Urban Foxhunt Hoax

The fuzzy green tinted video seemed to show four men drugging dogfood with Xanax as fox bait then chasing the animal through a park and beating it with cricket bats to death. The video was posted by a man calling himself the Lone Horseman saying “This is NOT about inflicting pain or torture to an animal, but about ridding our neighbourhood of a pest.” While also making bloodthirsty and flippant remarks that taken as a whole were clearly satire…or the ravings of mad fox killers. The video was pulled from Youtube and Facebook quickly but you can still see parts here Public outrage erupted, law enforcement began to get involved and it was soon revealed by the creators to be a hoax. So what was this all about?
The Lone Horseman?
This past June two babies girls,Isabella and Lola Koupparis, were mauled in their crib by a fox in a quite rare but tragic event. This sparked off a media frenzy demonizing urban foxes, spinning any story that involved a fox to manufacture fear, whether is was a chewed up shoe or just a sighting. Within two weeks after the attack 6 foxes were caught near the Koupparis home and killed.
Outraged by all this scaremongering the film makers Chris Atkins and Johnny Howorth had an idea. Both being “hardcore lefties” and Chris being a former hunt saboteur, they decided to stage a video hoax designed to bring attention to the brutality of fox hunting. “The film shows what actually happens when foxes are hunted, in contrast to the romanticised image of sprightly gents on horseback carrying out a noble tradition” said Chris.
The video was shot in such a way as to be so ridiculously Pythonesque as to be unbelievable, and a mockery of the childish scaremongering of the right wing. Chris said “We wanted to create something that would be so ridiculous that in any other area it would be immediately dismissed as a spoof, but that news outlets desperate to continue the media narrative against foxes would leap on without any thought as to its authenticity” Coming from Chris this tactic shouldn’t be too much a surprise considering his previous film StarSuckers about media gullibility and celebrity reporting that duped papers into publishing outlandishly untrue stories about celebrities.
Instead of a brutal drugging and beating what they actually filmed was themselves chasing their friends dog Monty through a park, merely acted as if they were beating in a foxes head, and used a stuffed fox borrowed from a film prop company as the dead body at the end. Chris made a video explainable his hoax available here
They didn’t think it would catch on so quickly but within hours of posting online it was causing uproar and in a couple days the Mirror credulously ran the story along with many other news services including the BBC. A bit surprised by the intense response, Chris and Johnny felt they had been successful in getting widespread coverage but were uneasy with having disgusted so many animal lovers, feeling it was getting out of hand they decided to do the reveal, especially after hearing death threats and a reward was put out for info on them.
The hoax took in many well meaning people and animal rights activists including the crew over at the Righteous Indignation podcast but like any good skeptics they were willing to admit they were wrong and in their next episode invited Chris Atkins on for an interview which you can listen to here.

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One Response to “Urban Foxhunt Hoax”

  1. Trystan Says:

    Hi – yes, we put our hands up and admitted on RI that we were sucked in. Always good to see there are other skeptical vegans out there. I guess we fill an odd role in many senses.

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