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Foxhunting Baby!

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Introduction

Foxhunting Baby! Twenty years ago fox hunting was not even an issue on the English political scene. This is not because it was a new activity; it has been going on for three hundred years. What has changed is that a relatively small group of deeply committed people have managed a skilful, dedicated and awesomely expensive campaign to persuade millions of others to their point of view of hostility to the practice. Deeply held views based on profound study and a body of factual evidence one must respect. If I ask you to consider this Bill with deep suspicion it is because the media campaign and the vast majority of those who have fallen for it share, apart from their opinion, an extraordinary ignorance of the complexities of the ecology of our countryside and forces at work. It is a fact that zoologists the world over, if they wish to seek out the finest examples of the European fox, come to England. But if they have been hunting the fox for sadistic pleasure for three hundred years, how can this be? ...read more.

Middle

These are the people who take their pleasure in riding at breakneck speed on large horses over some of the roughest countryside they can find - or that the fox can find for them. Personally, I think they are crazy, but then I don't hunt and don't even like horses. A true cull is not just a decimation across the board; lorries can do that. A cull emulates Nature; as the lion of Africa or the wolf in the Arctic, it weeds out the weak, the old, the tired, the sick and the infirm. As in Nature, the great majority of the fit, virile animals in the prime escape, to mate, breed and produce equally fine offspring. Hence the genetic supremacy of the English fox. The mainspring behind the conversion of millions of your constituents to the view of the zealots lies in anthropomorphism - an ugly Greek word that means two things: assumption by humans that wild animals share the same standards, criteria, attitudes and fears that we do; and a presumption that we can judge the worth of a wild animal whether we think he is pretty or not. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are two carcases in my yard at the moment (lambs, not children) that had their heads chewed off last night. It is a harsh fact that death is an integral part of our rustic ecology. The owl, jay, magpie, crow, hawk and kestrel hunt eggs, voles, mice and shrews. The stoat, weasel and polecat prey on rabbits and ground-birds. The mink slaughters water fowl chicks. The fox has his honoured place in this scheme of hunter and hunted, but his numbers must be controlled. If you abolish the cull by hound, what is left? Gas: horrible and indiscriminate. Poison: it can empty an entire woodland, including domestic pets. Traps: savage and illegal. The rifle: no sharp-shooter can guarantee a head or heart shot. All imply a long, lingering death in hideous agony. Only the hound can start the nocturnal fox from his daytime lie-up in dense cover and guarantee despatch in a few seconds or freedom intact. It may be there is a case that the cull is not necessary at all. I doubt it but, if so, good government requires that the decision be made on the basis of profound study, factual evidence and the views of those steeped in knowledge of our countryside and the natural world within it. ...read more.

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