One of my hobbies as an activist is to write emails to people, using a pseudonym and seeing what results I get. Late last year someone told me that there was an issue between an estate and their local hunt, due to the hunt dumping carcasses on the estate to feed foxes.
The feeding of foxes for a hunt destroys several myths at once, that fox hunting was ever about controlling the fox population and more importantly that it had ever stopped since the hunting ban. There can be no reason for a hunt to feed foxes when that hunt is supposed to be chasing trails.
So I wrote to Lord Apsley, using the name “Anna Sewell” hoping that using a blatantly fake name would trick him into thinking that I was actually an equestrian person who was on his side:
Sent: 15 December 2020 16:32
To: Lord Apsley
Subject: Deer Offal offered to the VWH to feed foxes
Dear Lord Apsley,
I’m sorry for sending you an anonymous email, but it has come to my attention that your offer of deer offal to the VWH after reprimanding them for leaving carcasses on your estate, is being bandied about amongst a number of people.
I hope that the anti’s don’t get wind of it as they will certainly create a huge stink after the recent webinars nonsense.
I am hoping that forewarned is forearmed and that you can work out something before it get’s out. I have tried quashing the rumours but I fear I have not gotten anywhere.
Lord Apsley email@example.com
Re: Deer Offal offered to the VWH to feed foxes
I have no idea if you are monitoring this inbox for a repsonse (probably not given I have left this for some time), so I will send ‘in the blind’, on the offchance, regardless .
The joy of receiving an anonymous email is not then having the opportunity to discuss the contents with the sender, putting them right, or understanding their point of view. In the rapidly polarised nature of the world, I can only commend your refusal to have what I can assure would have been a well heard and measured discussion.
I am sure you wrote with the best intentions given you wished to forewarn me, however, the contents of your ‘warning’ are met with equal measures of amusement and confusion. Let me clarify a few things so you may be better informed before your next anonymous email.
I’m not sure if you are making a thinly veiled threat to inform anti-hunting groups that deer offal from deer shot on the Estate, and the wider area, by Robinson WIld Foods (and Owl Barn Larder) is sent to the hunt kennels? I have to assume not given your friendly tone and that you have said you are combatting any rumours.
The offal disposal is not a secret arrangement, and it is considered very kind of the VWH to offer such a disposal service. There is nothing clandestine about this arrangement, never has been. and has met with FSA approval on numerous site visits to Owl Barn Larder.
The offal is not ‘offered’ to the Hunt as it cannot be fed to the hounds or used for any useful purpose. It is an arrangement that benefits the Estate deer management as the Hunt kindly assumes any cost associated with its disposal for no obvious benefit to itself.
Antis know the Estate has a close relationship with the hunt anyway, I am not sure this crosses any further theshold on that front hence the confusion and amusement if there was some sort of threat!
You can now see that the particularly ill informed insinuation that I have somehow been hypocritical in letting the Hunt dispose of Estate shot deer offal doesn’t quite make sense. Let me further elaborate.
One of the fundamental requirements to the VWH being allowed to hunt on any Estate land is that they are to act within the law at all times. Lord Bathurst and I have made it plainly clear to all Masters, the Huntsman and Countryman (and I am even on record with a Guardian reporter!) that if they do break the law, Estate staff, and/or myself will simply call the Police to deal with it and ask the Hunt to leave.
I have no vested interest in the Hunt’s activities or its relationship with the Estate beyond a respect for its Masters and staff, the history of the association between the hunt and the Estate, and mild bemusement at the few friends I have who enjoy following some dogs chasing a rag around the countryside. Each to their own.
The dumping of rotten carcasses on any land is illegal, as is the feeding of fox cubs for the purpose of hunting.
When combined, and done without permisision on private land, this was a particularly egregious act taking some staggering liberties.
I think, on balance, my ‘reprimand’, which was in fact a simple email reminding the Masters’ that they are under obligation to ensure the Hunt and its’ employees act within the law, was warranted.
I also think, on balance, that there is no conflict of interest, or contradiction, in the offal disposal service offered by the hunt, and them being asked not to break the law.
The two are quite seperate, and to conflate any form of link between the two insuates a considerable level of ignorance and lack of understanding.
Any ‘rumours’ about this are sadly just that; the talk of ignorant and ill informed individuals with a limited understanding of what arrangements are in place, and my stance over any illegal activity by any individual on the Estate, Hunt or not. So again, I am grateful for your warning and attempts to squash anything, but I am ultimately confused and amused at both these ‘rumours’ and the individuals that think any of this amounts to anything worth discussing.
If you have read this far, well done, and thank you.
If you would like to discuss this further then do feel free to contact me as your good self and not a pseudonym!
Ben Bathurst, Lord Apsley
And so it ends, so the estate gives the Vale of White Horse the offal from the deer they kill as the hunt can dispose of it I assume through an incinerator in the same way that fallen stock is also disposed of.
More importantly the Vale of White Horse hunt have clearly upset Lord Apsley by dumping carcasses to feed foxes.
I thank Lord Apsley for his honesty, although I never did reply to his email.