Pest control, the adrenaline, the chase, a cracking day out, just a few of the reasons hunt protesters hear as justification for fox hunting. Fox hunting has been embedded into countryside culture since its emergency in the late 1600’s to prevent foxes killing livestock, it then quickly evolved into a ‘sport’ as such, seeing riders on horseback accompanied by packs of hounds – hunting foxes, often to death.
In this post, we’ll run through the various justifications for fox hunting, as well as their counter arguments.
Fox Hunting Is Traditional
This may be true, and fox hunting certainly brings hunts together for big days out, with almost 250,000 turning up to the various boxing day hunts last year. However, despite traditions, many hunts have been able to continue within the confines on the law – so it’s disheartening to see why others can’t.
Chasing a fox as opposed to a scent opens up a whole range of potentially dangerous scenarios. For example, a fox bolting across a road will cause the hounds to follow, causing road collisions, injuries and even deaths. The hunt may then attempt to retrieve the hounds causing congestion on the roads.
Another problem that can arise is the death of domestic pets, if a pack of hounds follows a fox through a garden – they may well attempt to chase and kill any cats or small dogs that happen to be there – as well as causing destruction to the property and disturbing its residents.
Fox Hunting Is Pest Control
To some farmers and others that own livestock such as chickens, foxes can be a real pain. Many hunts claim that by hunting foxes, they are offering these people a ‘free service’ ridding them of the fox, whilst still being able to enjoy their activities.
Whilst some farmers are complacent with or partake in these activities, it can be hard for hunt saboteurs to get concrete evidence of illegal hunting, due to potential trespass. On the other hand, hunts will often plough through fields illegally, trespassing on private property and causing damage to crops and scaring livestock as they go.
If you are a farmer that is experiencing hunt trespass on your land:
- Call the police crime line on the non emergency number – 101
- Get in touch with the hunt (most have a website), the best person to contact is the hunt secretary they may well stop entering your land if you send a warning letter or email
- Contact your local MP, and advise them of illegal trespass by your local hunt group
- Contact Hounds Off to report the hunt – they are a group dedicated to protecting people from hunt trespassing
- Put up posters around your property boundary – you can download free copies here.
Fox Hunting Is Good For The Species – It’s Population Control
It’s estimated that around 5% of rural foxes are killed in the traditional hunt meaning if it is ‘population control’ it’s not a particularly effective method of such. A study found that foxes immigrate based on food availability in the area and fox litter sizes increase or decrease proportionately with the amount of food available in their territory.
Furthermore, the RSPCA released a summary on the ineffectiveness of fox hunting citing that fox numbers had remained stable since the passing of the hunting act in 2004 and in fact, during 2001, when fox hunting was banned temporarily to prevent the spread of foot and mouth, the amount of foxes per sq km did not change. Proving the fox population will not become ‘out of control’ without fox hunting.
Foxes Have A Quick, Painless Death
The hunt will often justify fox hunting with the ‘quick and painless death’ saying the majority of Foxes die to a ‘quick nip to the neck by the leading hound’. Unfortunately, this is not generally the case. The hounds are often observed tearing at the fox whilst still alive – this is reinforced by the fact that hunt saboteur groups will often find remains of foxes with their innards torn out – as opposed to a bite to their neck.
The burns inquiry into fox hunting concluded that hunting in this form ‘seriously compromises the welfare of the fox’ due to the fear of the chase coupled with the often violent and gruesome death at the end of the chase. It has also been noted by several vets that foxes die in agony when hunted in this manner.
Hunts Play A Vital Role In Countryside Life
Whilst there is no denying that hunting directly provides jobs in rural areas, there are no reasons that these jobs cannot still be fulfilled when hunting legally. Terriermen who were (and unfortunately still are) employed by the hunt to ‘dig out’ the fox at the end of the hunt are now utilised by legal hunts in the distribution of the artificial scent before the hunt begins.
And whilst hunts also argue as to the role they play in countryside life, the Burns Inquiry again found that whilst they did play an important role it “was not as important as that performed by a village pub or church and there were some in rural communities who regarded the hunt as “divisive, intrusive and disruptive”.
What are your thoughts on the effectiveness or necessity of fox hunting? Wherever you stand on the debate – I’d love to hear your thoughts, get in touch below