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Is fox hunting on a par with dog fighting?

13 January 2014

2:55 PM

13 January 2014

2:55 PM

As horses and hounds gathered across the country on Boxing Day, more than a quarter of a million people turned out on foot and on horseback to support their local hunts. But this year, alongside the traditional images of red-coated huntsmen and their steeds, many of the national media quoted the statistic that 80 per cent of the British public would like fox hunting to remain illegal. Can we really take that statistic at face value, though?

This latest figure came from research carried out by Ipsos MORI, a reputable market research company whose data is generally seen as trustworthy.  The poll on hunting, which was carried out on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), the RSPCA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, asked 2,000 people the following question:

“Now a question about sports where animals are set on other animals to fight or kill them. These activities are currently illegal in the United Kingdom. For each one I read out, please tell me whether you think it should or should not be made legal again. Just read out the letter that applies in each case. 

Fox Hunting; Deer Hunting; Hare Hunting and Coursing; Dog fighting; Badger baiting.

[Alt-Text]


– Yes, should be made legal again

– No, should not be made legal again

– Don’t Know”

The order in which the ‘sports’ were read out was rotated, meaning that fox hunting could easily have appeared between badger baiting and dog fighting. Is that a fair representation of hunting with hounds? The LACS would probably argue that it is. And the Countryside Alliance, unsurprisingly, disagree.

Of course it’s true that many people don’t agree with the Countryside Alliance that the hunting ban ought to be repealed. But a poll commissioned by the BBC from MORI in 2005 found that just 47% of those questioned supported the ban. Opinions do change – but it does seem like a fairly dramatic shift in just a few years.

As the controversy over the wording of the question on the ballot paper on Scottish independence showed, phrasing can easily influence results. The wording of this hunting poll is almost identical to that of previous years, which has been subject to complaints from Labour and Lib Dem politicians, but to no avail.

Sir Robert Worcester, who founded MORI and is currently a Senior Advisor for Ipsos MORI, has expressed opposition to hunting in the past and in 2009 said that David Cameron would be ‘mad’ to repeal the act. Some might question the appropriateness of such a person saying such a thing given the importance of polling companies being seen to be objective and non-partisan.

Controversial subjects such as hunting will always stir up animosity between the different sides of the argument. But surely the one thing that we ought to expect from a polling company is an accurate representation of public opinion – whatever that opinion may be.  It’s important that questions posed on such subjects should not give rise to a perception that that they may have been loaded.


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Show comments
  • Victoria Marie Alexis Lopez

    Legal

  • Simon Morgan

    I think ‘animals hunting other animals’ just about covers it. The only thing that needs to be added is that our ‘animals’ make a ‘sport’ of it.

    Blood sports, and its apologists, belong to the dustbin of history.

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    Whatever reason can advanced to support the idea of fox hunting could equally be used to support human hunting…

    Anyone who feels good about having a few drinks riding in a group with 30 odd canines in order to kill a fox is lacking in moral perspective.

    My rottwileer will soon bite some sense into you, wherever you are !.

  • Q46

    Asking people a question about something of which they have no experience or knowledge beyond being repeatedly told it is bad, is meaningless.

    Any society that enthusiastically engages in growing animals specifically to be slaughtered, butchered and eaten but worries about their victims’ quality of life is nuts.

  • Shorne

    All those people who claim that it’s not possible to kill foxes quickly and cleanly by shooting should watch this immediately;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQPA5Rniodk

    Just because you’re useless shots it doesn’t mean everybody is.

