Fox Hunting

on 02 October, 2012

Fox Hunting

Save Me is totally opposed to "dogs killing wild mammals" for human pleasure. We do encourage the humane sports of drag hunting and lure coursing to retain all its traditions without the need for cruelty

Extract from Lord Burns report

"The registered packs are estimated to kill some 21,000-25,000 foxes a year. About 40% of the foxes killed by the registered packs are killed in the autumn/cub hunting season. In Wales and other upland areas, a high proportion of foxes are dug out, using terriers and shot. Outside the registered packs, many more foxes are dug out and shot or are killed by people using lurchers or other "long dogs". Some of these activities are carried out by farmers, landowners and gamekeepers. Others involve trespass." 

The “Hunting Act 2004” was passed in November 2004 and came into effect on the 18th February 2005. It outlawed the practice of the most heinous and savage death of wild animals by putting an end to this “Cruel Sports”.

Extract from Lord Burn's report

"The evidence which we have seen suggests that, in the case of the killing of a fox by hounds above ground, death is not always affected by a single bite to the neck or shoulders by the leading hound resulting in the dislocation of the cervical vertebrae. In a proportion of cases, it results from massive injuries to the chest and vital organs, although insensibility and death will normally follow within a matter of seconds once the fox is caught. There is a lack of firm scientific evidence about the effect on the welfare of a fox of being closely pursued, caught and killed above ground by hounds. We are satisfied, nevertheless, that this experience seriously compromises the welfare of the fox"

It seemed strange we would need an act to enforce the ban on a “Cruel Sport” surely every decent person would uphold that without the need for a law. 

We have never understood where the chasing of one animal by often fifty hounds and seventy riders could be classified as a sport. Foxes are never aggressive and will always flee danger, unfortunately, this makes them perfect for chasing. Their speed, agility, endurance and intelligence makes the chase long and hard. We only turned to hunting foxes when deer had been removed from most forests by overhunting so a new quarry was needed. Foxes are deemed worthy opponents in any chase, but it can never be called a sport, we know better than that.

We can only assume in some dark age of ignorance this practice evolved and grew into the hideous sight that was legal in our countryside until recently. Along with badger baiting, cock fighting and dog fighting the sport of fox hunting in his most basic form should clearly be outlawed and is repulsive to any decent person. Drag hunting is the perfect alternative with all the traditions and enjoyment of a hunt without the painful death of a fox

Even if, in some strange way, you could justify the chase how could any decent human being condone the tearing apart of one animal by another under human guidance, supervision, training and control.

A fox hunt doesn't reduce the number of foxes. In the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth when fox hunting was stopped, but the number of foxes didn't rise, a survey was commissioned by the RSPCA and published in Nature confirming this. It is not an acceptable, realistic or even a successful form of fox control.

The Hunting Act was passed in 2004 and was very clear... No Fox Hunting on horseback with hounds. Since then it seems that hunts have chosen to interpret it in many ways to continue their practice. It clearly does ban fox hunting in its primitive form and I believe few decent people would argue with that. It doesn't ban the ability to control the fox population just a control that is cruel. Prior to hunt day, hunting holes are routinely blocked up by the hunts to prevent them being used by a fleeing fox. In theory and in their best practice code they were blocked with light sticks and material. These holes can belong to badgers and the lack of air can and does suffocate it, occupants.

To say this is a country past time or tradition as a defence is ludicrous. 75% of our population are against the torture of foxes in that way. Drag hunting can be used as an alternative with no need for the torture of an animal. Foxes can be controlled in other humane ways, a courtesy affords all creatures by any decent human being.

Gang mentality has no place in our society. Badger Baiting, Cockfighting and dog fighting were all country sports but are not acceptable in this day and age. Other traditions have included the village stocks, public hanging and even highway robbery!

