Woman saves fox from bloodthirsty British fox-hunters who violate the law

You may recall that there has been a ban on fox hunting in the UK for over ten years—since February, 2005, to be exact. As the Torygraph reports, there can still be “sham hunts”, in which dogs follow chemical trails and there is no killing, but the old ritual of “riding to hounds” remains as a largely covert and illegal activity—with the hapless fox torn to shreds by dogs. Matthew Cobb informs me, however, that fox-hunting is legal in a few circumstances:

You can still hunt with 2 dogs (I think thats the number) in England and Wales, and with larger packs in Scotland. Although the days of large packs have gone, they still drag hunt (ie follow a laid scent) and sometimes “accidentally” catch and destroy a fox. Tories have promised a vote on increasing the size of legal packs.

Damn Tories! How can they justify increasing the size of packs?

Regardless, how anyone can enjoy this “sport” eludes me, and the argument that it’s a country tradition (by patricians, of course) cuts no ice. Fox hunting is banned, and those who inflict such cruelty on wild animals should be fined and given a few days in the slammer. But the Torygraph’s piece, first published in February and then re-published in July, gives the gory details:

What is certain is that, far from dying out, the process of hunting has prospered, with some 45,000 people regularly taking part and 250,000 turning out across the country for the most recent Boxing Day meets. Officially these are “drag hunts”, where hounds follow a chemical trail laid across the countryside, or “trail hunts”, where the hunt’s path loops and overlaps to simulate unpredictable vulpine meanderings. Yet it would be wrong to say that hunting is now a bloodless sport, because – whisper it – some foxes are still pursued to their deaths.

There’s no way to know for certain how often this happens. If you ask Lee Moon, the answer is “all the time”. Moon is the spokesman for the Hunt Saboteurs’ Association (HSA), an umbrella body for 40 or 50 local groups who spend their winters chasing, tracking and disrupting hunts. Saboteurs, or “sabs”, spray oils on the ground to mislead the dogs, crack whips to deter them, and blow hunting horns to confuse them.

. . . Moon, who has been sabbing since the late 1990s, and whose groups have attended thousands of hunts since then, believes many prominent hunts routinely break the law. “They do exactly now what they used to do before the Hunting Act,” he says. “Some of it changes slightly when we or the police are there, but we believe that when there’s no one watching them – and often when we are there – they continue to hunt illegally.”

Paul Tillsley, head of investigations at the League Against Cruel Sports, agrees. His staff spend much of their time covertly recording hunts, though he cannot say how many have been referred to the police because it would compromise their work. Still, he says: “Hunts are breaking the law quite regularly. As far as we can tell, when hunts think they are not being watched, they get on as they always have done.”

Most who engage in illegal fox-hunting are apparently not punished, which is of course why the tradition continues.

Below is a video of an illegal hunt filmed in 2012, well after the ban was enacted. Watch as these horrible, evil toffs are enjoying the sight of their dogs cornering a fox.  Fortunately, a brave and stalwart British woman runs in at the last moment, drives away the dogs, picks up the fox, and runs away with it. As she does so, the hunters cry, “Leave it!” They want to see its death. I hope the fox was okay.

Click on the video to see her act of bravery and defiance (actually, it’s the hunters who are defying the law), or go to The Dodo, which has a longer piece on this incident and a copy of the video at bottom.

Screen shot 2015-09-05 at 5.58.23 AM

If you want to do something, even if it seems ineffectual, there’s a petition to Prime Minister David Cameron that you can sign, demanding that this practice be stopped for good via enforcement of the law. By filling in the boxes (name and email only) at the upper right, you’ll be affixing your name to this letter:

Dear Prime Minister David Cameron,

As an animal lover, I must turn your attention to the issue of fox hunting. This sport, which has deeply embedded itself into British tradition, has been deemed by many to be brutal and inhumane. Foxes are not being killed because they are pests, but simply because many hunters enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

While a ban exists on fox hunting, it is not heavily enforced. Hunters are still able to kill foxes without receiving punishment. I beg you to enforce this law. Humans should be willing to share their living space with animals, not kill them needlessly.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

I’ve already signed it, and I hope many readers will, too. You can share it on Facebook, which I’ve done as well.

h/t: A tw**t from Ricky Gervais via Randy via Matthew Cobb

96 Comments

  1. wetherjeff
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Jerry – I think there is a typo in the first paragraph: 2015 rather than 2005. I will be signing this right away. Fox hunting disgusts me and every other British person that I know. There is no place for it in a civilised society.