    This from DEFRA;
    “Traditional lowland fox hunting makes only a comparatively small contribution to pest control and, overall, hunting with dogs makes only a minor contribution (The Burns Report suggests that hunting with dogs accounts for only 6% of the foxes that die in England and Wales every year, and at paragraph 5.8 his report quotes a study suggesting that in West Norfolk only 3% of foxes culled were killed by methods involving foxhounds.”
    (Those who compiled the Burns Report were criticised by the LACS as being over representative of the pro-hunting lobby by the way)

    I grew up on a farm and my Dad and Grandad never allowed hunting on our land as it was unnecessary , inefficient and upset the stock. My Grandad had been a gamekeeper and was as good a shot as the men on the Youtube clip, we never had any fox problems.
    Just about and pro-hunting argument can be shot to pieces (pun intended) by a few minutes research on the internet.

    • pedestrianblogger

      My lap-top may be playing up but your link seems to be to a video of a disembodied head talking about methods of executing prisoners. It is quite interesting, to be fair, but hardly relevant to the subject under discussion.

      • Shorne

        Oops… sorry here’s the right link
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpOxIlobU7w

        As you will here there is a reference to killing 21 foxes in one night, I wonder how long it would take a hunt to achieve that figure.

        • pedestrianblogger

          An interesting video. Thanks.

  • John Border

    The photo says it all – disgusting parasites lording it over our countryside. These include farmers, always begging for a handout, with tax free fuel, grants for not planting (!) and who destroy the waterways and block rights of way.

    Lets hunt farmers….yeaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Old Nick

      It is rude to criticize farmers with your mouth full.

  • Nico Morgan

    If I remember correctly, the question was asked to people in shops, on the street and on public transport. Thus, quite clearly, the people asked were more likely to be town dwellers than country dwellers. I know it would be inefficient to operate a poll door-to-door in the country but this clearly isn’t a true reflection of the country as a whole.

    • Fergus Pickering

      I’ve said this before, but I don’t see why an ignorant opinion held not very strongly should be as valuable as the contrary.

  • Alistair Kerr

    As for the element of “cruelty,” a far better writer than I (Luke
    Jennings in his angling book “Blood Knots”) points out that for all its
    outward poetry, Nature is a slaughterhouse. There is nothing cuddly or
    sweet about wildlife. There is no place for sentimentality when considering environmental questions, one of which hunting is. Hunting is good for biodiversity, because it encourages farmers to conserve woods, which they otherwise would not, and to keep biodiverse hedges and wooden fences rather than wire fences. It is an efficient way to control foxes and deer, both of whose natural predators have long since been wiped out in the UK. It should definitely be used against mink, which are alien vermin. The LACS and RSPCA live on PLanet Tharg, where they should be made to remain, not involving themselves in terrestrial matters. The National Trust is as bad. These large, over-subscribed thuggish charities, which are answerable to no MInister, need to be brought under control.

    • Simon Morgan

      “have long since been wiped out in the UK.” – I rest my case, m’lud.

      • Alistair Kerr

        You would be ill-advised to do so: the opposing Barrister would have no difficulty in shredding your case. Contemporary hunting does not threaten the survival of any
        prey species. At most it keeps their numbers under control. In the
        absence of natural predators, this is performing a useful service. The natural predators of foxes and deer would have been wolves, lynxes and to a limited extent bears. The disappearance of these species (and of elk, beavers and bison, to name a few more) had much more to do with environmental factors: habitat-destruction resulting from changing land use and the pressure of a growing human population on the land, than with hunting. As forests were cut down, marshes drained and and moorlands cultivated, these animals were driven further and further away until finally their retreat was cut off by the sea. Unable to retire across the water, they succumbed to altered conditions of life which deprived them of the means of existence. Attempts to reintroduce some of them to their former haunts have usually failed because conditions are now so different – the environment is often far less biodiverse – from what was the case when they were native to the British Isles. (I know of fruitless attempts to bring back the elk and bison in Scotland. No wolves, lynxes or bears so far.) And the presence of wolves, lynxes and bears would not be tolerated for long by farmers, for obvious reasons. They are however usually happy to support the local hunt.

