On Wednesday the House of Commons will vote on an amendment to the Hunting Act. The alleged intention for holding the vote is to bring the law on Hunting with dogs in England and Wales in line with that in Scotland. The Countryside Alliance claim that this is necessary to support upland farmers who are losing lambs to foxes. They claim that the extension is necessary, indeed that fox hunting with dogs is necessary to deal with the fox problem. They have come up with a slick little phrase, ‘Wildlife Management’ and at every opportunity their spokes people repeat the phrase with the same glee and mischievous glint in their eye that back bench Tory MP’s use the phrase ‘long term economic plan’. Both are meaningless and simply there to hide the truth.
The truth about hunting foxes with dogs is that it has very little to do with ‘Wildlife Management’. When Spartacus made a request from DEFRA under the FIA in 2014 asking how many lambs were slaughtered by foxes 2011-2013, their response was that there were no statistics. So no evidence on which to justify the change in policy, only the tired old refrain much loved by the BBC Country file programme, that countrymen know what’s best.
The claim about it being a necessary part of ‘Wildlife Management’ is further undermined by the evidence that hunts are capturing fox cubs and keeping them in artificial dens so that they have sufficient foxes to hunt. Of course they dismiss the evidence, like they deny that they still hunt, despite the 300 or so court cases that have been successfully brought under the 2004 Act.
Melissa Kite in her Spectator column this week came close to admitting the real reason with her plea in her peroration; “But above all, as the hypocrisy reaches hysteria levels, no one on any side will admit that it might be perfectly natural for hunting to be pleasurable.” Though I disagree with her sentiment, she is at least honest.
If it is just the thrill of the chase then why not drag hunting, which friends who know about these things, tell me requires superior horsemanship and is more challenging and entertaining than hunting a fox. Or is it that to kill is somehow necessary to satisfy a blood lust, to assert the claim of superiority over nature. I don’t really believe for one minute that the pleasure comes from one of our most beautiful native mammals being torn apart by dogs.
Some who support hunting with dogs claim to have respect for the fox. So much of a respect that they condone and encourage a practise that denies the fox its natural escape route which is to do seek shelter in an earth or badger sett rather than flee for its life chased by packs of dogs that are just not quite quick enough to hunt it down quickly. Nor is the end quick.
In a civilised country, that claims to seek the highest standards of animal welfare, there is no place for hunting with dogs. It is vicious cruel barbaric practise that demeans those that practise it and those that defend it. Just because something is traditional and has been carried on for centuries does not mean that it must be allowed to continue, that it has a right to continue.
So I suspect that the Commons will vote the amendment on Wednesday. Yet again the Prime Minister and the Commons will be out of step with the wishes of the vast majority of people in this country. Yet again the Government will be pandering to the wishes of the powerful few. It will be a sad day.