CAMPAIGNERS from national animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports were invited by Forest Green Rovers to their derby match with Cheltenham Town last week as part of a campaign to highlight illegal fox hunting in Gloucestershire.

The friendly ‘League fox’ and FGR mascot Neville the Green Devil, entertained supporters at half-time during the match at the Bolt New Lawn Stadium, while campaigners outside the ground handed out thousands of leaflets before the game. 

Emily Lawrence, the League Against Cruel Sports regional campaign manager, said: “Fox hunting is still rife in Gloucestershire despite the ban. 

"It was fantastic that the world’s greenest football club invited us to their ground on match day to raise awareness and get support for our campaign.

“So many people agree with us that it’s time for change.

"People in both towns and the countryside are sickened both by the high number of reports of suspected illegal hunting taking place and the havoc hunts are wreaking on local communities and people.”

Dale Vince, Forest Green Rovers chairman, said: “Fox hunting is as barbaric as it is outdated, and even though it’s supposed to be illegal – it continues.

“The League Against Cruel sports do an amazing job opposing this and all other ‘blood sports’ and it’s a privilege to work with them to raise the profile of the continuing cruelty towards wild creatures – in our county.”

Football fans outside the ground were asked to sign a petition which calls on local authorities in the county to ban trail hunting on public land – the excuse often used by fox hunts to conceal their activities.

This follows the launch of the League’s anti-hunting campaign in Stroud town centre in early November.

Despite a fox hunting ban coming into force in 2005, the League Against Cruel Sports has compiled a series of eyewitness reports showing Gloucestershire to be one of the counties that is the most affected.

Its most recent report from August to October 2022 – the period when fox hunts train their hounds to kill by targeting fox cubs– showed 19 reports of suspected illegal fox cub hunting in the county.

There were 21 reports of hunts wreaking havoc including marauding on public and private land and chasing livestock and pets.

The petition can be found here.