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Banning of Fox Hunting

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Banning of Fox Hunting

Fox hunting is one form of hunting. It is a pursuit of a wild fox with a pack of hounds, which are specially bred and trained for the sole purpose of fox hunting, and are followed by hunters who usually ride on horses. When the hounds pick up the scent of a fox, they will follow it until the fox evades them, goes to ground, or is overtaken and killed by the hounds. This form of hunting is exercised in several countries around the world, but this essay will concentrate on fox hunting in the United Kingdom. It has been practiced in Britain for around 300 years, with its popularity at its height in the late 19th century. The debate concerning fox hunting has heated up in the past few years. Those who support the hunt are driven by a sense of history and tradition, seeing it as an intrinsic part of living in the countryside. Those against say it serves no purpose in modern times as fox numbers are controlled by other animals, and see it as a cruel, antiquated sport. When the Labour Party won the general election in 1997, it stated in its manifesto: "We will ensure greater protection for wildlife. We have advocated new measures to promote animal welfare, including a free vote in Parliament on whether hunting with hounds should be banned." In the past six years the Hunting Bill (ban on hunting with hounds) has been approved several times by the House of Commons, only for it to be rejected by the House of Lords. However, on November 18th 2004 the House of Commons invoked the rarely used Parliament Act to force the ban into law, despite opposition from the House of Lords. As a result, as long as the British government will not introduce a further legislation to prevent it, the ban of fox hunting in England and Wales (the Scottish Parliament banned fox hunting in 2002) will become a law after three months. This essay will state reasons why fox hunting should be banned. The most common pro-hunting claims will be presented, and explained why anti-hunters do not consider them to be valid.

According to pro-hunters' view foxes are pests and the most effective way to limit their number is fox hunting. Hunt supporters believe that the fox does untold damage to farmers and their livestock, including attacks on lambs, poultry and game birds. For them hunting plays an essential role in managing local fox populations, and is the best and the most humane way of controlling the population, as gun shot wounds may mean a slow painful death for the fox, snaring may endanger other mammals, and poisoning is illegal.

An opposing view is that the fox is not a serious threat to agriculture, and should not be considered as a vermin. According to the League Against Cruel Sports the foxes actually help farmers by eating small animals, such as rabbits, rats and voles, which are considered to be pests on arable land. In addition, foxes are territorial animals, which means that once a fox is killed another soon moves into its place from a surrounding area. Left to control their population naturally the number of foxes would be controlled by scarcity of food, whereas when used fox hunting for controlling the populations, it only serves to lessen the amount of the animals temporarily, for more foxes to take advantage of the increase in food thus breeding again. Furthermore, foxes do not cause significant loss or damage in livestock. For example the League Against Cruel Sports, an organization strongly against fox hunting, mentions a York University study that states that only a minimal amount of 0.4% of lambs are killed by foxes, and of other livestock the percentage is extremely low as well. According to the study foxes are not a significant danger to livestock.

Supporters of fox hunting present the opinion that foxes do not suffer from stress or pain as a result of the hunt. According to them, hunting with hounds allows the foxes to be killed immediately by one nip to the back of the fox's neck, as the dogs are significantly larger than the foxes. In pro-hunters' view, there is no evidence to suggest that foxes suffer the same effects of fear that humans do.

Anti-hunters state that the foxes actually do suffer from pain and stress as a result of the hunt, and their death is rarely caused by the first bite which pro-hunters claim to be a quick nip in the neck. An article in the Observer on July 2000 states, that post-mortems commissioned by the Home Office on foxes killed by hunting revealed that there was evidence of multiple bite wounds to the face, head, rib cage, heart, lungs and stomach. These post-mortems, carried out by university veterinary surgeons, did not find evidence that the foxes had been killed by a bite in the neck, but instead found "that in many cases foxes are disembowelled first." A university professor examined the post-mortems, and concluded that Ð'Ò'The fact that none of the animals died instantly clearly shows that they would have suffered. But probably more important is the mental distress these animals would have suffered before they were killed or caught.Ð'Ò' In addition, The League Against Cruel Sports states that some of the foxes who have escaped the hounds may suffer from extreme trauma and at worst may die of it. Thus it can be argued that fox hunting should be banned as it causes such drastic physical and psychological suffers to the fox.

Pro-hunters claim that as a result of the Hunting Bill many jobs would be lost by kennel staff or grooms, a large amount of people would lose an irreplaceable form of recreation, and the dogs and horses used in the



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