28
Aug
09

The ban on hunting with hounds must remain


It simply is not ‘sport’ to take a life for amusement.

How often do we hear or read about some atrocious crime such as rape, wife beating, serial killings, random killings, child molestation and abuse? Every day we hear about someone somewhere being violated by another human being.

Invariably when a key witness or member of the victim’s family is interviewed they will say, “These monsters behave like animals!” or words to that effect. Where does that saying come from? Surely, what they really mean is, “They behave like humans!” Animals do not behave with the depravity of some humans in the name of ‘sport.’ Animals survive, they do not naturally engage in sports, unless domesticated, then only at the bidding and training of man.

In the animal world there are basically only three reasons to kill.

1. In order to eat.

2. To prevent being eaten.

3. Defence – protecting young, self, territory or family groups from assailants.

Animals do not kill for fun, humans do!

I am against all forms of killing for pleasure, whether it is with dogs, birds of prey or with guns is wrong, but as fox hunting is more commonly debated than other forms of bloodsport I shall concentrate on that at this time. I am aware that many pro hunters will ‘pooh pooh’ the statement – Animals do not kill for fun, humans do!

I can almost hear them shouting at their monitors as they read this, “Chickens, lambs.” Before anyone replies that if I had seen what a fox can do to a farmer’s stock I wouldn’t say that, I have seen and agree it is not a pretty sight. What we have to remember is, a fox is a wild animal.

It takes its chances in finding food to feed itself and its family. It doesn’t have supermarkets. The fox will kill all the chickens in a coup and only take one. It would take them all if it could carry them. The fox returns for those he cannot carry, but by that time the farmer has found the kills and made sure the fox cannot take the next meal he has prepared for later. If farmers kept their stock in fox proof housing at night the fox would be unable to reach them.
I have also heard the argument that foxes take newborn lambs born on hill farms. This has been studied and it has been found that the majority of lambs taken by foxes have been in fact still born lambs left by the mother, or the weaker lamb of twins. It is widely known that a ewe generally has only sufficient milk to feed one lamb so it is inevitable that the weaker will die if not taken immediately by the shepherd and hand reared. Again, as with the poultry farm, the sheep should perhaps be better managed by the farmer to prevent loss of livestock through insufficient care rather than marauding foxes.

Why hunt foxes? What is the fascination pro hunt supporters have in chasing an animal with baying hounds until it is too exhausted to run further and has to succumb to its fate?

Humane Conservation?

I challenge anyone to cover themselves in fox scent and have up to 50 dogs trail them relentlessly until they drop. Would they feel fear, panic? Of course they would. It has been argued that foxes have no feelings and actually enjoy the chase. If they had no feelings of fear they would not run for their lives.
I hear hunting is a natural way of culling foxes.

I also hear that hunts do not kill many foxes and that most get away. If foxes did need culling then, the fact that most escape the hounds would prove hunting to be an ineffective method of culling. There are times that foxes are caught and released specially for the pleasure of the hunt.
In actual fact, left to their own devices foxes regulate their own numbers according to environment, fox numbers in the area and food supply. The culling argument is one of several excuses pro hunters use to try to make themselves look better to the general public.

Foxes are hunted because some humans find the socialising of hunt meetings and all its traditions to be a way of life that they enjoy. It is a pity that they also find enjoyment in the terrorising of a wild creature and its demise in an undignified and barbaric manner.

Dogs are natural predators of the fox?

I agree that in the wild, wolves (if they had not been made extinct by humans in the UK) would probably kill foxes if competing for food or territory, but hounds are trained from puppy hood by having live cubs to ‘play’ with, to specifically scent out and kill foxes. They are bred for their keen scent and stamina rather than for speed in order to relentlessly pursue their quarry. This is for human amusement and definitely is not competition for food.

Foxes kill game birds.

Pheasants, grouse, partridges etc. Will be killed and eaten by foxes. If humans did not find pleasure in breeding these birds specifically to be released in strange surroundings and ultimately shoot them as a ‘sport’ there would be no competition with foxes. Research has proved that shot is often present in fox droppings suggesting that foxes take the birds that have been wounded and left to die in agony.

Cruelty to domestic animals

Horses and hounds are often badly injured during a hunt which does result in destruction of the beast sometimes. Hounds follow foxes onto roads and railways causing mayhem. They follow foxes across open countryside, through woods, over farmland… Gates are left open allowing stock to stray, hedges are broken down…. Private land is encroached upon and innocent people including children are frightened and domestic cats and dogs occasionally killed or injured.

A suffering Deer, shortly before the hunt.

A suffering Deer, shortly before the hunt.

Surely this is not following the Countryside Code that responsible hikers and dog walkers are encouraged to obey. Foxhounds themselves, bred and trained to kill for their masters’ pleasure are cast aside and culled if they do not make the grade as a hunting dog, or when they are ‘past their sell-by date’ and no longer fit enough to earn their keep.

It is plainly obvious that however much the hunting fraternity try to cajole us into believing that the murder of foxes is a necessity, we are not so easily duped.
Many seem to think that we are envious of those in privileged positions, i.e. the upper classes of society who enjoy a wealthy lifestyle which often includes following hounds. That however is not the case. We do not attempt to ban ballet or opera even though those pastimes seem equally as ‘upper class’ as fox hunting.

Hunting is cruel, and barbaric. It will one day be consigned to history books alongside bear/bull baiting and cock fighting, another comparison that hunters do not like to see being used. We do know that bulls, bears and fighting cocks were in an enclosed space and had no means of escape whereas the fox if he is lucky has an opportunity to escape.

That is not the issue with we who find cruelty abhorrent, the issue is the pleasure taken in seeing or causing unnecessary suffering. It is common knowledge that there is a link between animal cruelty and violent crime against humanity. Criminal psychologists would agree that those who have been convicted of violent and sadistic cruelty are usually inadequate bullies who feel the need to dominate those lesser than themselves.

It worries me that many of the people we should look up to, some members of the aristocracy, some judges, some MPs etc. openly advocate deplorable acts of cruelty on living creatures that breathe and try to survive as best they can in a difficult world just as we do. Despite what pro hunters would have everyone believe, the Hunting Ban is working.

There have been prosecutions and there will continue to be prosecutions. Those who claim the Hunting Act should be repealed as it isn’t working are really trying to make themselves look better and in control of a situation they do not like.
The lack of policing is a problem. No resources? There were enough resources before the ban, watching the sabs. There are enough policemen present at demonstrations, Royal visits, football matches and in our town centres every weekend evening attempting to control binge drinking, often violently aggressive young people. The truth appears to be that the police (bosses) are not too keen on policing hunts as they should be policed.

Perhaps this is because many members of hunts may be police chiefs, judges, barristers etc. The fact is though, that hunting is against the law in the United Kingdom. This means that hunts should be properly policed for illegal actions and prosecutions made.

I could say that drink driving is illegal but people still do it. Does that mean that the law against drink driving is not working so why bother trying to police it?
The Hunting Ban can work and it will work.

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