WMN opinion: We stand by our support for hunting, despite poll
It is no secret that fox hunting is an activity enjoyed by a minority. So any poll on the subject generally receives far more support from those opposed to hunting than those in favour. That, in essence, is why the Hunting Act of 2005 was passed by Parliament and it is why, today, the WMN can reveal that its poll on whether aspects of the legislation should be relaxed has received a majority from the 'no' camp.
But it is a very narrow majority. At time of writing 52% of the 10,000 people who took part in our online vote said they were opposed to relaxing the restrictions on hunting; 48% were in favour. That is a significant achievement by the pro-hunt lobby in the circumstances. The Western Morning News respects the outcome, however. What it tells us, that a majority of the population in our region is opposed to hunting with dogs, is not in doubt.
But that, we would argue, is no reason for continuing with the Hunting Act in its current form and, indeed, was no reason for the ban to be imposed in the first place. Just because a majority is not in favour of this or that practice or pastime does not mean it should be outlawed.
So, while we understand what anti-hunt readers who voted tell us and appreciate they have every right to their views, the WMN remains a newspaper that is, fundamentally, supportive of hunts and hunting and believes they have been badly served by the Hunting Act.
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We suspect a large number of people opposed to hunting foxes with dogs are equally opposed to the shooting of foxes. They are not so concerned about whether using a whole pack of hounds to flush a fox to the gun is more humane and efficient than using just two hounds, as is currently permitted. They don't think foxes need to be controlled at all.
As is so often the case with discussions about animal welfare and the management of the countryside, when it comes to sensible debate, the rural folk who manage the land and those who stand up for 'animal rights' are not even on the same page. There is no common ground; no area for sane, sensible debate.
But we do not live – thankfully – in a sanitised, "Disneyfied" countryside. Controlling predators is necessary; country sports like fishing and shooting are lawful and do contribute economic and conservation benefits. If hunting with a pack is a better way to control foxes, let's allow it.