A charity worker is being investigated by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust after it was claimed he fired a shotgun over the heads of passing hunt supporters on New Year’s Day.
Four shots can be heard on video recorded by the secretary of the North Cornwall Hunt as they proceeded on a public road near Bodmin Moor. The BBC reports police confirmed they had been contacted over “shots being fired”, but a spokesman for the force said: “Police have made enquiries and spoken to the interested parties. No crime has been recorded”.
Spent shot and debris from trees fell onto the riders and road around them after the gun was discharged, according to reports. Around half of those riding out were children, one of whom experienced “stress and trauma” after the shooting.
A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: However people’s views on hunting may differ, firing a gun in the proximity of where children and adults are riding is not an acceptable form of protest.
“The riders were taking part in a legal activity and were riding on a public highway. It is totally irresponsible and unacceptable behaviour”.
While Cornwall Wildlife Trust confirmed they were investigating the claims by the hunt, they said no action had been taken against their member of staff who, it is claimed, fired the shots. In a statement they said the organisation was “aware of an allegation made on social media in respect of an incident involving a member of staff in a private capacity… the organisation takes any such allegation very seriously so, if necessary, it can take appropriate action”.
Speaking to Horse and Hound, North Cornwall Master and huntsman Ralph Mankee said 2017 was the third year in the row they had encountered problems in this area, and so he had taken the hounds on a different route to avoid the individual, meaning he was not present for the shots.
Mr. Mankee told the magazine: “He does it simply to intimidate and threaten, to actually use a shotgun to intimidate, I would say is threatening behaviour. I think he should have his shotgun licence revoked”.
In the video other members of the hunt can be heard talking as they rode down the road, and one remarks just before the shots are fired: “this is the corner where the sabs were last year”. ‘Sabs’ is a common abbreviation of ‘hunt saboteurs’, groups of anti-hunting activists who have been noted for their at times extremely violent behaviour towards hunt supporters.