Incredibly, this Boxing Day I visited my first ever Fox Hunt. And on New Year’s Day my second.
“But they are illegal!” I hear you say. Yes they are. The Hunting Act 2004 bans the hunting of mammals with dogs. The law it seems has too many loop-holes though, and so the hunters carry on regardless.
‘Trail’ Hunting is what they will tell you they are doing. ‘Trail’ Hunting “purports to mimic traditional hunting by following an animal-based scent trail (using fox urine, according to the hunters)“. But this is my favorite bit – they lay the scents in areas where foxes are likely to be. Now how does a pack of hounds know which scent to follow? The scent of an actual fox, or the scent of real fox urine? Erm.
So if a real fox happens to be out and about in the area of the ‘Trail’ Hunt, undoubtedly the hounds will pick up the scent and chase. And this is where the law lets us (and the foxes) down drastically. Weekly, all over our countryside, foxes are being chased to exhaustion and then torn to pieces. ALIVE. Still. As the law stands, if the hounds choose to follow the fox, and the Hunters ‘lose’ control of the hounds, they have not broken a law. It’s an incredibly common occurence. They seem to have very little control over their dear hounds.
Now let’s consider a fox’s habits. Foxes are actually crepuscular (they come out at dusk). So what the devil are all these foxes doing out and about in the middle of the day, when the hounds just ‘happen’ to be passing? Well this where these empathy-lacking folk are breaking the law. This, and many other ways. Witnesses see them do dreadful things, such as release a fox in to the area of the ‘Trail’ Hunt. The fox doesn’t know where it is, or where to hide. It doesn’t stand a bloody chance.
So back to my first ever visit to a Hunt. I went along to a peaceful banner protest. Knowing the Sabs were out there doing their thing, trying to save our wildlife from horrible deaths, we hoped to attract the attention of locals and passers by. Maybe give them courage to join us in our polite peaceful battle.
I was shocked and horrified at how many people turned up to support the Hunt. There was champagne and much tally ho’ing. Do they all believe that ‘Trail’ Hunting is innocent? Do they not realise that it is just a huge cover up in order to blatantly get away with continuing to hunt with dogs? Or do they all genuinely not give a damn? It hurt, it really hurt, to see so many people who in 2017 think this is OK. It is not humane. They can dress it up however they like with excuses of pest control, etc. It is and forever will be, barbaric.
Once they’d had a few beverages they began to get a little courageous. Attempting to taunt us with:
“Enjoy your turkey lunch?” News: Not all people who think this farce of a hobby is cruel happen to be vegan.
“Get a life.” My response: “save a life!”
“Go home to your council houses!” And the irony is that the hunting fraternity accuse the anti-hunting fraternity time and again of being classist. They state that it’s not that we care about wildlife, oh no, it’s that we hate the privileged. So really, who’s classist?
The old classic “Foxes are evil.” For goodness sake. They are wild animals with instincts to survive and multiply. They do NOT wake up each day and plot which evil deed they will carry out that day.
And my favorite, the hand gestures. Always women interestingly. Well dressed, well spoken, usually 50+, giving us the bird. Yep. That pretty much sums them up to me.
Their main excuse is that there are too many foxes, that this is a form of pest control. So why not trap and shoot the foxes? Why all the pomp and ceremony? Anyhow, pre the ban, it was proven statistically that hunting had no valuable effect as a form of pest control. And anyway, there wouldn’t be so many foxes if over 30 million naive and daft pheasant youngsters were not released in to the environment each year, so giving even weak or aged foxes a good chance of surviving and breeding, and totally mucking up the whole ‘survival of the fittest’ cycle of life.
Or, “it’s our tradition, culture, god given right.” Nope. I’m not having it. In some countries it is still tradition to circumcise women.
These people probably use Ecover and buy organic produce, but you may as well bang their heads against a brick wall all day long – they just won’t show any logic when it comes to all of the reasons why they shouldn’t hunt with dogs.
What can we do? Keep turning up and ruining their day? Support the Hunt Sabateurs and Monitors who are fantastically dedicated people? Pressure MPs – the law needs strengthening, the loop-holes closing. Pressure the police to do more. Not-for-profit organisations are out there in the field gathering evidence of wildlife crimes (Sabs, Monitors, H.I.T, L.A.C.S., RSPB, RSPCA), the police should be doing their utmost to support them. Talk to people, tell them fox hunting is very much still alive and hideous.
And attempt to make these people see the errors of their ways …