        • sfin

          Agreed. Wild boars thrive here in France, only because they are hunted by man. The hunting associations maintain their patch of forest in the off season (with the knock on benefit to other species) and the hunting is carefully managed to preserve numbers. If they didn’t do this, then the forest would be farmland in short order – and the boar would cease to exist.

          • Alistair Kerr

            You’re right. There was an attempt to reintroduce the wild boar to the New Forest by Prince Albert. But the boar would not stay there and would emerge at night to ravage the surrounding farmlands. Since they were both destructive and very edible (I at any rate love wild boar meat), their presence was simply not tolerated: they were shot and turned into sausages or hams whenever they appeared. The last one was killed some time before 1914.

      • sfin

        I remember an angry letter to a Canadian wildlife magazine in reply to an article which lamented the reduced number of Grizzly bears in its forests. The letter went along the lines of:
        “Are you kidding? I live in the forest – I walk them daily. Do I want my kids to meet a Grizzly? Do I agonise over the fact that they’ll never see a Tyrannosaur in the wild? No and no.

        • Simon Morgan

          If you use that argument then by extension you are saying that we have the right to destroy anything that can pose any danger to us,

          It’s a truly horrible argument. It’s the kind of argument that see’s the ‘culling’ of millions of sharks because a human has been killed by one (while in it’s terrain).

          Humans should be above this by now.

          • sfin

            It’s not “it’s terrain” – the planet belongs to everything that currently lives on it. Of course we have the right to destroy things that pose a danger to us. Are you really saying that, with a rifle in hand, you would not shoot a Grizzly bear that was threatening your children?
            A lion will kill a cheetah on site – and its cubs. Not because it’s a danger but it recognises that it is competition for prey and therefore vermin – it’s called nature.
            My point with the Grizzly story is that most of the, misguided, animal welfare protests come from people who have the luxury of living in places where the local wildlife isn’t lethal, and who have no idea how the natural world functions.

  • Bill Baehr

    Even with foxhunting illegal, and drag hunting legal the animal cruelty can still go on because of hound mistreatment. What happens to the old hounds that can no longer “hunt”? Doesn’t the huntsman kill them? What kind of training do the hounds get? Beatings with whips from the huntsman and hunt staff? What happens to the young entry that don’t hunt well enough to please the Masters and Huntsman? Don’t the “put them down” (kill them)? What sort of living conditions do the hounds have in the kennel? There are lots of animal welfare questions even with drag hunting.

    • Jimbob

      This is a load of old cobblers, and you know it. Nobody loves his hounds as much as a huntsman/kennelman. You speak ill of which you know little, and you should wise up before opening on the same line. I speak as a former KH and one who still spends much time in finding homes for the retired hounds. I have to be careful though as I don’t want them to end up in somewhere where they get treated like the majority of pets in this country, but get a loving caring home instead.

      • Bill Baehr

        I worked as a whipper-in, kennelman and huntsman for 20 years with hunts around the US. I have seen hounds well cared for and I have seen them not well cared for and abused. Old hounds often get the death sentence when their hunting days or finished. In the US the MFHA had rules banning giving hounds away to non-hunts. The MFHA also encouraged breeding lots of hounds and culling lots of hounds in order to get a good, level hunting pack. I’ve seen huntsman get off their horse and beat a hound in front of the field after the hound had run riot on deer. I’ve seen huntsman let hounds fight in the kennel in order to let them “sort things out”. You know it’s a load of old cobblers if you don’t admit that there is abuse of hounds by hunt staff.

  • Old Nick

    Another small point. There is a world of difference between the vile practice of badger baiting (setting dogs on captive badgers) and badger digging (using a terrier to help locate a badger underground so that it can either be removed – using badger tongs – to another part of the country where the badger population is less overcrowded, or shot with a captive bolt). Anti-hunting people have (presumably deliberately) blurred the distinction between these two activities.

    • Fergus Pickering

      I don’t suppose they know there is a distinction. They are pretty ignorant, inn the main.

    • John Border

      Lets bait tories.

