Last week’s brutal massacre of Illona Mitchell’s animal companions in Spain by bloodthirsty huntsmen reminds us that hunting needs to be stopped, period. The executions of several of Mitchell’s dogs, and the gouging of a horse’s eye, came as retribution for Mitchell’s refusal to allow Spanish hunters to carry out their dastardly deeds on her property. As described in the 2013 documentary A Minority Pastime, hunting with hounds (which is banned in the UK) is incredibly destructive and dangerous not only for the targeted foxes, deer, hare, mink and other wild animals, but also for homeowners and companion animal bystanders. The aristocratic hunting “parties” in the UK (groups more akin to gangs), with their horses and hounds, run roughshod over the entire British countryside destroying public and private property, killing companion animals, and terrorizing anyone or thing that gets in their way. The hunting hounds themselves are victims as well, trained and exploited to satiate the vicious hunters’ bloodlust, only to be murdered once they become old or their “production” lags.
Whether hunting with or without hounds, it is a tradition that must be stopped by any means necessary. As an anarchist, I’m largely ambivalent about legal bans on hunting. I feel much the same way about legal hunting bans as I do about laws prohibiting murder: they merely codify something that must exist with or without the backing of the state. Hunting must be stopped because of its inherent cruelty. More importantly though, because animals are not ours to use, exploit, eat, or torture.
Legal bans on hunts suffer from the same defect as all other government decrees — the stated intent behind the law is perverted in its enforcement to such an extent as to render the law virtually moot. In the UK, the hunting ban is flat out ignored, with hunt scum openly flouting the law under the protection of the police. Some in the UK’s pro-hunting community even voice their support for the hunting ban. They boast that it gives the appearance of concern for animals and pacifies much of British society thus allowing the illegal acts to continue unabated.
Behind the scenes those who voice opposition to bloodsports are frequently threatened, harassed, and assaulted just like Illona Mitchell by angry hunt scum and their groupies. The police not only look the other way while innocent animals are excruciatingly torn apart limb from limb in front of frenzied human audiences, they frequently aid and abet the tortuous killing by preventing hunt saboteur activists who seek to stop it. With this gross distortion of the law as our modern day model for a state-enforced hunting ban, it’s clear that extralegal measures are essential.
Hunt sabs play a vital role in helping animals evade the crazed brutes. Whether by destroying traps and hunting towers, throwing off the hunt hounds, or simply monitoring the hunts and making the public aware, sabs perform an incredibly courageous act of civil disobedience reminiscent of the Underground Railroad. Only in this underground, the beneficiaries are animals who simply want to live wild and free. Bite Back and a few other magazines and websites serve as anonymous, underground media through which the sabs and other animal liberationists can document and share information about their tactics and victories. In a world ruled by states and corporations who tremble at the thought of not being able to dominate animals, such revolutionary activities and communication about them must thrive underground lest the resistance be locked up.
There is much less of an organized hunt sab presence in the United States, where several states have “hunter harassment” laws or even stronger “right to hunt/fish” provisions in their constitutions. This comes as no surprise in a country where prevalence of “meat” eating is highest, and a general air of male dominance, aggression, self-righteousness and superiority reigns supreme. Thus, North American hunt sabs must be all the more careful when hunting the hunters. But North American hunt sabs need not look exactly the same as their counterparts across the pond. There are downsides to sabbing with a group, especially in an environment where activism is constantly under siege from state and private intelligence. Solo-sabbing can be just as effective without any of the attendant risk of having a snitch as your partner. It doesn’t take more than one person to successfully disrupt a hunter’s day in the woods or at the shoreline.
Like other shameful traditions, hunting too will go by the wayside as humanity’s moral compass progresses. But we are far from that day. Present day humanity’s existence is built on the backs of animals, so extricating ourselves from this cruel way of life will not be possible without a dedicated band of criminals, which we must unfortunately call them for the time being.