An annual hare hunt organized by Jacob Fiennes -- younger brother of acclaimed actor Ralph Fiennes -- is under investigation by police after witnesses released footage of the shoot, revealing marksmen beating writhing hares repeatedly. The video, which has since been posted online, shows a muddy field littered with over 100 hare corpses and a hunter attempting to snap the neck of an injured animal, who did not die immediately. In the background, protestors can be heard shouting at marksmen to put the wounded animals "out of their misery."
"Many of these hares were wounded without being properly killed afterwards," Joe Langram, the protester who recorded the graphic footage, told the Daily Mirror. "We watched them die in agony. There's even one man who starts punching and chopping one of the wounded hares."
Fiennes, who manages the Raveningham estate where the hunt takes place each year, has defended the shoot, claiming that it is carried out in accordance with the law. "We have a vast population of hares that need to be culled," Fiennes said. "They damage crops and their numbers can get out of control. We kill the hares as cleanly as possible. All the shooters are given a 20-minute pep talk beforehand on how to kill the hares."
Police are reportedly investigating whether the shoot violated the UK's Animal Welfare Act of 2006, which states that a person has committed an act of cruelty if an animal's "suffering is unnecessary." According to local protestors, who have rallied against the hunt for the past five years, the video footage is proof that the marksmen have indeed broken the law.
Langram's footage of the hare hunt is now available at the Daily Mirror. [WARNING: graphic images.]