The “Hunting Act 2004” was introduced on 18th November 2004. It received Royal assent when the speaker invoked the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. The bill didn't have the approval of the House of Lords, as they wanted an act that regulated hunting dogs so it was passed without them.

The act quite simply bans activities that parliament believes to be cruel sports. The act does permit activities believed to be necessary for land management.

Parliament decided that rats and rabbits were pests and that hunting them was legitimate. Our MP's did not believe that there was any necessity to use dogs to hunt a mouse and believed that hare hunting was cruel, which is why these activities were not exempted from the Act.

The Countryside Alliance would highlight this by saying the act is confusing...... "The act makes it an offence to hunt a mouse with a dog but not a rat, you can legally hunt a rabbit but not a hare. You can flush a fox to guns with two dogs legally but if you use three it's an offence. You can flush a fox to a bird of prey with as many dogs as you like."

They feel it is unclear, but it is very clear. It simply clarifies's "No cruel sports".

In some areas, foxes were flushed to break cover and shot. This activity is still permitted in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. However, it was decided by our MP’s in England and Wales that this activity did result in unnecessary suffering. They stated that it would be difficult to control dogs in dense woodland.

On the 16th December, the Hunting Act was challenged at the Europeans Court of Human Rights. Brian Freind and the Countryside Alliance went to ECHR saying it was an infringement of civil liberties, but the courts did not uphold his ridiculous views. The ECHR said " The hunting bans did not restrict Friend's right to assemble with other huntsmen, and he remained free to take part in alternatives to hunting which did not involve live quarry. "The bans had been designed to eliminate the hunting and killing of animals for sport in a manner causing suffering and being morally objectionable,"

LINK TO Full European Court of Human Rights decision here

The act allowed for the hunting of wild mammals with birds of prey. Something the hunts have used to their advantage as a way to carry on with the traditional fox hunt. Hawk experts doubt that it is either practical or possible to hunt with a pack and a bird of prey. Both the Golden Eagle or Eagle owls currently used are unlikely to pursue a fox that is in turn being pursued by a pack of dogs. I agree.

In spite of this, over 50 hunts have Golden Eagles and Eagle Owls saying that they are now complying with the law. No one has filmed these magnificent bird catching a fox.

Underground hunting is when nets are put over an earth and a terrier is sent in to chase out the fox. The act requires that any hunting below ground must comply with several conditions. Activities must be "for the purpose of preventing or reducing serious damage to game birds or wild birds which a person is keeping or preserving for the purpose of their being shot." It is therefore bloody ironic that these people are protecting birds from the fox that they themselves intend to shoot for pleasure!

The person using the dog must have written proof that they own the land or have permission to be there. The permission must be available on request. Only one dog may be used underground at any one time.Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the mammal is flushed as soon as found and that the mammal is shot as soon as flushed. It ensures the manner in which the dog is used complies with a code of practice and the dog must be under sufficient control so as not to prevent this, and that the dog is also not injured.

Drag hunting is still allowed, this is where runners drag a cloth scent along for the hounds to follow. So all the tradition and ceremony of the hunt still - there just no blood. The Drag hunts around the country are well supported.

If hunts continue to lay trails of fox blood and urine they will always continue to kill foxes, if they lay synthetic scents and train their hounds on this scent we will not see the constant "apologies" from the hunts.

So you see the Act is simple and clear it “prevents cruel sports” no if's and but's that what it does.

Whether you are pest control or wildlife rescue, cruel sports and unnecessary pain and suffering to wildlife has no place in our society in this century.

We defy anyone to say that pursuing a fox with a pack of hounds for some time and then tearing a fox to pieces is not cruel.

It is quite clear why the Hunting Act 2004 came into being banning cruel sports because unbelievably some people feel cruel sports has a place in our society ... It does not.

Please do not support a repeal of this act. This is a reality. Contact your local MP to see where they stand on the issue. 

This is a real issue and Repeal is possible. We would like to see a public referendum as statistics show that most of our population are against it.