Forest Green chairman Dale Vince has backed campaigners from national animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports.
The group were invited by Vince to Forest Green’s 1-0 victory over local rivals Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
The friendly ‘League fox’ and FGR mascot Neville the Green Devil, entertained supporters during their walkaround in front of the home stands at half-time at the Bolt New Lawn Stadium, while campaigners outside the ground handed out thousands of leaflets before the match.
Vince said:“Fox hunting is as barbaric as it is outdated, and even though it’s supposed to be illegal – it continues.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.”
Emily Lawrence, the League Against Cruel Sports regional campaign manager, said: “Fox hunting is still rife in Gloucestershire despite the ban so 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.”
Football fans outside the ground were asked to sign a petition calling on local authorities in the county to ban trail hunting on public land – the excuse often used by fox hunts to conceal their activities. It 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.
New polling commissioned by the League and conducted independently by Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus showed that three-quarters of voters in Gloucestershire back moves to strengthen hunting laws (76%).
Emily added: “Today showed the value of real sport to the people living in Gloucestershire, not the sickening blood sport that is fox hunting, and we thank Forest Green Rovers for all their support.”
The petition is available here.