    • wetherjeff
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Oh, and well done that woman! These people are revolting, a total disgrace. How on earth can anyone enjoy the sight of a terrified animal being ripped apart by a pack of dogs? They should be locked up. Scumbags.

      • Posted September 6, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        One has to wonder whether fox hunts train the powerful to heartlessly regard the weak and to enjoy brutality, even to death, of same. There is a correlation between animal cruelty and human brutality.

        I read, long ago, that it was traditional for an established hunter to smear blood from the dead fox onto the face of a first time hunter, to break them in, as it were, after they’ve just witnessed their first experience in such extreme brutality.

        Personally, I wonder whether the fox was half-tame and fairly belonged to the woman, as it allowed her to pick it up instead of running away. How far more brutal were those on horseback, to insist she leave one she cherished to be ripped to death for their pleasure!

  2. Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    This makes me sick! These idiots dressed in those silly outfits sitting on horses watching dogs hunt foxes…SPORT?!???!! It’s monstrous. Bravo to that amazing lady.

  3. colnago80
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Not to be a naysayer here but is this “sport” any worse then bullfighting?

    • Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      I think the point is that it is never acceptable to hunt, hurt and kill innocent animals.

      • bacopa
        Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        Catalonia has outlawed bullfighting, though it’s still legal in other parts of Spain. They still have bull leaping in France.

        Bullfighting and the rodeo are the remnants of what the Greeks called the “hecatomb”, the hundredfold sacrifice. The hecatomb was a wealth-transfer festival. The poor ate well of the sacrificial meat and could sell their goods at higher prices.

        The gods favored those who had frequent hecatombs. Nestor got back from the Trojan War quickly because he held the hecatomb frequently.

        • Posted September 9, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          Has that been documented (re: the origin of the bullfight)? Have any references? I’m curious because a while back I read a book _Homo Necans_ which talks a lot about ancient religions and bull sacrifice, etc. and wondered about the bullfights in Spain etc. to this day.

  4. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Well done to that lady, those who indulge in this barbaric practise are sick.

    Petition signed.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    In Helen Macdonald’s book H is for Hawk, she describes an early experience she had on a fox hunt. She was appalled at the sheer blood lust of the hunters at the fatal end.

    • Ryan Martin
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I believe she’s quoting from T.H. White’s experience with a fox hunt.

  6. Merilee
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Sub

  7. J K Smith
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The act was brought in to ban the practice, but is so full of loopholes to render it (almost) toothless.

    Earlier this year, moves were afoot to make it toothless by inserting more loopholes, as they knew they could not remove the law entirely (lack of support in Parliament).

    Prosecutions continue, along with videos showing all sorts of dodgy practices – including cubs being kept for hunting later, artificial earths, food being provided for wild foxes etc…

    See the league against cruel sports channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/LACS1924

    including the kidnapped cubs:

  8. David Harper
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    This is the same Tory government that recently approved a plan to cull badgers in several counties in south-western England, supposedly as a means of reducing the transmission of bovine tuberculosis to cattle. This decision was made against the evidence from a ten-year randomised trial cull which showed that the method was neither effective in reducing TB in cattle nor a humane way of killing the badgers.

  9. NAY
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I was under the impression (granted, from reading novels) that the dogs were trained not to tear the fox apart, but to corner and surround it so that the hunt master could step in and kill it (granted, and cut off its tail as a souvenir or have the whole animal mounted as a trophy or sell its skin as a fashion accessory). So, either that was false reporting or the groups hunting now are not the toffs of old but a bunch of yahoos pretending to be toffs. ???

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      I think you may be correct. Also, if the dogs were trained to tear the animal apart, it’s unlikely the woman could have rescued the fox while the dogs just stood around and watched.

      However, I think the pursuit is cruel in itself, and so have signed the petition, and Tw**ted and Facebooked it.

  10. Randy Schenck
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    It’s right up there with the idiots hunting whales we saw a while back. Well, my daddy did it, and his daddy. Nothing like the sport of inbred rich people.

    I am surprised we don’t have this over the pond here only with fully armed horse riders. They would be shooting each other, the horses and maybe the fox.

