British Police Reach £30,000 Settlement with Anti-Hunt Protesters

The Wiltshire police department recently reached a £30,000 settlement with 10 animal rights activists who were arrested in October 2001 while protesting a pheasant hunt.

Gun-handling safety guidelines require a shooter to use a breaking type shotgun and to break the shotgun if approached by a member of the public. Animal rights activists developed a tactic whereby they would approach and stand directly next to shooters, forcing them to halt and break their guns.

At an October 2001 pheasant hunt, activists used this tactic. Police, however, over-reacted and arrested the activists on charges of physically assaulting the shooters. They were detained at a police station, interrogated, and then released on bail. All charges were eventually dropped.

Police wouldn’t discuss details of the settlement, except to confirm the £30,000 amount and that the settlement was reached without any admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of the police department.


Protesters get £30k compensation. The BBC, February 15, 2005.

£30,000 police payout for animal rights protesters. The Daily Mail, February 15, 2005.

Judge Hears Arguments in Pheasant Hunting Case

In July a federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals aimed at ending a ring-tailed pheasant hunting season at Cape Cod National Seashore.

The groups filed the lawsuit last fall and attempted to obtain an injunction to stop the hunt, which was turned down by the judge.

The groups that the National Park Service has never performed an environmental impact study of the pheasant hunting, and that such a study would likely find against the hunt. The case is complicated by the fact that the ring-tailed pheasant is a non-native species to Cape Cod. Every hundreds of the birds are bought by the state, trucked to Cape Cod National Seashore, and released the night before the October hunt.

Kimberly Ockene, a lawyer representing the animal rights groups, was quoted by the Boston Globe as asking,

Why should the federal government be supporting something as inhumane as this on national parkland for a few hundred hunters? They’re supporting and authorizing a program to truck in nonnative species that are farm-raised and completely unprepared to survive in the world.

According to the Globe, he practice of stocking pheasants for hunting began in 1906 and Massachusetts releases 40,000 pheasant across the state every year.

Eugenia Carris, an assistant U.S. attorney for the National Park Service, told the judge that the stocking of pheasants would likely be phased out as the Park Service restores the area’s natural greenery and native game birds return. Carris said,

The park has to balance various interests, the interests of people who want to use the land in a traditional recreational way with the interests of people who want to abolish hunting. We’re talking about a few hundred birds that don’t live that long. Thy are not invasive. There’s no evidence there’s significant effect on the environment.


Pheasant stocking is target of lawsuit. Andrea Estes, Boston Globe, July 16, 2003.

RSPCA Begins to Implode Over Animal Rights

The oldest animal protection organization in the world, Great Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is in the process of imploding as animal rights activists and their opponents vie for influence and control of the group. Evidence of the internal problems at the RSCPA were evident earlier this month when the organization expelled Olympic show jumper Richard Meade for his views on Hunting followed almost immediately by revelations of impropriety by Meade’s opponents.

Meade, who won three show jumping medals at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic games, was expelled by a unanimous vote of the RSCPA’s governing board. Meade’s offense was to trying to convince the RSPCA to abandon its anti-hunting and pro-animal rights stance in favor of returning the organization closer to its original mission of protecting animal welfare.

Meade actively courted members of hunting organizations, urging them to join and take part in the RSPCA to rescue the organization from the animal rights extremists who increasingly are setting the agenda at the RSPCA. In a December 1996 letter to hunters, for example, Meade urged them to “start to play a part in steering the RSPCA back to its traditional role of caring for animals, and away from animal rights…. So much more could be done to promote animal welfare of this charity were not being diverted to animal rights campaigning.”

This was more than the RSPCA could bear, and argued that Meade’s campaign to overturn the charity’s anti-hunting position “damaged the best interests of the charity.” After a British Court ruled that the RSPCA could exclude people who applied for membership in order to “infiltrate” the group, the organization took action against Meade and others (though apparently not against the animal rights members in its midst).

Meade’s expulsion was quickly followed by revelations that the charity spent almost 40 thousand pounds investigating him. The public also got a peek into the radical views of those in positions of influence at the RSPCA when a dossier which was part of an RSPCA investigation of ruling council member David Mawson was leaked to the media. The dossier revealed that Mawson urged the RSPCA to condemn the Queen — the patron of the RSPCA — after she was photographed killing a pheasant.

Mawson also made false allegations against a number of individuals, including RSPCA colleagues who did not accept his animal rights views. A Sunday Times (UK) story noted that the RSPCA had planned a campaign against medical research and was stopped only by the Charity Commission, which is a government watchdog that oversees charity groups in the UK.


Leak reveals new split in RSPCA ranks. David Leppard, The Sunday Times (UK), June 17, 2001.

Olympic star expelled as hunt lobby loses battle for RSPCA. Rob Evans and David Hencke, The Guardian, June 15, 2001.