Queen star Brian May will support a humane bloodhound hunt on Boxing Day in a bid to highlight the cruelty-free side of recreational hunting.
The guitarist and animal rights campaigner will join the Three Counties Bloodhounds, a “friendly family run pack”, for its annual event in Swansea on Thursday alongside Byron John, the Master of the “clean boot” hunt.
The event will see riders on horseback and their team of hounds chasing a human runner instead of a fox.
The bloodhounds follow a pre-determined trail left by the human runner, meaning the scents are not animal-based so the hounds have no interest in following wild animals.
May, who attended last year’s hunt, said: “We’re there to learn, and to give these good people some support. It takes a deal of courage to be a ‘clean boot’ hunter – they are in a difficult position.
“They are often abused by sections of the public who don’t understand that this is a purely humane activity, and of course they are routinely abused by the Foxhunting set, including the Master of Foxhounds Association (MFHA), who see them as a threat.
“For us it’s an opportunity to highlight the fact that it IS possible to enjoy the exhilaration of riding in pursuit, but without any cruelty to man or beast. Most of the hunt members who will enjoy this activity with Byron are compassionate riders; they would not be present if there was any chance of killing a wild animal ‘by accident’.
“And of course, it’s legal – there is no dishonesty, a fact which is helping to attract more and more country folk to this sport.”
May, who launched animal welfare organisation the Save Me Trust in 2010, has campaigned against Government attempts to repeal the Hunting Act of 2004.
Fox hunting is illegal everywhere in the UK apart from Northern Ireland.
The Three Counties Bloodhounds Boxing Day hunt sets off at 11am on Wind Street in Swansea on Thursday.