    If you do not enforce the law and have sufficient penalties then you have no law.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Another similar thing are the staged ‘hunts’ where a Mighty Hunter shoots an exotic big game animal that is kept on a game ranch.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted September 5, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Certainly. The problem with all of this is that we have a group of people out there who somehow went brain dead about 1960. Their evolution stopped. Of course we have the largest number of this species in America, otherwise known as republicans. Things like animal rights and fair treatment of them just past right by these people. I don’t know how long we must wait for this species to go extinct.

  11. nightgaunt49
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Maybe they should be shooting the dogs. With tranquilizers.

    I’d like to create a GMO fox/raccoon/coyote hybrid with a taste for attacking red. Maybe add a bit of horned toad so it can shoot blood from its eyes. A touch of buffalo so it will follow and hunt them should they fail.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I’d say these people have no idea of how ridiculous and anachronistic they look — but the whole idea seems to be to look as ridiculous and anachronistic as possible. These swells have mistaken ridiculous and anachronistic for “cool.”

    Sure, fox-hunting is a hoary old tradition — but so was the lottery in Shirley Jackson’s short story of that name.

    All traditions, of course, needn’t be abandoned willy-nilly by dint of their so being alone; some may continue to serve a worthwhile residual purpose. But we should be willing to examine traditions to determine if their original justifications have been eroded — and be willing to unhand them like high-temp tubers where, as here, their current effect is pernicious.

    • nightgaunt49
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Fox hunting is a blue blood upper crust tradition of the rich aristocrats is what it is. Even in the 1960’s there were those brave souls protesting against it. They were shown in an Avengers episode where part of the action takes place during said fox hunt. (The fox gets away clean.)

      They should show the poor foxes getting ripped to pieces. No better turn off is the unglamorous bloody carcass in dead color. The Pro Birthers uses it in relation to being against abortion. (The pictures weren’t from abortions, but that didn’t matter.)

  13. Dariat
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I regret seeing this. I can’t stand these kind of videos.

  14. rickflick
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I find it difficult to even imagine foxhunting let alone watch from the back of a horse.

  15. Posted September 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    How many foxes get ripped apart by dogs each year? And how many WEIT readers let their cats go outdoors?

    How many livestock are slaughtered in pain and terror each year under Halal or Kosher practices?

    How many of the billions of chickens slaughtered each year suffer not at all?

    How many animals are maimed and killed each year on highways?

    How many birds die each year in collisions with tall and/or glass buildings?

    How many deer are ripped apart by dogs whose owners let them out at night?

    Statistically speaking, fox hunting doesn’t exist. We are killers all.

    • nightgaunt49
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      You are such a reductionist. We kill for food, kill by accident, hunting for sport is neither of those things. They are for fun, for play, for human ability to be cruel for the enjoyment of it. Your analogy is a
      reductum absurdum.

      How about instead of reducing all differences to a nonsense sameness then compare. See the differences for what they are.

      Yes we are killers. But we can be killers of choice unlike most species. We can be evil for no other reason than we want to.

      • Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Gingerbaker is merely highlighting the utter hypocrisy of most city dwellers who rant on in a holier-than-thou fashion against the evils of foxhunting and who themselves then allow or condone the most horrendous treatment of animals to occur without ever so much as murmur. Halal and Kosher slaughter is practiced on many thousands of times more animals than foxhunting and is widely accepted as “culturally necessary”. Hunting is just as much a “traditional cultural activity” as ritual slaughter, but “toffs” do it so it is acceptable (even enjoyable) to hate them. And a huge number of anti-hunting protesters are themselves cat owners – the torture of birds being an associated byproduct of their cat ownership. As I see it only vegans can properly criticise foxhunting. Their criticism I can readily accept. Otherwise there is an odious smell of class hatred in all the anti-hunting rhetoric.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 5, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          No, it isn’t class hatred, it’s disgust with a bunch of bloodthirsty yobbos pursuing and killing an animal for fun.

          Since you’re apparently so obsessed with ‘class’, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if the organised opposition to hunting was predominantly upper-class (or at least upper-middle-class) too.

          cr

          • Posted September 6, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            “No, it isn’t class hatred”
            Well, I would invite you to reread the comments on this thread….. e.g.
            “These swells have mistaken ridiculous and anachronistic for “cool.”
            or “Nothing like the sport of inbred rich people” ..and then say that class hatred doesn’t come into it.

