Hunt Saboteurs Association

The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) is a United Kingdom organisation that uses hunt sabotage as a means of direct action to stop fox hunting.[1] It was founded in 1963, with its first sabotage event occurring at the South Devon Foxhounds on the 26th of December (Boxing Day), 1963.[2][3]

Hunt Saboteurs Association
Formation1963 (59 years ago)
FounderJohn Prestige
Founded atBrixham, England
TypeAnimal rights group
Legal statusActive
PurposeNon-violent direct action against fox hunting
United Kingdom (with international affiliates)
MethodsDirect action, hunt sabotage
Membership (2021)
58 affiliated groups
SecessionsBand of Mercy/Animal Liberation Front (1972)


In 1963, John Prestige founded the Hunt Saboteurs Association in Brixham, England, after being assigned to report on the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, where "he witnessed the hunters drive a deer into a village and kill her."[4]

Within a year, HSA affiliates were founded across England in Devon, Somerset, Avon, Birmingham, Hampshire and Surrey; the HSA now operates throughout Europe and North America.

Ronnie Lee, founder of the animal rights group Band of Mercy (a forerunner to the Animal Liberation Front), began his activism with an HSA group in Luton, England.


The HSA uses tactics including hunting horns and whistles to misdirect hounds, spraying scent dullers, laying false trails, and locking gates to interfere with the progress of a hunt.[5] In the mid-1990s, members used a "gizmo" (a portable cassette tape player linked up to a megaphone or other portable amplification equipment) to play the sound of hounds in cry, causing the dogs to break off the chase. These are documented examples of HSA tactics.[6]

The HSA has expanded into Europe, Canada and the United States, and have adapted their tactics depending on the type of hunting being disrupted. The HSA have disrupted deer, waterfowl, turkey, mink and hare hunts, as well as angling and other types of fishing.[7] As a result, some US states have passed laws forbidding the disruption of legal hunting activities.[8]

HSA UK has published a quarterly journal, Howl since 1973.


Hunt saboteurs have been seriously injured after clashes with hunters.[9][10]

A public order act was created to help control HSA members on private land. Part V Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA) Section 68(1) created offences in connection with trespass by hunt saboteurs, including giving police officers the power to "direct trespassers on land (who are there with the common purpose of residing there for any period) to leave the land where the occupier has taken steps to ask them to do so, and either: they have damaged the land; or they have used threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to the occupier, the occupier's family, employees or agents; or between them they have 6 or more vehicles on the land".[11]

The Act also created the offence of aggravated trespass which was formed (in part) to give the police power over HSA members and actions: "a person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land in the open air and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land in the open air, does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect: a) of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity, b) of obstructing that activity, or c) of disrupting that activity".[12][13]

See also


  1. "Meet The People Who Throw Themselves In Front Of Hunters". The Dodo. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  2. "Ten years on from the fox hunting ban, has anything really changed?". Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  3. "History of the HSA-timeline". 3 October 2022.
  4. Best, Steven (ed), Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?, Lantern Books, 2004
  5. "HSA Tactics Book". Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2006.
  6. "About the HSA". Hunt Saboteurs Association. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  7. "". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  8. Yount, Lisa (2007). Animal Rights. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-3063-7.
  9. "Hunt saboteurs' car 'rammed' in Nottinghamshire". BBC. 18 March 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  10. Gayle, Damien (26 December 2018). "Anti-hunt protester taken to hospital after Boxing Day clashes". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  11. "Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994". 1 January 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  13. "Trespass and Nuisance on Land". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
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