest hunt that you’ve had to deal with?
In Australia our opening hunt which you can see all the footage on Facebook (Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs) we sabbed Oakland opening hunt he in Melbourne and that was pretty well attended with probably 30 riders. But we also had a crack at their combined closing hunt of the season 2017 and there were mores hounds but less [sic] riders. This time there were more riders about the same number of hounds. But I’ve also sabbed in the UK so I recently got back – just before the Australian season opened which runs from the end of April to the start of September – from the UK where I spent three weeks [inaudible] and sabotaging with the UK guys over there… their hunts were a lot bigger than what Australian hunts are.
How many hunt clubs are there in Australia?
Ohh far too many, at the moment we’ve focused all our intel and all our resources to just focus on the hunts within Victoria and I Victoria alone we’ve got 14 on our books which we need to keep tabs on and we know there’s a couple of smaller ones that pop up every now and then.
But Australia where ever the fox has been introduced you’ll find a club unfortunately, Sydney has a very prestigious club, Queensland has another couple of hunts and we’ve been approached by a couple of people in Queensland wanting to set up a Queensland Saboteurs up there to oppose the blood sport and the class-ism of the people who attend hunts.
But Australia wide it wouldn’t surprise me if there were over a hundred.
Often people say that fox hunting is a necessary thing because foxes are an introduced species what do you say to that?
Well the truth is that the fox is well an introduced species. It was introduced shortly after white invasion and it was introduced by white invaders. So they could continue the tradition of hunting. So the fox is here of no fault of its own.
And yes it was a pest species, evolution is a funny thing. Time is also equally hilarious, the fox is not the villain that is is made out to be, you know the biggest aggressors towards the fox are the farmers people who are already profiting off the abuse of animals so animals of consistently lamb during winter are upset because the fox eats lambs. The fox accounts for four percent of farming loses.
In a perfect world we would say people should stop profiteering off animals. The fox is here whether it is classified as a pest, it’s not classified as a pest in New South Wales, it doesn’t exist in Tasmania, in Victoria it’s classified as a pest, it’s not classified as a pest in South Australia…… Australia needs to get its head around how we’re going to look at the fox.
Government programs to control the fox are well and truly there and they’re another fight we’re trying to take on. But I don’t think anything deserves to be ripped apart by dogs simply because a bunch of rich aristocrats want to chase it on horseback.
There’s no conservation value in hunting with hounds and that’s been widely reported in Victoria.
Did I read somewhere that they sometimes let out foxes especially for the fox hunt?
Yeah.. yeah… Look you’re absolutely right, like I said the laws are very specific, they’re not allowed to dig a fox out of its set, if a fox goes to ground they have to leave that fox alone.. and absolutely we are into our second season of opposing the hunt the evidence of foxes being let out simply for the hunt is there and we’re.. we’re waiting to gather some more intel before we can put a strong case together to shut there hunts down.
And just to be clear when you say let out like they’re let out of their burrow or do you mean they’re caught especially and then let out ?
Oh yeah the latter.
So they’re caught especially, then they’re held and then they will be let out. It’s really to point out as well, people always ask, what about the welfare of the hounds and the hounds are bred to do this. The hounds are bred to do this but the hounds that can’t do it are shot. The hounds in the hours before the hunt are starved, they’re deprived of everything so when they get out the hunt men who control the hounds, they’re blood thirsty because they have no food they’re starved so they have a drive to have that instinct … hold on we have to eat otherwise we’re not going to do too good as a general thing so.. as far as the welfare of the hounds we care for those hounds far more than the hunt does.
Unfortunately because the fox is marked as a pest I don’t think it comes under any protective laws at all. you know we’ve had… the times this season we’ve actually gone out we’ve had quite a surprising response from the police who have attended, which was a big shock to us.
Where they have.. um the officer who came out to our opening sabotage of Oaklands was very much on our side.. but .. again was very reluctant to put in place and uphold the law which he wasn’t too familiar with which really pissed us off.
Because why are you a police officer… whether or not you are familiar with the law .. we had the law printed out and saved on our phones and we’ve got documents to show you the laws of hunting with hounds on foxes ……mmm … the old blue didn’t want to get involved but he was surprisingly ok with us trying to put an end to this.
And is it actually illegal what they are doing?
And it can’t be a cheap think for them to do so that’s even more sign of bourgeoisie exclusivity.
So when people in Australia, people think of hunting they think of duck hunters, your stereotypical bogan who drives with a couple of hunting stickers and hunting cages on the back tires that are to big for the car kind of deal. These people who hunt foxes on horse back are well to do, they’re lawyers, bankers, doctors, politicians, local council members, they feel that they are very well to do people. They have something called the stirrup cup where they drink wine that’s served to them on a silver platter while they’re on horseback just before the hunt.
And the fees to involved yourself in a hunt depending on its exclusivity can range anywhere from eight or nine hundred a year up to four and a half grand.
The Sydney Hunt Club is almost the same price as if someone was stupid enough to send their kid to a private school.
This is all about class, these people who are hunting these animals they have no welfare [concerns] for their hounds and they don’t care about animal welfare what-so-ever however you view the fox.
This is what they feel is their god given right as trying to molest the traditions from England. And they’re hunting over here… the white settlers invaded Australia and bought over the fox to continue the bullshit here. So these people are Liberal people who contribute to systems that are already in place to put the common person down.
As well as being an animals rights fight this is also a class fight we.. these people are barbaric, rich toffy wankers who simply think the saboteurs are uneducated peasants and it couldn’t you know be further from the truth.
I checked the website of the Sydney Hunt Club and there is no mention of the welfare of the foxes.