            I find it extremely disappointing that I what I assume are fellow “rationalists” are so willing to categorise others, to vilify their way of life and at the same time to have such little understanding of the reality of the subject they are talking about. More than this I find it totally illogical that these same people accept even worse practises involving extreme cruelty to animals which are carried out by religious groups because it is “part of their culture”, or even to themselves enjoy practices that lead to animal cruelty.

            My own background was initially that of a city dweller. My work eventually brought me to living in the countryside and I got to understand the culture and traditions of rural life in England. My friends and acquaintances are now country people. It is a very admirable culture in my opinion – embedded in a great intimacy with the land and with nature. Farming and animal husbandry permeate this culture, going back over generations. And horses. (I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who has not known the joys of riding and joy of really knowing and caring for one of these these beautiful creatures) The hunt is a blend of tradition and horsemanship. The fox adds an element of randomness to the great riding challenge that face riders. Most kills are never seen by those in the hunt, so accusations that people are there “to see the fox ripped to shreds” is ludicrous. That is why drag hunting is equally popular as traditional hunting. To country people the fox is vermin – a population necessarily needing to be controlled one way or another. Anyone who has witnessed the wanton slaughter of poultry left behind by a fox cannot romanticise about the nature of these animals. As for the dress of those in the hunt – this is part of the tradition itself. If you want to criticise the “idiots dressed in those silly outfits” as has been said on this thread you should equally address such comments at the “silly” dress codes of orthodox Jews, or Sikhs, Muslims etc etc. Why distinguish which culture is “silly” and which is not. Which brings us to the subject of class. Town people would be amazed at the level of social integration within the Hunt – it is totally open interpersonal mixing – I’ve never seen or heard anything approaching it in urban folks.
            If the disapproval of foxhunting was reasoned – based just on what is perceived in animal suffering – country folk would listen to the criticism. If it were part of a balanced concern for animal welfare there would be respect for those making the argument. But when it is couched in an attack on the people themselves and their traditional lifestyle the conversation ends.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted September 6, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

              I have no time for fox-hunting, and many of the ordinary farmers whom I knew (I spent five years of my youth working on farms in various parts of England and Wales) had small time for it, either: one very competent farm manager in Yorkshire said to me, ‘If you’ve ever seen half a fox jumping around, you’d never think of fox-hunting as a fine sport.’ But Howie is right to say that it is far from being only ‘nobs’ who are involved – in fact, I doubt whether many aristocrats are involved it. It is rather more ‘democratic’ than seems to be supposed by many commenters – though this does not make it better, to my mind. And there is of course otter-hunting, described brilliantly in Henry Williamson’s ‘Tarka the Otter’ – that, too, was pretty democratic, and no less cruel for that. But I think nevertheless that one (I’m being a ‘nob’, Ant!) wants to be careful about thinking of rural England as some kind of idyllic, egalitarian society. It certainly wasn’t when I was working in it, and it never was, and it isn’t now.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 6, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

              @Howie

              You’ve carefully selected a few of the many comments on this thread to support your claim of ‘class hatred’ (which is BS, by the way). But that’s a diversion – whatever some commenters’ motivation, it doesn’t make fox-hunting any less disgusting.

              “If you want to criticise the “idiots dressed in those silly outfits” as has been said on this thread you should equally address such comments at the “silly” dress codes of orthodox Jews, or Sikhs, Muslims etc etc”

              Well surprise frickin’ surprise, what do you think most commenters on this website (including me) do whenever the subject comes up?

              “More than this I find it totally illogical that these same people accept even worse practises involving extreme cruelty to animals which are carried out by religious groups because it is “part of their culture”

              That’s a red herring if ever there was one. I have never seen any of the regulars on this website defending halal / kosher slaughter.

              Keep digging.

