The RSPCA has voiced support for claims by antis that gamekeepers in the Peak District broke the law. That’s despite police saying the gamekeepers did nothing wrong.
At the same time, the charity says it’s not going to try to prosecute the gamekeepers.
For weeks, animal rights extremist group ‘Hunt Investigation Team’ has been persecuting two gamekeepers on Moscar Estate, with a sustained social media cyberbullying campaign and encouraging its members to stalk them. Commenters on HIT’s Facebook page have admitted following one of the keepers in their car to see where they were going and what they were up to. HIT admits its own members are being investigated by Derbyshire Rural Crime Team.
The intimidation, death and torture threats proved too much for one of the keepers, who quit.
HIT called in the RSPCA, claiming the keepers were abusing animals in Larsen traps it said were set up on national park land. Police say both claims are not true.
In an online statement titled ‘Statement on Larsen trap at Moscar site’, the charity risks its reputation by disputing the police conclusion there was “no illegal activity” on the estate. It insists the only reason the gamekeepers are not in court is because of the coronavirus lockdown.
“Due to the severe pressures anticipated in the court system due to the Covid-19 crisis the CPS issued interim guidance to be applied when reviewing cases,” the statement says. “Having regard to the evidence in this case and in accordance with this guidance, the decision was made that there would not be a realistic prospect of conviction.”
It’s unclear what evidence RSPCA is referring to since police say there isn’t any. Conversely, HIT has openly admitted breaking the law.
The RSPCA statement thanks HIT and its followers for alerting it to animal cruelty, effectively saying the Moscar gamekeepers are guilty. The RSPCA laments being unable to prosecute due to the lockdown.
“We appreciate the strength of feeling about this but we would like to reassure people that we are as committed as ever to ending animal cruelty,” it says. “Where a case meets the CPS guidelines for a prosecution we will prosecute.”
Despite RSPCA jeopardising its credibility by siding with the antis, HIT was not appreciative, slamming the charity as “weak”.
“This is a shocking state of affairs and a very weak statement from RSPCA regarding their inaction,” the group complained in a Facebook post. “Wildlife on shooting estates is in grave danger. We need organisations like the RSPCA to be bold and innovative. Please contact them to keep the pressure on them. Please share. HIT.”
Besides online persecution and tampering with traps, HIT members have also admitted trespassing and encouraged others to, plus illegally setting up trailcams on the private estate.