Tally-ho, Tony Blair
Tony Blair was at least right about one thing: fox hunting is thriving. This is great for all of us. Foxes may seem cute and cuddly to the urban idiots who feed them, but not to the poultry farmer who finds that a fox in the henhouse has killed the entire flock
Tony Blair has just gone up in my estimation, admittedly from a very low starting base. The Daily Telegraph informs us that in 2004 he made a bet with the Prince of Wales that there would still be fox-hunting ten years later. He won, of course.
He had no sympathy with the antis and ensured that the Bill was so drafted as to make the Act largely unworkable. And so it has proved. More people are hunting than ever and the crowds who turn out to the traditional Boxing Day meet are huge.
As it should be. There is no logic in banning hunting with hounds; the motivation is entirely sentimental. Public support for it has dropped to around 50 percent.
The plain fact is that not only is hunting with hounds the best conservation practice. It is just about the only one that is at all effective.
Hunting only takes place outside the breeding season, so no young are left behind to suffer and starve as happens when the animal is shot at any time. The animal is always killed instantly, again, unlike shooting, when a wounded animal may linger in agony for days.
But there are other equally important conservation considerations.
Deer are becoming an increasing menace to traffic and to farmers. They have no natural predators in England so provided there is plenty of grazing they can multiply almost without limit.
When they invade cattle farms they infect the beasts with the diseases that they are carrying, to which cattle will often have little natural immunity.
They do massive damage to growing crops. Farmers would tolerate this in return for the enjoyment of hunting. Since the ban, they have no stake in their preservation, but have every incentive to shoot them out.
Hunting with hounds removes the old, the sick and the starving, leaving only the fit behind. Some time ago there was a furore over the shooting of the so-called Monarch of the Glen, a magnificent stag which had ruled over its herd for countless years.
But the sound conservation reason is that a dominant stag has to be taken out from time to time otherwise there is inbreeding which weakens the stock generally and makes it more susceptible to disease.
Foxes are classified as vermin. They may seem cute and cuddly to the urban idiots who feed them, but not to the poultry farmer who finds that a fox in the henhouse has killed the entire flock.
They also have no predators except man, so they will breed unchecked if there is food. This increasingly means garbage dumps and land-fill sites.
A bite from an animal feeding off filth can have nasty consequences and yet people whose babies have been bitten are told by the animal rights stasi that they ae not allowed to kill the fox.
The urban fox is becoming an increasing menace as they out-breed their rural hunting areas. Well-meaning fools catch them and return them to the countryside where they will starve because they have no hunting skills.
And, of course, it is a class-thing. There is a widespread belief that people who ride to hounds are rich, idle toffs. Those I knew were a tea trader, a used-car dealer, a scrap merchant, a food manufacturer in a small way of business, and working farmers.
The harsh truth that the antis cannot bring themselves to recognise is that the hunting ban is cruel, causes unnecessary suffering to the very animals it was intended to protect, and serves only to help the urban middle-classes ‘feel good’ factor.
Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world
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