Hunting hounds found with TB near Aylesbury

Dog - Beagle - Hound

11:02am 8th March 2017
(Updated 6:05am 9th March 2017)

Campaigners claim at least 40 hunting dogs have been put down near Aylesbury, because they were infected with bovine TB.

They're linked with the Kimblewick Hunt.

They've told us the infected hounds were discovered in December and that 120 dogs are now being kept in kennels and tested regularly.

But The League Against Cruel Sports says the impact of this is 'huge', calling for fox hunting to be stopped to minimise the risk to farm animals.

Eduardo Gonçalves, CEO of the League, which received a tip off about the outbreak from the organisation Hounds Off, said:

“The implications of this outbreak are huge. We already know that restricting the movement of animals in the countryside is the only effective way of controlling bTB, but thousands of hunt hounds are free to chase from field to field, farm to farm and across private and National Trust land pretty much on a daily basis during the hunting season.

"How on earth can this be allowed to continue now we know that at least some hounds have caught the disease?

“It would be a farce if hunting was allowed to continue while bovine TB is rife. All hunting with dogs – much of which is already illegal – must be suspended with immediate effect at least until bTB is under control. To do anything else – or to do nothing – would raise serious questions as to who is really in charge of looking after our countryside.

“There are more than 50 hunts operating in parts of the country where bTB is particularly widespread. Are we looking at the real reason why the disease can’t be controlled?”

The League estimates that there are more than 3,000 hunting hounds in the England Btb epidemic zone alone, which may be out in the countryside an average of two days a week during the six-month hunting season.

Although hunting with hounds was banned by the Hunting Act 2004, hunts continue to take place.

These usually claim to be ‘trail’ hunting or hunting under one of the exemptions of the Act, but the League believes these are false claims and most are hunting illegally.

Joe Hashman, founder of www.houndsoff.co.uk, an organisation which supports people negatively affected by hunts said:

"It is because Hounds Off works with local people in local communities that we are able to find out things which might otherwise be kept secret.

"With the link between the Kimblewick Hunt hounds and bovine tuberculosis now confirmed, Hounds Off calls for the immediate blanket suspension of all hunting by all packs of hounds pending further investigations and enquiries."

Following a tip off, supporters of Hounds Off discovered the outbreak after noticing that riders of the Kimblewick Hunt, which is based near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, were wearing different uniforms than normal.

Conversations with hunt supporters revealed that other hunts were riding in the area because the Kimblewick’s pack of hounds had been euthanised after contracting bTB. Information given to Hounds Off included claims that the dogs have contracted bTB after eating meat from infected cattle, and that at least 40 dogs had been euthanised.

A spokesperson for the hunt told us:

"Defra was notified immediately that bTB was suspected in December and the Kimblewick Hunt have subsequently acted upon all advice they have been given with regards to implementing increased biosecurity measures in order to ensure it is contained.

"The Kimblewick voluntarily and immediately suspended hunting activities with their own hounds on 11th December.

"The Kimblewick hounds have not been in contact with any other packs of hounds since the initial case was suspected, and a monitoring and testing protocol has been rolled out across the country.

"The Kimblewick Hunt has been working alongside Defra, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Public Health England and the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) in order to ensure that bTB has been contained. No other cases have been reported.

"The hunt - like many others across the country - operates a fallen stock service to farmers under the guidance of DEFRA. The Kimblewick hounds are routinely fed fallen stock in compliance with current animal by-products legislation.

"We are waiting for Animal and Plant Health Agency's epidemiology report that might give details of the source of infection, however it would appear that it is most likely that the hounds contracted it from eating meat from a contaminated bovine.

"Testing continues on the Kimblewick hounds in line with advice given from veterinary and scientific experts during this very difficult time for the hunt staff and their families."

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