Hunt Saboteurs Association

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File:Hunt Saboteurs Association (logo).jpg
The logo of the Hunt Saboteurs Association UK.

The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) is an organization that uses direct action to stop fox hunting. The HSA have been using the same basic tactics since their inception in 1963; the underlying principle being to disrupt a day's hunting.


In 1964 John Prestige founded the Hunt Saboteurs Association in Brixham, England, after being assigned to report on the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, where "he witnessed the hunters drive a deer into a village and kill her." [1] Designed to "violently oppose blood sports," [1] the HSA eschewed parliamentary reforms and instead went directly out onto hunting grounds to do everything they could, sometimes breaking the law and being consequently arrested, to prevent the killing of British wildlife.[1] "Within a year, HSA groups appeared across England in Devon, Somerset, Avon, Birmingham, Hampshire and Surrey. Ronnie Lee, founder of the animal rights group Band of Mercy (and later the Animal Liberation Front), began his activism within an HSA group in Luton, England. HSA now operates throughout Europe and North America. Hunt saboteurs often refer to themselves as "sabs", however they are typically called "antis" by hunts; short for anti-hunter.

Early evidence

A group of hunt saboteurs both appear and are a critical part of the plot in the 1963 film The List of Adrian Messenger.


The HSA uses tactics such as: hunting horns and whistles to misdirect hounds, spraying scent dullers, laying false trails, and locking gates to interfere with the progress of a hunt.[2] In the mid-1990s members used a "gizmo" (a portable cassette tape player linked up to a megaphone or other portable amplification equipment) to play the sound of hounds in cry, causing the dogs to break off the chase. These are examples of "non violent direct action tactics".[3]

The HSA has expanded into Europe and countries such as the United States and Canada, so their tactics have shifted depending on the type of hunting being disrupted. The HSA now routinely disrupt deer, waterfowl, turkey, mink, and hare hunts, as well as angling and other types of fishing.[4] As a result, numerous states have passed laws forbidding the disruption of legal hunting activities.[citation needed]


The HSA are often involved in rows with hunts and landowners, which sometimes lead to violence. Due to the nature of the HSA's activities members are often[weasel words] prosecuted for breaking the law. A public order act was created to help control HSA members on private land. Part V Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA) Section 68(1) created offences in connection with trespass by hunt saboteurs including giving police officers the ability to "direct trespassers on land (who are there with the common purpose of residing there for any period) to leave the land where the occupier has taken steps to ask them to do so, and either:they have damaged the land; or they have used threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to the occupier, the occupier's family, employees or agents; or between them they have 6 or more vehicles on the land".

The Act also created the offence of aggravated trespass which was formed (in part) to give the police power over HSA activists;"a person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land in the open air and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land in the open air, does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect: a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity, b) of obstructing that activity, or c) of disrupting that activity".[5][6]

Hunt members are sometimes also prosecuted. In June 2015, HSA members attempting to rescue a deer which was being hunted illegally. The members were cleared of aggravated trespass and it was deemed that the terriermen involved had caused 'unnecessary suffering' to the deer.[7]

The HSA are often considered violent by many hunts and landowners.[8][9] Hunt saboteurs have been linked with several violent episodes including the death of hunt supporter,Trevor Morse.[10] In January 2015 a video emerged online of a huntmaster being beaten unconscious by masked saboteurs using iron bars.[11] However, it is unconfirmed whether these saboteurs were affiliated with the HSA or were independent saboteurs; the tactics condoned by the HSA are "non-violent, direct action tactics... it hurts nobody or no thing".[3]

This video emerged after an earlier video in which a hunt saboteur, standing in a field, was shown being run down by a mounted hunt member, resulting in hospitalization.[12]

A hunt master in 2005 was also arrested for using violence against hunt saboteurs in Essex, resulting in a possible broken wrist and concussion for one member. Vehicles belonging to Hunt Saboteurs members were also damaged.[13]


HSA UK publishes a quarterly journal, Howl.[14]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Best, Steven (ed), Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?, Lantern Books, 2004
  2. HSA Tactics Book
  3. 3.0 3.1 "About the HSA". Hunt Saboteurs Association. Retrieved May 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. "". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  5. "Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  6. "Trespass and Nuisance on Land". Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  7. "Hunt Saboteurs Praised by Judge after being Cleared of Aggravated Trespass". Hunt Saboteur Association. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  8. "The sadistic sport of the hunt saboteurs makes you long for the good old days". The Spectator. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  9. "We have to unmask the anti-hunt thugs". 31 January 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  10. "The deepening countryside 'war' over the hunting ban". 21 March 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  11. "Video: Watch: Huntmaster attacked with iron bars by masked saboteurs - Telegraph". 29 January 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  12. Shammas, John. "Watch moment hunt saboteur struck by horse suffering broken ribs and a collapsed lung". the Mirror online. Mirror. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  13. "The Cycle of Violence - Hunt Master Arrested". Hunt Saboteur Association. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  14. Howl Subscription Information

External links

National Groups