There is little more emotive right now that the potential repeal of the fox hunting ban. My position is simple. I'm 100% against fox hunting. But, in the interests of understanding I've tried, with an open mind, to look at the pro-hunting lobby with a view to appreciate their stance. And I'll tell you right now that I can't. Because it fundamentally makes no sense and is wrapped in misinformation, poor logic and contradiction.
Fox hunting is part of our tradition and heritage. Well, so was hunting wild board and wild deer until they became extinct. Quite an accolade, don't you think? In the name of traditional sport, humans wiped out an entire species or two. The use of the word tradition is a terribly rotten veil under which to hide. Racking, knee splitting and thumb wedging were all once part of the British fabric. But we've socially evolved to leave such barbarity in the past. 'Tradition' is a carefully played misnomer that's now used to sanction an equally cruel act.
Foxes are vermin and need culling. If you have a rat infestation that needs 'culling' and choose to deal with the problem through extermination, a man will show up dressed in overalls ready to lay traps and address the issue. What won't appear at your front door are twenty men and women on horseback accompanied by thirty dogs. Because that would be extreme and disproportionate and beg the question as to why they are there in the first place. It takes one man to 'cull' and animal so the only explanation for the other 19 is that they're there for a jolly, for the fun of the extermination. And that's a very depressing thought; a bunch of 'intelligent' humans who enjoy the pursuit of death.
On that note, I can't actually square the fact that foxes do need culling. The pro-hunt lobby roll out farmers who tell us that it's essential to destroy these beasts because they destroy their lambs. That does happen and I appreciate their anguish as it directly effects livelihood. But there are, at least in equal measure, farmers who don't have this problem because they're put in place humane deterrents. Electric fencing has been used effectively in conservation for many years. So, why do we need to kill foxes when there are freely available methods to keep them out in the first place? Unless...people like killing foxes? The final point I'd make here is that as an overall contributor to culling against the size of the UK fox population, hunting is very small indeed. According to the UK Government Burns Commission, "the overall contribution of traditional fox hunting, within the overall total of control techniques involving dogs, is almost certainly insignificant in terms of the management of the fox population as a whole." So, if there's no discernible 'animal management' aspect to hunting, why would people do it other than for fun?
Fox hunting is a legitimate sport. Have you ever actually looked at the Oxford English Dictionary definition of 'sport'? Well, I just have.
"An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment."
So, we can agree that fox hunting is for entertainment. Perhaps the pro-lobby will now stop pretending that it's for any other spurious reason in the name of public service and conservation. Fundamentally, how does twenty men and women on horseback accompanied by thirty dogs against one fox actually qualify as a fair sport in the first place? One against fifty (or seventy if you include the horses). Ricky Gervais was right, it takes a brave kind of person to be part of that.
The kill is humane. For this 'statement' I must refer to Dr Brian May's response on News Night. It's bollocks. That's the only word. Even before death, the foxes are pursued to physical and mental exhaustion. And the kill is nothing short of barbaric. Go to Google images and type in 'Foxes killed by hunting'. What you'll witness is not humane.
Nothing I've seen, read or heard makes me believe that fox hunting in in anyway compatible with modern human ethics. It's needles, cruel and unnecessary and perpetuates a culture that's part of a nationally derided paradigm. And any MP that votes to repeal the ban is one that's out of touch with an ever changing 21st Century culture and attitude.
Over the last two decades, animal welfare in the UK has improved greatly. There's always work to be done, but what cannot happen is a repeal of the ban. For that would be a backward step. And any movement in that direction is a frightening precedent indeed.
If you're against the repeal, write to your MP before Tuesday: www.writetothem.com.