The Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunt has been accused of causing “mayhem” on a road after allegedly losing control of its hounds and nearly causing a traffic accident.
The incident, which was reported to police, happened last week on the Gordon to Greenlaw road in the Scottish Borders and left a motorist “very shaken”.
As a result, an animal welfare group has accused the Buccleuch Hunt of endangering road users due to an alleged “inability” to control its dogs and called on the Scottish Government to tighten hunting legislation.
The Buccleuch Hunt said in response, however, that at no time were its hounds out of control and that no-one was placed in danger.
The incident happened on Wednesday, 15 January. Debbie Smith, who was driving along the A6105, told The League Against Cruel Sports Scotland that she was forced to brake suddenly when a mounted huntsman jumped onto the road in front of her car.
The man on the horse blew a horn but the hounds were all over the road again and then jumped back into the field, some of them were running down the main road. It was mayhem causing traffic to come to a standstill in both directions. Debbie Smith
Smith said: “A man on horseback jumped over the hedgerow at the side of the road on my nearside on to the eastbound carriageway immediately in front of my car, causing me to brake harshly to prevent hitting them.
“I then saw all the hounds jumping the hedge on to the road and then jump into the parallel fields with their noses to the ground. The man on the horse blew a horn but the hounds were all over the road again and then jumped back into the field, some of them were running down the main road. It was mayhem causing traffic to come to a standstill in both directions.”
Ms Smith said she was “very shaken” by the incident and reported it to Police Scotland at the time.
She added: “I was worried about the hounds getting run over. I called the police once I managed to slowly drive away from the scene after being harangued from a dismounted male rider telling me I was holding up the traffic.
“I was worried as the dogs appeared out of control and I was concerned for the safety of road users and that of the animal the hounds were obviously chasing, it also appeared to me that the hounds were in a highly excitable state.”
Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland (LACS), claimed the incident was another example of “hunts having absolutely no regard for anything other than the pursuit of their so called sport.”
“This was an extremely distressing incident for Debbie Smith who found herself caught up in the middle of a hunt to the detriment of her own safety while witnessing hounds, endangering not only themselves but other road users due to the inability of the hunt to control them,” Marsland added.
“When the Scottish Government strengthens the current law and no more than two dogs can be used, incidents like this will be completely avoided.”
However, the Scottish Countryside Alliance denied the allegations and accused LACS of making “vexatious comments”.
Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart said: “The vexatious comments from the LACS spokesperson who wasn’t present, simply highlights the desperate attempts the animal rights campaigners will go to to influence unwarranted changes to the much needed pest control service offered by Scotland’s foxhound packs.”
Stewart explained that on completion of legal pest control services, one or two of the Buccleuch foxhounds moved close to the A6105 while travelling towards their transport home.
A huntsman then moved onto the shoulder of the road to prevent the hounds venturing onto the highway, he added.
A single vehicle was observed some distance away, but at no time were the hounds out of control, Stewart continued, adding that no-one was placed in danger and that a representative for the Buccleuch foxhounds would make themselves available to speak with Police Scotland should the need arise.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report at 3.10pm on Wednesday, 15 January, relating to hunt activities around the A6105 near Gordon. Officers checked the area and no issues were found. Assurances were given to the member of the public who called.”
A spokesman for the Duke of Buccleuch said he is not involved with the hunt.
Photo thanks to iStock/Chris Strickland.