Team Fox is a coalition of animals groups united to keep the hunting ban in place. Fox hunting is not a ‘tradition’ that needs to be protected
The humane sport of drag hunting, in which the hunt follows an artificial trail, has all the tradition without any of the cruelty. Nevertheless, traditions are measured in more than years. They have to reflect the values and attitudes of a society and the vast majority of the British people today oppose hunting with dogs. To bring back fox hunting is to bring back cruelty.
Hunting is not humane
Hunted animals suffer fear and exhaustion from the chase which can go on for hours. They may escape the hounds but die slowly from injuries suffered during the chase. Those that are killed by the hounds may be torn apart while still alive.
A government inquiry into hunting with dogs confirmed this back in 2000, stating:
- ‘We are satisfied that this experience [being closely pursued, caught and killed above ground by hounds] seriously compromises the welfare of the fox`
- `... hunting with hounds is a challenge to the welfare of deer that would not be tolerated in other situations of animal husbandry`
- `... hare are hunted to the point when they can no longer escape from the dogs, with consequent concerns for welfare.’
Hunting is not a form of wildlife management or population control
Hunting has never been about population control, it has always been a bloodsport, plain and simple. The argument that hunts are required to control foxes is simply a way of diverting from the truth of the issue.
If you want to stop foxes – in town or country – the best methods are humane deterrents and a good fence.
The reputation of foxes as ‘vermin’ is based on prejudice, not fact. Less than 1% of annual lamb losses can be directly attributed to foxes. In fact, many farms benefit from the presence of foxes which kill rabbits, which in turn do a lot of crop damage. It is estimated that just one fox can save a crop farmer £900 a year.
Multiple exposés by anti-hunt campaigners have highlighted the fact that hunts actually manipulate fox numbers to ensure the hunt always has access to foxes when required on a hunt day.
Over the years, there have been many exposés of hunts building and maintaining artificial fox earths and providing supplementary food for foxes. This widespread practice was even acknowledged by hunters in submissions to the Burns Inquiry. The Inquiry’s response further undermines hunters’ claims of ‘fox control’:
‘…it is hard to reconcile any use of artificial earths by the hunts with the argument that foxes are a pest and that their numbers need to be controlled through hunting.’
Brown hare numbers in Britain have declined by 80% since the 1880s and they are now a conservation priority in the UK. A return to hunting could see them wiped out in many parts of Britain.
Deer hunts typically killed a deer on only half of their hunting days, making it an extremely ineffective method of population control.
The Hunting Act works
The Hunting Act is the most successful piece of wild animal welfare legislation in England and Wales and out-performs all other wild mammal legislation, having both the highest number of convictions since it was introduced (over 430) and the highest conviction rate (64% of charges laid under the Act have resulted in convictions). Many more people have been deterred from chasing and killing foxes, hares, deer and mink with dogs for pleasure. This is something to celebrate.
Hunting is not ‘popular’, even in the countryside
Eight out of ten people across both rural and urban areas are opposed to fox hunting. Even more, nine out of ten, are opposed to deer and hare hunting. There is also very little variation in results based on the political persuasion of respondents. This research was carried out by Ipsos Mori in December 2014 and has been repeated every year for several years with very similar results.
Hunting is not ‘natural’
Being chased by forty dogs under human control while surrounded by shouting, horn-blowing hunters is not natural for any species. This was recognised back in 2000 the Burns Inquiry). They concluded:
The research we commissioned on the welfare of hunted deer indicated that close contact with human beings, including attempts at interfering with its flight, had a noticeable effect on the deer. Such interference, whether it relates to deer or other animals, also seems to sit uncomfortably with the notion that hunts usually embrace hunting an animal in its ‘wild and natural state’.
Red deer are a relatively sedentary species and are not equipped for a forced chase lasting an average of three hours and covering 12 miles or more. Scientists have concluded that the physiological and psychological stress this causes ‘could hardly be more severe in welfare terms.’
Hares have evolved to sprint at high speeds for short periods to escape predators. Hounds under human control will continue the chase as long as they are told to and are aided in their pursuit by hunters who keep them on the hare’s trail.
Foxes escape predators by going underground, but hunts employ staff to block up underground escape routes the morning before a hunt meet, forcing an unnaturally long chase. If a fox does succeed in escaping underground, hunt staff send terriers down the hole to trap the fox while they dig it out and then shoot it. Scientists have concluded that the inability to escape dogs underground causes the fox ‘extreme fear’ and is a ‘serious compromise of its welfare.’
Please go to the Team Fox website for more details www.teamfox.org.uk