      • Old Nick

        Let us not bait anyone. And why does everything have to be about politics ?

        • John Border

          Ripping animals to bits is very political. Its a hobby of tories and neo fascists to do this. The countryside is ours and we wont let them torture animals for fun.

          • Christopher Lennon

            What seems to be lost sight of is that people go hunting for the ride. It is about riding horses and jumping random fences – if you are good enough. The hounds hunt the fox, which is completely natural behaviour, including the instant “kill”; no different to the habits of other predators we admire, e.g. tigers. Many foxes escape and it is immaterial to a good day’s hunting whether foxes are killed or not. The Hunting Act was a piece of class envy politics and completely misguided at that, as hunting folk come from all classes. I don’t hunt myself, but I am a member of the CA and support repeal of the Act.

            • Simon Morgan

              Hmm, strange. I could have sworn I used to see people riding horses without wearing pink, and not in the middle of a pack of baying hounds? And they seemed to enjoy it perfectly well?

    • Mort Brandon

      There was I thinking that the badger was a protected species and that badger digging was a criminal act.

      • Old Nick

        The prohibition of badger digging is a principal reason why the badger has gone over the past 30 years from being a relative rarity to an omnipresent nuisance whose only natural enemy is the motor car. Peep-peep-peep went the motor car, as it sped along the road….

  • pedestrianblogger

    I can move fairly quietly through the undergrowth, know to keep down-wind of my quarry and am a marksman with a .303 but I wouldn’t trust myself to dispatch a fox, cleanly, every time I take a shot at one. On the other hand, if said fox meets a pack of hounds, it lives or it dies and whichever eventuality happens happens quickly. Whether the people who regard foxes as vermin and take it on themselves to control their numbers enjoy the activity or not is a matter of total indifference to the fox.

    • 8089

      Oh well,that’s OK then. As long as animals don’t mind being abused, let’s just abuse them and be happy with ourselves!

    • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

      Re fox dieing quickly…how about the 2 hours he was running for his life.

      • Old Nick

        Have you ever watched a hunted fox ?

    • sfin

      Bravo! The most realistic post on here!

  • Fergus Pickering

    Well of course it isn’t. Never trust anything the RSPCA has its greasy mitts on.

    • 8089

      Never trust anything the CA has it’s greasy mitts on either!

      • Fergus Pickering

        What’s the CA?

        • Mort Brandon

          Countryside Alliance, a very disreputable body.

  • Jimbob

    A very good place to start, if you’re an agnostic that is on the fieldsports issue is http://jamesbarrington.wordpress.com/

    This is from someone who worked for LACS and then saw that they were misinformed and prejudiced, as Richard Course before him….. If people who’s very livelihoods depended on the propaganda that hunting and other fieldsports were “wrong” changed their minds after being deeply embroiled in it, then I think that says an awful lot about how misguided and perverse the opposition currently is.

  • Mynydd

    The law regarding fox hunting remain as it was, due to one of the many of Mr Cameron’s U-turns, when he read that to repeal the law would loose him votes. With Mr Cameron, rights and wrongs don’t come into it, only votes count. One should also remember when Mr Cameron makes a commitment it’s time stamped, for that days news broadcast and the next days headline, no longer.

  • arnoldo87

    Hunting with Hounds cannot be made legal again. It already is.

    • ButcombeMan

      Indeed it apparently is. I saw a hunt going on a few weeks before Christmas, complete with cautious (on my approach) terrier men in waiting.

      No protestors, No Police. No dead fox as it happens There rarely is.. But no doubt a “bloody good day ” chasing around.

      In some parts nothing has changed.

      • 8089

        “No dead fox as it happens There rarely is”

        How do you know?

        Members of my local hunt like to brag about how many foxes they take and how easy it is to do so, as the police can’t catch them. How do I know? One of them works at the same company as me, and when I ask her how the hunt is going, or what she did at the weekend, she tells me everything. Silly girl!!

