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The return of fox hunting by the back door?
Worrying news has reached us that there may be moves afoot to try and bring back the wanton cruelty of fox hunting to Britain via a legal loophole.
Conservative MEP Roger Helmer has hinted that fox hunting should be sworn in as part of ‘natural heritage’ in the same way that falconry has recently been – and the way that foie-gras production now has protected status in France.
With a vote in the Commons unlikely to repeal the Hunting Act, could this be another way of bringing back the horrors of hunting to the British countryside?
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Save Me – Keep the Ban!
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Bloody Cameron Wants to Bring Back Hunting
As if he doesn’t have enough blood on his hands in Afghanistan, David Cameron wants to repeal the fox hunting ban and spill more blood – this time across England and Wales. And it’s all because he’s a ‘country boy’, weaned on hunting, shooting and fishing.
A ban on hunting with dogs was introduced in these countries in 2005 and it is his intention to overturn this ban, allowing foxes, deer and hares to be chased to death. The reasons for allowing hunting to return are about as convincing as the WMD claims, the Iraq dodgy dossier and success claims for Afghanistan. If Mr Cameron gets his way, this is what will happen to foxes.
Foxes are little wild dogs and they will be chased by packs of domesticated dogs for long periods of time. As predators, foxes have not evolved to run for their lives and many who escape will never fully recover from their ordeal. In the early season, some will be nursing vixens whose cubs, once their mother is dead, will starve to death.
Foxes will rarely be killed by a nip to the back of the neck by the leading hound as is claimed – that is not how pack animals hunt. They bite at the rump and flanks to bring their prey down and once they succeed, the end usually comes by being disemboweled or torn to pieces by a multitude of snapping, tearing jaws. Any escape avenues, such as badger setts, fox earths or holes in the ground, will be blocked the day before by hunt workers so it is literally run, run, run for your life.
For those who do find an underground refuge, the respite is short. Terrier men will put a fox terrier down the hole who will either drive the fox out to continue its deadly marathon, or it may be seized and beaten to death or thrown to the hounds. Those foxes who refuse to bolt, the terrier will attack below ground, sometimes holding the fox in a vice-like grip by her head or face for hour after hour until the terrier men dig the animals out. Death – always death – is the result.
In August, cub hunting begins. The date is crucial as it has to be before the young foxes leave their mother and disperse into the countryside to make their own way in life. These beautiful little creatures serve only one purpose – to instil a killer instinct into novice hounds. A small copse with a known fox earth is the usual venue. It is surrounded by a cordon of mounted hunters while others on foot lead the pack into the copse and dig out the family of foxes. As they scatter in terror, hounds are urged to attack. Any cubs that escape the copse are forced back by the cordon of riders hooting, hollering and beating on the saddles so they too can be torn to pieces.
Why people hunt
Every aspect of fox hunting is cruel and ruthless, including the shooting of ageing or non-aggressive hounds. So desensitised do hunt workers become that it’s no surprise to discover that most of the thugs convicted of badger baiting are terrier men.
The reasons given to defend this barbarous and cruel immorality are repeated ad nauseam by hunt supporters and their organisations such as the Countryside Alliance and the Masters of Fox Hounds. Not one of them stands up to scientific investigation.
Hunting Keeps Fox Numbers Down
Foxes are the most 'culled' of all our wildlife and hunting makes no difference to their numbers. Hunts destroy between15-25,000 each year out of a fox population of approximately 250-280,000 adult animals. Let’s put this into perspective – all figures are approximate.
Road casualties account for 100,000 fox deaths; 80,000 are shot; 60,000 are killed by dogs such as lurchers and terriers; 30,000 are snared. Even without the hunt, the number of foxes killed every year amounts to 270,000 animals – virtually the entire adult fox population. Foxes can live for 14 years yet 80 per cent of the fox population is less than one year old.
Foxes Would Breed Uncontrollably
Even in areas where winter shooting wipes out almost entire populations of foxes, come the Spring their numbers return to normal from immigration and increased breeding. It’s the same where hunting takes place.
Like most predators, fox numbers are controlled by social pressure, disease and food availability. The territory of a fox family can be as small as 0.1 sq km or as big as 40 sq km and remain fairly constant, as does the size of the family, unless other factors change.
Foxes Kill Lambs
If hunters really wanted to protect lambs they would start with the farmers who breed them. Some four million lambs are born each year and one quarter of them die - 30 per cent from starvation and exposure because their mothers are forced to give birth in winter; 25 per cent from disease and congenital defects; four per cent from abortion or being still born; and just five per cent from predation by dogs and foxes. Assuming that responsibility is evenly divided, for every 100 lambs that die, foxes can be blamed for just 2.5 deaths.
Foxes Devastate Poultry Flocks
Over 90 per cent of meat and egg chickens, ducks and turkeys are reared indoors in factory farms where there is no predation from foxes. According to the Veterinary Record, even free-range flocks of egg-laying hens, chickens, turkeys and geese suffer very little, with total deaths due to foxes amounting to less than two per cent of the flock, far fewer than die from other causes. Flocks which lost the highest number of birds to foxes also had the highest number of deaths from other causes – in other words, bad management. The Veterinary Record concluded: “Changes in farm management would be the most cost-effective means of reducing fox predation rather than greater fox control.”
Foxes Reduce Farmer's Profits
In fact it has been estimated that foxes cost farmers absolutely nothing. What little impact they make on turnover is offset by their role as predators at the head of the food chain. Their primary diet is rabbits and rats and by helping to keep natures balance, they are a vital part of the countryside, not pests or vermin. Far from being persecuted they should be allowed to establish stable populations with stable food supplies rather than being constantly disrupted, harried and chased.
Foxes Kill for Fun
In fact it’s the hunters who kill for fun because all their other excuses are threadbare. Foxes will kill more than one chicken but left to their own devices, will cache somewhere safe those they don’t immediately need.
Over coming months, all these excuses for slaughtering little wild animals, less than twice the size of a domestic cat, will be trotted out by politicians and hunters. They will portray themselves as saviours of the British countryside. However, not only will they once again legally slaughter foxes but deer, hares and mink as well.
This ’Battle of Britain’ rhetoric is nothing but tosh, used to excuse a particularly barbaric blood sport. These are the same kind of people who bitterly defended otter hunting. These magnificent creatures were chased to exhaustion and when caught, were held under water with a forked stick until they drowned. It took them to the brink of extinction. Bull and bear bating, cock and dog fighting were also part of the countryside lexicon until outlawed.
The campaign to get the hunting ban was a long and difficult one. No one would countenance a return of these other brutal ‘sports’ – and hunting with dogs is no different. Please do all you can to keep it outlawed.
Contact your MP and tell them how you want them to vote when the Bill to overturn the foxhunting ban is introduced. Go to save-me.org.uk/how-they-stand to find out your MP’s views. Then go to League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) website and use their excellent system to send an email to your MP. It only takes a few moments.
KEEP THE BAN, KEEP THE BAN, KEEP THE BAN, KEEP THE BAN