Fox-hunting absolutely nothing to do with pest control
It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words, well Tuesday's WMN (Oct 15) gave us two plus another one in Friday's issue (Oct 11) enough to make up a short story (pun intended) about a proposed relaxing of the hunting ban. The three photos of Hunts on their way for a days hunting, legally of course, took up more space than the proposed ban articles and hunt propoganda which usually follows this picture postcard imagery!
Unfortunately, WMN Farming Editor, Peter Hall omits to tell your readers the full facts about the start of the hunting season proper – eg: the cubbing, or now, Autumn hunting season which proceeds this ritual when the new intake of young hounds are trained to hunt for foxes. Presumably it still takes place as the whelps have to be 'entered to fox' to enable them to recognise the scent of a fox as they don't naturally do so, no dog does!
Mr Hall claims that no one hunts foxes any longer, well I wonder how numerous individuals have been prosecuted under the Hunting Act if this is in fact the case! Also, before the Act came into law, around 50,000 hunters signed a pledge (a solemn promise) to carry on hunting in the traditional way if or when hunting was banned. Comments Mr Hall, please.
Mr Hall goes on to claim that hunting is a highly effective culling system taking out the old and diseased animals. How can he possibly know that, or realistically, can the hounds? Yet he tells us that hunts only ever kill about 1 in 10 of the foxes that are hunted – how effective is that? He goes on to claim that these old or sick foxes are killed quickly yes you've guessed it, by a 'swift nip on the back of the neck taking about 2 seconds.
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Again, there is absolutely no evidence to support this statement and hunts have had over 250 years to present such evidence! All foxes examined by vets for the Burns Inquiry found that death was by multiple bite wounds to the stomach and/or chest and that there were no fatal bit wounds to the neck!
In your opinion column (Oct 15) you state that fox numbers in upland sheep rearing areas are soaring, yet Mr Hall (Oct 11) claims that because of unrestricted shooting 'No wonder there are fewer foxes'.
And that many foxes are wounded and crawl off and die a horrible death... exactly the method to cull badgers!
Hunts admitted to killing 20/25,000 foxes a year (pre-hunt ban), yet around 300,000 foxes are killed annually by various means (shooting, snares and traffic).
About 2% of lamb are killed by foxes (Burns Inquiry) but many of them will probably be already dying of malnutrition, disease and hypothermia (up to 4 million of them do).
So give us the figures for this as well for culled dairy cows Mr Hall, I'm getting tired of asking!
Hunting is nothing to do with pest control as hunts (most of them) build artificial earth's (Burns again) and 1,000s of foxes were imported into GB.