        • Fergus Pickering

          Why silly? Have you the power to hurt her or her chosen recreation? Would you do so? How are you with killing mice? Or cockroaches behind the fridge?

          • 8089

            Why silly? Because she is openly bragging about breaking the law. Doh!

            • Jimbob

              Have you actually read it? Just curious, because I can’t see any reference to breaking any law.

              • 8089

                Read the article? Yes, of course. Not sure what you’re trying to say! Maybe you should read the above paragraphs again.

          • Simon Morgan

            If you started chasing cockroaches around on miniature horses, wearing pink and bugling, I’d call you a savage (and insane toboot).

            Same goes for you foxtards. Savagery and insanity.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Oh I don’t know. Sounds like fun to me. Both Tolstoy and that fine novelist, Anthony Trollope, enjoyed the hunt. Widen your horizons a little. Are youa vegetarian, by the way?

      • Mort Brandon

        Apparently the law of the land does not apply to foxhunting types. All too often they ignore the law and hunt with impunity. No chance of the police taking action either.

  • Paul W

    Personally, I don’t care if a bunch of strangely dressed plonkers want to go hammering off after the odd fox that has it seems, a passably good chance of escape.

    But all others who are against this curious “pursuit” should also answer why some of them (probably most) still eat meat and consume the secretions of bovines. At least the poor old fox can get away some of the time – how long ago is it since the Tamworth (2?) pig great escape. Years, perhaps decades. There is no fair chance for our non human prisoners.

    For my part, when our superior race finds out that gratuitous meat consumption is stupid, unhealthy, bad for the planet, immoral and really inefficient than we should celebrate. Then, ban all animal centered sports,

    • 8089

      Are you a vegetarian then Paul W?

      The difference is blatantly obvious! People will always eat meat, and the industry is indeed bad for the planet and immoral, but does that make it right to have a pack of dogs tear wildlife apart for fun? I see nothing wrong with tackling one thing at a time and in whichever order this is done doesn’t matter. Hunting foxes/hares and stags with hounds is banned. Your argument is rather misguided!

      • Jimbob

        With so many exemptions and misconceptions abounding about what hunting actually is, I for one am glad that at least the hunters know what they’re talking about. There are thousands of unregulated and unmonitored people out there who are not as careful about animal welfare issues as those that go about it properly, but then, you and all the rest of the experts on here would already know that given how many statistics and unfounded prejudices have been posted.

  • CharlietheChump

    No. Move along, nothing to see here . .

  • DBarry

    In terms of fox control, the alternatives must be considered. A fox’s heart is about the size of a walnut. How many marksmen are capable of a humane kill?

    Furthermore, the argument here seems to be governed more by a dislike of hunters than genuine concern about cruelty.

    • lightinfantryman

      Several years ago now, round about the year 2000, a friend of mine (also a saddler, and a former Royal Marines Commando) and I went to an Open Day at the CTCRM Lympstone. We chatted to one of the instructors on the Sniper Course, and asked him for his opinion on shooting foxes and whether he would have a go at it on the basis of “one shot one kill”. “No way,” was his answer. He went on to explain that you’d have to be a really remarkable marksman to hit a fox on a “one shot one kill” basis. I wonder whether there are any statistics available since on hunting foxes in Scotland using the hounds to drive the animal to the guns? How many shots have been necessary to kill the animal; and how many have escaped wounded?

    • Reece Fowler

      I’m not exactly against hunting, but it isn’t difficult to shoot a fox and kill it instantly. A hit in the chest area is enough to kill, the bullet does more than enough damage. You can always shoot it in the head as well. Anyone who has had practice with a gun will usually get a clean kill.

      • HookesLaw

        The shock of a bullet – if you could find the fox and get it to stay still long enough to draw a bead on it – might well be enough to kill it. But the anti’s always go on about ‘humane’. The other alternatives involving trapping and poisoning also have their problems.

