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02 November 2009

My Hunting Rant

With the national election fast approaching the pro hunting lobbyists have been raising their voices again like a pack of baying hounds. Apparently the Conservatives have promised to over turn the ban. Great, isn’t there more important things to be fighting this election on? I happen to feel they would be the best party to get this country out of it’s current mess but I’m not in favour of over turning this particular ban. I do agree that it is a pig’s ear of the law and need refining but I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Apparently 75% of the nation agrees.

It’s not that I’m totally anti-hunting. In principle I can’t see much wrong with hunting foxes in this manner to a point. If it was just a matter of chasing foxes caught out in the open and killing them with the hounds then it is little different from any natural predator / prey hunt found in the wild. Where I draw the line is in the digging out of foxes that have gone to ground and the throwing of them to the hounds. Surely once the fox has outwitted the pack they should be left in peace. This is supposed to be a sport after all and digging them out or chasing them out with terriers is not being very sportsman like, is it?

As for the argument that the hunt is providing a service in keeping the fox number down, well that’s a total joke. Far more foxes get killed on the road by cars than any hunt could knock off. Then there are people who go out shooting them. They also take more than the hunts. The hunts response is they only take the weakest as the strongest get away. Well that might be true if they didn’t dig them out.

Foxes are very successful and adaptable animals and like any animal that is clever and successful we human tend to hate them. They are indigenous to the UK and have every right to a life just as much as we do. They pose no serious threat to our survival. Their numbers are high only because there is plenty of food available. Killing a handful of foxes only allows a better opportunity for the next generation to take their place. Foxes actually provide a very useful service as they help to keep the rabbit population down.

Persecuting the fox in the countryside has encouraged them to take up residence in out towns. The hunt can’t get them there and here they have found a much easier and wormer living. We humans are very untidy and leave scraps of food all over the place, especially around fast food joints. All the fox needs to do is to overcome its natural fear of man to get at it. Something it has done very easily. Added to that, raiding gardens of pet rabbits and chickens is easier in towns than chasing them in the open. In the countryside the fox poses little threat but in a town it can be a real pest, although personally I find them quite endearing. Hunting has helped to create this problem and can’t do anything to put it right.

So why do people hunt? Because it’s jolly good fun. There is no other sport that allows such freedom to gallop en-mass over such a variety of private land. There’s the thrill of not knowing where the hunt will take you and what obstacles you and your horse will need to negotiate. Then there is the sheer adrenaline of the chase. Added to that, many humans have a blood lust, a desire to kill. It's a remnant left over from when we were hunter gatherers and no different from the actions of our pet cats when they kill birds they don't eat. I love to ride and would love the opportunity to join in something that exhilarating provided there was no actual living quarry. None of this is ever admitted to as a reason for keeping the hunt going but it is the only true reason.

When the ban was first being brought in the hunting community said it would see hundreds of people out of work and thousands of hounds would have to be destroyed. Well none of that has happened. Hunts can still hunt by drag hunting. The hounds just follow an artificially laid scent. Hunting is now more popular than it was before. The hunt leaders say this is in support of hunting as it was but it could also be that equestrians with an aversion to killing foxes now feel free to join in the fun.

The law as it is needs improving as it is very difficult to bring a conviction if a hunt does break the ban. Hence, few cases get to court. Most laws are refined by case law but that requires cases being prosecuted in court first and then going to appeal. If cases are not being brought in the first place there cannot be any appeals so the law won’t get refined. Something needs to be sorted out here but I don’t see a need to completely throw it out just because a minority of people think it’s wrong.

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