News

Activism to continue despite guilty verdict

By David Rak

A guilty verdict and good behaviour bond handed down in Seymour Magistrates’ Court is not going to save Victoria’s hunt clubs from animal activist Liam Barwick.

Even Seymour police have been targeted by activist members of the Melbourne Hunt Saboteurs, protesting Barwick's arrest.

The court penalty was meant to stop Barwick from continuing to protest and disrupt legal fox hunts.

On December 12 he was arrested after a demonstration at a Pyalong hunt in August, eventually pleading guilty to breaching a personal safety intervention order while protesting at the hunt as part of MHS.

Mitchell police service area Inspector Peter Koger said Barwick escaped a conviction with the good behaviour bond

Insp Kroger said a raft of charges had been consolidated into a “single charge of breaching a personal safety intervention order by engaging in a course of conduct of stalking-like behaviour”.

After Barwick was arrested, balaclava-clad MHS members picketed Seymour police station, waving a large banner that read ‘This Police Force Supports Blood Sports’.

Barwick said foxes hunted by baying dog packs and big numbers of mounted hunt club members suffered a stress beyond the extremities for which they were biologically equipped to cope.

“Yes, for the sake of our native species, we should always seek to control fox populations,” Barwick said.

“But something as horrifically cruel and ineffective as the blood sport that is fox hunting must be stopped.

“No animal has evolved to cope with being chased by 40 dogs accompanied by dozens of people — many on horseback — shouting and horn-blowing, all trying to prevent the animal’s escape.”

Barwick alleged the Pyalong hunt had not been legal and had breached multiple codes of welfare under the hunting act.

“The purpose of the codes is to prevent cruelty and encourage the considerate treatment of animals hunted or used for hunting,” he said.

“The codes do not approve of hunting where one animal is permitted to inflict an injury that causes another animal to suffer. Dogs used for hunting must not be permitted to worry, maim or injure animals.

“The codes say foxes hunted using foxhounds and horses should not be headed or deliberately diverted for the purpose of prolonging the hunt. A fox that has gone to ground should not be pursued again on that hunt.

“Fox hunting in Australia has zero overall conservation value. Rather, these hunts are nothing more than an excuse for Victoria's rich and heartless to dress in stupid costumes and get off on defenceless animals literally being torn apart.”