              cr

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 3:58 am | Permalink

                I have already made it clear that it is possible for some critics of foxhunting to be “without sin” and well able to “cast the first stone” so to speak. I offered vegans not owning cats as my somewhat sarcastic example. But anyhow, I am talking of the wider public – the opinion of which has been exhaustively expressed here on this thread. If foxhunting is so despicable we would find that the treatment of this evil PROPORTIONATE to other evils existing the area of animal cruelty. Otherwise my charge of class hatred being behind the issue would stick – for why else would foxhunting be so singled out? Let us look at the attention paid to foxhunting in Parliament versus the time spent of Halal/Kosher slaughter. (I claim this ritual slaughter a much greater evil given it occurs tens of thousands of more times and inflicts greater pain on animals [extreme pain of ritual slaughter being documented in veterinary studies}) Parliament spent an extraordinary 700 hours on the Hunting Bill and none whatsoever in any open debate regarding abolition of ritual slaughter, anti hunt groups spent £30 million to stop hunting and trivial amounts can be raised to fight ritual slaughter. As for admitting the motives we only need to look at the statements of the Parliamentarians who actually passed the bill – e.g. one of Labours leading anti hunt spokesperson Peter Bradley said it clearly – ‘Now that hunting has been banned, we ought at last to own up to it: the struggle over the Bill was not just about animal welfare and personal freedom, it was class war’. Here on WEIT where we would expect reasoned and fair debate these expressions of class hatred continue to occur. My charge stands – class hatred is a prime motivator of the anti foxhunting movement. Rural people see this attack as being against their long established traditions, and they are right to believe this is so.

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 4:08 am | Permalink

                ….and also, please tell us exactly how we should necessarily all dress infiniteimprobabilit, lest we offend you.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 4:55 am | Permalink

                Dress any way you like. And if you look stupid I will ridicule you. As I would (as we all would) women in sacks or rabbis in plastic bags.

                cr

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink

                I rather agree with Howie and also with Gingerbaker here. Ritual kosher & halal killing gets a pass because they are religious, and factory farming (pigs, in particular, but not only pigs) gets a pass because it’s money and profit…, but fox-hunting is neither religious not profitable. There’s a curious puritanism at work (the Protestant ethic?): cruelty to animals is all right and splendidly moral so long as there is some sort of morally (!) serious reason for it, religious or economic, but if that cruelty should involve people having fun, then, no, it’s dreadful and immoral. (I say economic reasons are ‘morally serious’ because they really seem to be regarded so, especially in Anglo-Saxondom.) One thinks of Dick Cheney and torture, and all the serious reasons he has to keep rehearsing for something he would probably enjoy doing personally…

                And, having said that, I admire that woman! Good for her!

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

                Ritual kosher & halal killing gets a pass because they are religious, and factory farming (pigs, in particular, but not only pigs) gets a pass because it’s money and profit

                Those practices most emphatically do not get a pass here at WEIT. Jerry regularly decries kosher and halal slaughter, and, in every Whole Paycheck thread, I make the point that the only reason I shop there is because they’re the only place that has ethical husbandry standards.

                b&

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

                Oh, here we go again – Ben grabbing hold of the wrong end of the stick again and responding in high moral, squeaky-clean dudgeon. It sometimes becomes rather wearisome. I was making no criticism at all of Professor Ceiling Cat or Ben or anyone else or of WEIT, though I hope that those who brought in royalty, blue-blooded yobs and the rest might reconsider their positions. I was simply pointing out, as Howie has, that fox-hunting arouses passions that go beyond the issue of cruelty to animals, passions that have to do with perceived social and historical issues, and that a result of this is that fox-hunting (at least in England) arouses moral and political debate in a way which the ritual slaughter of animals for food and factory farming don’t but should.

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

                Then you might want to reconsider painting with such a broad brush — especially firm solidarity with somebody whose opening salvo was an attack on cat owners and carnivores.

                b&

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

                Thank you for your concern, Ben, but I wish to reconsider nothing.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

                doesn’t but should…

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

                I might add, thinking of Harry Harlow and his disgusting experiments on monkeys and the treatment of laboratory dogs and other animals in Japan when I first came her), ‘scientific’ to the serious reasons that are used to justify cruelty.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 7:21 am | Permalink

                Coursing for hares was, I think, the first blood-sport to be banned in England, because though it was all right for people sufficiently well-off to own a horse to enjoy themselves hunting foxes or deer with hounds, it was not all right for working-class yobbos (miners and the like, who probably drank too much into the bargain and didn’t attend chapel or church)to enjoy themselves hunting hares with proletarian whippets, particularly on Sindays. (I’ve left that last typo.)

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

                @Tim

                Howie and gingerbaker seem to be arguing that foxhunting is OK because (a) other things are worse and (b) some of its opponents are motivated by class dislike.

                Neither of those works with me.

                As it happens, I’m not anti-upper-class as such. They have their morons and their philanthropists just like any other class.
                I doubt they’re any more sadistic on average than any other segment of society.

