Tom Quinn from the League Against Cruel Sports says “If you’re against fox hunting, then be sure to tell the world”
The government has re-ignited the debate about hunting, and our MPs could soon be asked to vote on whether the hunting ban should remain or not.
Pro-hunt supporters want the ban on hunting to be abolished. They claim that hunting is a form of wildlife management, and that the ‘sport’ is ‘non-wounding’. That sounds acceptable, doesn’t it?
But here’s the reality…
The claim by hunts that their primary role is to control the fox population has been severely discredited. Bad enough was the recent shocking discovery by police of 16 live fox cubs being stored in a shed just a short stroll from kennels belonging to a notorious Yorkshire hunt. But this tell-tale find, combined with widespread evidence that hunts maintain artificial fox earths and feed the animals, shows that hunts go to great lengths to ensure they’ve always got a plentiful supply of foxes on hand to hunt.
Far from Humane
As for hunting being ‘humane’, foxes are ripped apart by hounds, often while still alive. ‘Cub’ hunting involves areas of woodland being surrounded by hunt members who prevent young foxes from escaping while the hounds are sent in – hunts call this ‘autumn hunting’ to make it sound more acceptable. Deer are chased to an exhausted standstill. And hares are forced to take part in the ‘sport’ of hare coursing, in which two dogs race to catch it, before ripping it apart, often in a gruesome tug of war.
Some try to claim that this kind of activity is somehow ‘natural’. It’s not.
When foxes are chased, they will bolt down holes to escape. As part of a fox hunt, the holes will be surrounded and terrier dogs sent down to trap and/or fight with the fox. This leads to horrific injuries and perhaps death for both animals. Even if you don’t care about foxes, consider the suffering of man’s best friend. The abuse of terriers in this way is a real hidden horror of hunting.
That’s the reality, and that’s why 8 out of 10 of people in this country want hunting to remain illegal. That includes 78% of people in rural areas, dispelling the myth that the only people who are anti-hunt are ‘townies’ who don’t understand the ways of people who live in rural areas. The fact is that the countryside is for the enjoyment of everyone, not just for the small minority who enjoy chasing wild animals to their death.
A British Tradition
For those who think ‘hunting’ should continue because it’s a grand old British tradition – it can. Drag hunting, in which the hunt follows a false trail, involves all the elements of the sport, but without killing anything.
Quite apart from the cruel practice of keeping foxes captive just so that they can be hunted and killed, the whole wildlife management argument is flawed. If you want to stop foxes – in town or country – the best methods are humane deterrents and a good fence.
Fact Versus Prejudice
It’s also worth pointing out that the reputation of foxes as ‘vermin’ is based on prejudice, not fact. The impact on the farming industry is nowhere near as negative as is made out. In fact many farms benefit from the presence of foxes because they kill rabbits, which in turn do a lot of crop damage. Less than 1% of annual lamb losses can be directly attributed to foxes.
Arguments that the Hunting Act has failed, or hasn’t helped animal welfare, are nothing but bluff. There have been over 400 successful prosecutions under the Act – and we’re not talking about simple poaching here. Many of those convicted include individuals who have been directly linked to organised fox and deer hunts and hare coursing. At the League Against Cruel Sports we believe the Act could be strengthened a bit to stop people from jumping through loopholes, but basically it’s a vital and successful piece of legislation. And offences under the Hunting Act should be treated with the same importance as any other offences committed in the countryside.
Don’t Leave it to Chance
Hunting with hounds is not pest control, nor ‘wildlife management’. It’s not a political or class issue, nor a town-vs-country argument. It’s nothing but a cruel sport that was sent the same way as dog- and cock-fighting.
Finally, every MP’s vote will be crucial in the ballot to keep or Iose the hunting ban. The anti-hunting public should not leave this to chance.
If you’re against hunting, make sure your MP plans to act on the majority standpoint of his or her constituents rather than to any small but vocal groups of well-connected local hunt members. In a democratic, one-nation government, our parliamentary representatives should be reflecting the views of the many rather than the few and ensuring that hunting remains in the dustbin of history.
By Tom Quinn, Director of Campaigns, League Against Cruel Sports