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Pupils view bloodied remains of hunt during cross country run on Exmoor

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

Heather Holloway 12, with dad Richard near their home in Devon

Heather Holloway 12, with dad Richard near their home in Devon

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School pupils on a cross country run had to jog past mutilated animal carcasses after being sent into the path of a deer hunt.

Teachers at West Buckland School in North Devon plotted a route across Exmoor National Park - unaware of the clash.

The moorland jaunt soon turned to horror as participants as young as 12 had to weave past bloodied remains in the aftermath of the Devon and Somerset staghound hunt.

Dad Richard Holloway heard about the incident when his shaken daughter Heather, 12, came home from school.

Mr Holloway, 52, said: "They were charging around with their vehicles and the children saw deer bodies being hauled away on the back of quad bikes.

"It was in front of everybody, the kids could see everything. My daughter came home very upset.

"They didn't care about the children's safety. The bodies were shredded and ripped.

"I am totally against blood sports. I am not a campaigner or a hunt saboteur I just think it is cruel."

Headmaster John Vick apologised for the "disturbing" incident in his Easter end-of-term letter to parents who pay fees of up to £15,000 a year to send their kids to the 700-pupil independent day and boarding school.

But he blamed hunts followers for ignoring warnings that children were present.

He wrote: "I was very disturbed to learn that many of our runners, staff and spectators were alarmed by riders on quad bikes and horseback, as well as by some vehicles attached to the hunt.

"I am told there appeared to be little regard by some individuals following the hunt for the safety of the children.

"A small number appear to have ignored the efforts of teachers to alert them to the fact they were operating close to children."

Mr Vick assured parents he had sought an explanation from Guy Thomas-Everard, chairman of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.

In a statement issued by the school - established in 1858; motto "Read and Reap" - he added: "It was deeply unfortunate and regrettable the events clashed.

"This is the first time this has occurred and while no one came to any harm, we are working with Devon and Somerset Staghounds to understand how this happened and avoid it in future."

Mr Thomas-Everard apologised for the incident but said the men seen loading remains onto quad bikes were hunt followers and not an official part of the hunt.

He said: "If there was an incident at the school with parents speeding through the village, the headmaster would ask them to be more careful, and I will be doing the same with the hunt followers.

"We are sorry we ran into the event. We will take steps to stop it happening again."

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8 comments

  • harveypaulger  |  April 15 2014, 4:47PM

    I'm afraid these surveys about hunting are not really valid. I believe the last one, funded by the politically driven animal rights supporting RSPCA, along with their bedfellows LACS, posed a question which put hunting alongside badger baiting and dog fighting. Those two horrible and cruel activities have absolutely nothing in common with hunting whatsoever. I will accept however, that in a genuinely honest poll or survey, a small majority would probably be against hunting, but it would be nothing like 90%. Most people do not see hunting as a major issue and know very little about it. Nor do they particularly want to. For many years the public have been fed a steady stream of propaganda and misinformation by the animals rights lobby and the liberal left wing media. Much of that rubbish has been subconsciously digested and I have to say hunting supporters (including myself) are guilty of sitting back on our laurels and allowing this nonsense to go unchallenged. It is only in recent years we have got up and started to fight for what we believe. It needed to happen a long time ago. Hunting has an incredibly strong case and in the course of time I believe that useless piece of legislation, namely the Hunting Act will be consigned to the waste bin, where it belongs. Tony Blair was deeply uncomfortable with the ban. In his words "The more I learned, the more uneasy I became".

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  • Clued-Up  |  April 14 2014, 9:48AM

    harveypaulger may be OK about deer hunting, almost everyone else isn't. A recent UK survey shows the public view deer hunting as being very nearly as loathsome as dog-fighting and badger-baiting. I think the percentage of the public holding this view was around 90%. Deer and hare hunting were considered more objectionable than fox hunting - and 80% public opposed that.

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  • harveypaulger  |  April 14 2014, 9:02AM

    Well, I for one am very satisfied with the deer management situation on Exmoor and the staghunters I have met have always shown a great knowledge and genuine love of red deer. And yes, children should be taught compassion and respect for animals, but in a practical context. Proper management is essential to a good healthy deer population and it would be beneficial if children were taught a bit more about nature, predation. habitats, birth, life and death. Children wont be harmed by this, it would educate them to the reality of life in the countryside. It wont make them all pro hunting or anti hunting, but at least they would be able to make up their own minds without the continual contamination from the animal rights lobby and the fluffy bunny brigade.

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  • Clued-Up  |  April 11 2014, 2:34PM

    Deer hunting causes acute suffering to the deer - that's the unequivocal finding of a long, careful research project carried out by the University of Bristol's Veterinary School. Using blood and tissue analyses of deer hunted for typical distances the researchers found the suffering caused by being hunted was so extreme as to lead to the likelihood of death in 50% animals even if they had escaped the hunt. These animals' bodies were breaking down. No wonder the children were upset. They've probably been taught to treat animals with compassion and respect.

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  • zinboya  |  April 11 2014, 10:29AM

    Barri, Fox hunting is banned, Deer hunting/ management is NOT.

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  • harveypaulger  |  April 10 2014, 5:09PM

    This incident is probably unfortunate, but certainly not the end of the world. The Devon & Somerset Staghounds provide wonderful deer management and Exmoor enjoys one of the finest and healthiest red deer populations in Europe. To me, if my child saw these scenes I would explain what the staghounds did and leave them to make up their own minds. My daughter has seen inside a slaughter house, attended livestock markets and has a well balanced attitude to the food chain and life and death. And no, she is not mean or cruel. Just a practical animal lover. West Buckland School is a rural school and the surrounding countryside is one of livestock farming, hunting and shooting. Maybe if certain parents are offended by this incident, they should seek an urban education for their children. And I do hope this does not influence West Buckland to turn anti hunting. Situated where it is, such a move would be extremely counter-productive. Tolerance and impartiality are everything.

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  • Pink_Diesel  |  April 10 2014, 1:49PM

    Shock! Horror! Children see a dead animal!!!! (Better not watch nature programs on TV?)

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  • Barri  |  April 10 2014, 12:16PM

    Clear breach of the Hunting with Hounds Act. Proof here that it's not being implemented.

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