An angry dog walker who came across a 20-strong drag hunt on moorland close to his home says the social gathering should not be allowed to take place under Tier 3 restrictions, despite drag hunting being classed as an outdoor sport.
The man, who lives in Tockholes but did not wish to be named, was out walking his dog in Roddlesworth woods on Wednesday morning when he heard a large number of dogs barking.
When he walked towards the road he saw around 25 people on horseback, accompanied by about 20 dogs and several other people on foot.
“I took some pictures clearly showing the crowding together, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
The furious resident said despite Tier 3 restrictions prohibiting gatherings of more than six people outside, drag hunting is classed as a sport and is lawful under Covid-19 restrictions.
And while he understood it was classed as a sport, he couldn’t believe it was allowed and felt it was ‘incredibly unfair on the majority of the law-abiding populous’.
“We are under Tier 3 restrictions of a pandemic, the like of which none of us have ever experienced before,” he said. “How can a collection of people stampede the land for their pleasure? It is unbelievable.”
The indignant dog walker said he could not understand how it was OK for those people to socialise but under lockdown rules he could not.
He added: “I was so upset and angry that I took pictures. To me they were breaking the rules on social distancing so I called the police.
“The police did attend and the officer assured me no law had been broken.
“Again I find this unbelievable.
“I have abided by regulations from the start and am dumbstruck as I realise I didn’t need to - I just needed to grab a horse and gather with 20-odd others.”
Darwen West ward councillor, Cllr Dave Smith said most of the land was owned by United Utilities and if permission had been sought by the hunt organisers then the participants were not doing anything wrong.
He said: “Organised sports like football are allowed and I assume that’s the same for drag hunting.
“But, you can’t have people in your garden – the rules seem very inconsistent don’t they?”