To rent it or buy the 90-minute version on Vimeo, visit Vimeo.com/ondemand/263616
Here’s a summary of the advice our panel came up with:
1. Don’t “undersell” the antis – they are very organised and thorough
2. Check their propaganda – they sometimes use out of date photos and manipulate videos or you might recognise an area
3. More of us than them – groups of antis only total hundreds of people and are led by a few dozen key figures
4. Silent treatment – no point responding to daily online onslaught by antis as it can just gain them extra publicity
5. Do the right thing – if you’re following the rules, the police and antis can’t fault you
6. Keep in touch – create groups (Whatsapp/Facebook) to keep in touch with neighbours and the local rural wildlife crime team
7. Put the animal on the floor, preferably before they reach you – it’s a lot easier to deal with antis if you’re not carrying the deer you just shot
8. Report crimes – criminal damage to high seats or anything else should always be reported. Include the words ‘animal rights extremists’ in all reports. We want that phrase to cross Home Office desks
1. Immediately stop the shoot – game over as soon as antis appear
2. Keep calm – do not engage when encountering as it will be used as propaganda
3. Nominate a speaker – only one person should deal with the antis
4. Gather evidence – video everything, record vehicles, shoes, rings, tattoos and any other distinguishing marks and simultaneously upload if you can
5. Call the police – tell them animal rights extremists are committing aggravated trespass
6. Car etiquette – don’t leave identifiable belongings in cars such as envelopes with addresses visible
7. Risk assessment – pre-shoot huddle to lay down rules if there is an encounter
8. Stranger danger – watch out for any unusual cars or people around an area in the days before a shoot
Unoffensive Animal is one of the leaders of the pack of animal rights extremist groups, writes Ben O’Rourke. It regularly posts stories on its website about attacks on butchers’ shops, arson at farms or the ‘liberation’ of turkeys, mink, chickens and other creatures.
It paints itself as a major cog in the global animal rights machine. Yet it only has 92 donors on Patreon at the time of writing. They donate less than £500 a month. So why does anyone care what they do?
“There are not many of these people,” says Tim Bonner of Countryside Alliance. “We’re not talking about hoards or an army of people coming after us. There are a few hundred and there are a few dozen who are the key players.”
Bonner was speaking at Fieldsports Britain’s webinar about how to deal with antis, with other guest speakers Ian Jensen, a former Metropolitan policeman who specialised in extremism and terrorism, Ollie Williams, a ‘Love Island’ contender who received death threats after revelations he enjoyed hunting and Peter Glenser, a barrister who defends shooters and was a former chairman of BASC.
“We know who they are and they’re a small number of people,” says Bonner. “They use whatever media at the time – social media being the current one – to generate support… This isn’t about a mass of public opinion, it’s about a small number of people… They want to create the impression there are lots of people who dislike what we do.”
Jensen says the groups are political. “They see the root politics as a way of getting the changes they want… We used to say we never met a protester or campaign that they wouldn’t join because if you can find like-minded people… people with similar political views, in all likelihood they may come and join your campaign then make your campaign look like it’s more popular than actually, in reality, it is.”
When Jensen began, things were very different.
“I come from a time when they were just swapping over from standing on Oxford Street with a table and getting well-meaning people coming over and hand out leaflets with an ill-treated beagle lying on the floor… often the pictures could have been 10 or 15 years old,” he says. “But if you want to pull on peoples’ hear strings, if you want to get funding for your campaign to try to influence political opinion, you want to draw on the heartstrings and emotions, because animals are a very emotion thing. So if you can put a picture of a poorly-treated beagle or a monkey with all sorts of wires coming out of its head, providence doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it was in Britain, it doesn’t matter if it was in Malaysia.”
Ollie Williams was persecuted by the media after appearing on ‘Lover Island’ simply because he is a landowner, hunter and shooter.
“They were sitting outside my house, a couple of them tried to walk up my drive so we eventually got security in… it was pretty scary… When I came back I turned my phone on and it didn’t work for an hour because there were so many messages. My number got leaked so I had to change that… There were a couple of messages left on voicemail, ‘I will kill you in the next 12 months, I know where you live, I know where you work’… ‘I will gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon’.”
Some of the threats are part of ongoing investigations that he can’t talk about. He blames the media for feeding the extremists.
“If I walk around the street they could just chuck a bottle of whatever over me, you never know, that’s the scary thing these days, that’s the way a lot of people go down.”
On the panel are:
Ian Jensen, former Metropolitan Police, who now helps shoots and shooting interests deal with the threat of antis. You can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Glenser QC and former BASC chairman. Click here for BASC’s advice
Tim Bonner, chief executive, Countryside Alliance. Here is the CA’s advice
Ollie Williams, who had to have police protection from antis after his appearance on TV’s Love Island