Fury as hunt kennels attacked

A COUNTRYSIDE campaign group last night denounced hunt saboteurs as “rural terrorists” after horses and hounds were released and fires started at a Suffolk kennels.

A COUNTRYSIDE campaign group last night denounced hunt saboteurs as “rural terrorists” after horses and hounds were released and fires started at a Suffolk kennels.

Police and the fire service were called shortly after 1am yesterday after staff at the Essex and Suffolk Hunt kennels in Layham, near Hadleigh, discovered the break-in.

They were horrified to find 82 hounds and five horses had been freed, and the gates to the premises left wide open onto a road.

The culprits had also set fire to a fence and a wheelie bin and had used an aerosol to spray the words “hunt scum” on the road.

The attack on the premises comes just a fortnight after the start of the hunting season - although last night the Hunt Saboteurs Association stressed none of its members were responsible for the incident.

Huntsman Gary Thorpe, 36, said fortunately all of the animals were safe and no accident had been caused on the road.

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He added: “We are appalled. They let all the hounds and horses out of their stables and left the gates wide open so they could get on the road.

“Thankfully this did not happen, but that was more by luck than anything else or they could have caused a serious accident.

“These people call themselves animal lovers, but what kind of animal lover does this.

“We are hunting completely within the law and they still persist in coming out and disrupting what we are doing.

“It is very worrying when they are prepared to set fire to something and release your animals in the middle of the night.”

He said they had been “getting a lot of grief” every Saturday from saboteurs.

Liz Mort, eastern region spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance, said: "I think this is terrible. People like Mr Thorpe are trying very hard to hunt within the law and they are still being targeted by these rural terrorists.

"They call themselves animal lovers, but by setting fire to the place and letting these animals loose, they have proved they are anything but animal lovers. I think their actions are completely deplorable.”

However, a spokesman for the Hunt Saboteurs Association said: “I can say categorically no member of the HSA would take any action that would endanger the life of hunting hounds and horses. We care for their welfare.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police confirmed they had been called to deal with the incident and that officers were investigating.

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