        But bringing fox hunting in to that poll is stupid (and biased) because foxes are vermin and its legal to kill them. Hunting with hounds is no different to other ways and probably more practical. Unlike a dog in a pit, the fox has a good chance of escape.

      • sfin

        Be my guest! Off you go! I will give you a standard military 5.56 mm rifle (far more accurate, at any distance, and far more lethal to an animal the size of a fox, than most sporting rifles in use today). I will even throw in a whole months tuition, zeroing and coaching, and I guarantee you, you will NEVER be assured of a clean kill on a fox size target in field conditions.

        • Where’s MaSheep

          A small point but a military round is significantly, and ballistically , different than a ballistic tip .270 round which will drop a red deer instantly at 100 – 200 metres.
          Contrary to what you say, I can guarantee a clean kill on a fox in field conditions. If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t take the shot!

    • HookesLaw

      You are right in your last paragraph but in reality many many fox hunters are both ‘working class’ and do it on foot. Its what happens when people allow prejudice to obscure reality. It happens a lot.

      • DBarry

        Agree – I should have said something along the lines of “dislike of what hunters are perceived to be”.

      • Jimbob

        Don’t forget Beaglers, Falconers, Ferreters, Ratters…etc etc

        • Old Nick

          It is a strange how prejudice against hunting does not seem to extend to falconry, which the public seems to find fascinating, natural and so on. Indeed falconry might be an effective way of suggesting to the public what makes hunting people tick.

          • Nico Morgan

            Yes, I agree. Also there is this bizarre anomaly in the law whereby it is fine to hunt a rabbit, but not a hare; a rat, but not a mouse. etc. etc.

            • Simon Morgan

              As far as I know, they don’t hunt rabbits and rats with hundreds of hounds and on horseback. In other words, they don’t make a ‘sport’ of it.

        • John Border

          Yes, let’s ban them too.

      • John Border

        Working class tories who should be torn apart by hounds.

        • Old Nick

          What a vile observation.

          • pedestrianblogger

            “John Border” is a vile troll. Best ignored.

    • David Kay

      from what i learned in the army its not the round that kills you, its the shock wave from it as it hits flesh and bone and you die instantly from shock so you dont need to hit in the heart. that being said, the body can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’

      although im against killing any animal (except socialists/traitors) i could easy hit a fox running at a steady pace at 300 meters and kill it instantly. anyone who cant just needs to spend a day on the range and practice

      • DBarry

        Yes – hydrostatic shock.

      • sfin

        I spent 27 years in the British army and finished my days as a weapons instructor on Apache helicopters – and I’m sorry, but your last sentence is complete tosh! Any competent infantryman knows that they couldn’t, consistently place their shot, at even a static, man sized, target at 300m – even in ‘range’ conditions and still wind. A competent infantryman would only guarantee a ‘high probability’ of hitting the ‘centre of mass’ of his target – and all of this is at the ‘standard calibre’ of 5.56. Sports shooters have to, necessarily, use low velocity and smaller calibre rifles. The ‘shock’ effect is, exponentially, reduced.
        There has been more death and suffering to foxes as a result of the hunting ban.

        • David Kay

          well if you was in the infantry like me you would know how to shoot properly and you would also know what your saying is complete and utter tosh because cant means wont and wont means jail

          • sfin

            I’ve bumped you up David Kay – not because you’ve added to the debate, but because you brought back a whole host of memories, you made me chuckle and Britain will always need men like you.
            Carry on.

            • David Kay

              :-)

    • Simon Morgan

      Perhaps spend GBP50 on some netting, instead of killing them?

  • sfin

    What do you expect from a poll conducted on behalf of LACS and the RSPCA? Two organisations who haven’t the slightest notion of how the natural world operates and are directly responsible for the indiscriminate deaths of scores of animals.

    It’s the same whenever you read “Research has shown…” Always ask who funded the research.

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