                But as John Crisp also noted at #25, those who wish to defend country values have many points to argue, but if they’ve chosen to make a stand on foxhunting I think they’ve chosen very badly indeed.

                cr

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:56 am | Permalink

                It did not seem to me that either Howie or Gingerbaker were saying that fox-hunting was all right, although Howie perhaps came close to it. They were surely pointing out first of all that the amount of righteous fury directed at fox-hunting was far less than the amount of righteous fury directed at factory farming or the ritual slaughter of animals enjoined by certain religions, and suggesting reasons for this; and also pointing out that fox-hunting was a sport not just for ‘nobs’ – though I certainly don’t think that whatever democratic nature it may have justifies it. I speak as one who in my youth hunted hares with a small shotgun and developed a fascination for these animals as a result, such that I could not bring myself to shoot one now.

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

                Tim reads my position very well. I don’t like the idea of hunting as part of any sport. I don’t want to see it exist. But foxhunting is one of those complicated borderline issues. VERY borderline in my view. Principally this is because fox populations MUST be culled to prevent absolute carnage among poultry, small farm animals and newborn. Foxes are not “nice” animals – they are vermin (we are Darwinians here, we don’t expect that all species have behaviours we could “condone” in our own terms do we?). Traditional hunting has played a great part in controlling rural fox populations – controlling a rural problem. (I totally disapprove of extremely rare instances of hunts encouraging fox breeding so as to later hunt them). And this particular method of culling costs farmers nothing, indeed foxhunting contributes significantly to the overall rural economy. So it all comes down to methods and perhaps motivation. We have problems here too. First the level of “sport” is not in the kill, it’s in the chase. The fox is merely the traditional catalyst for the chase, and only constitutes something that really needs elimination anyway to those doing the chasing. Then there is the social aspect – the hunts binds a large section of the rural community together. It is a fundamental rural tradition.
                Even so… I would hope to see only drag hunting. But then I look at the anti hunt brigade and THEIR motives. It is class hatred. It is also total ignorance of another way of life, as John Crisp has pointed out here. And then when I look for support of what I consider to be major animal welfare issues – ritual slaughter, culling whaling,etc. the wider public who “hate hunting” can’t bother themselves. Do I want to support such people on this particular issue….. nope, I don’t think so.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted September 6, 2015 at 3:07 am | Permalink

          I don’t know if the hypocrisy is utter, but it doesn’t hurt to keep a broader perspective.

    • Posted September 5, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      There is a difference between flipping a switch so the trolley kills one person instead of three and actively pushing a person in front of the trolley and killing him to save three.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        I believe that issue has been debated ad nauseam ever since moral philosophers first obtained a rudimentary understanding of the trolley’s route-control system.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

          !

  16. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I share others’ revulsion at the persistence of this ‘sport’. But it is not quite correct to dismiss it as simply a toffs’ pastime: there are plenty of non-toffs who seem to get a kick out of it as well. And the equally cruel (and equally illegal) pursuits of hare-coursing and badger-baiting are largely the preserve of what used to be called the working class.

    Horrible though fox-hunting is, I am personally more exercised by the systematic persecution of raptors, especially hen-harriers, carried out in the interests of grouse-shooting, which really is a toffs’ pursuit.

  17. Posted September 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I was struck by how the fox showed no obvious signs of resisting its rescuer. That implies a degree of intelligence and / or domestication that makes the enterprise even more horrific.

    Even were the foxes inimical in some manner, the hunt would be an inexcusable method of pest management. And I don’t think anybody has ever even pretended to hunt the foxes for food — which, of course, would carry with it the requirement for compassion the opposite of which is on display here.

    I think, all in all, these assholes would be much better off inventing a new sport, an hybrid of cricket and sheepdog trials. With no live foxes, of course. though a robotic fox might make a good substitute.

    b&

    b&

    • Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Me too. It would have been easy for an injured panicked animal to lash out at the lady, but he seemed to know the deal. I really hope they both escaped unharmed.

      • Prof.Pedant
        Posted September 5, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        “The ape is taking me away from the dogs, that makes this a win so far….”

        • Tim Harris
          Posted September 6, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

          I suspect that the fox is in shock…

  18. Tom
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    If it wasn’t for the number of deaths and injuries recorded annually on fox hunts, the fox hunters would breed uncontrollably and it is vital to keep their numbers down. Specially trained foxes and horses are at this moment bravely trying to eradicate these pests.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Thanks to those specially trained foxes and horses and keep up the good work.

  19. Bob
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I live in an area of the USA where foxhunting is a big deal, with beautiful people, in beautiful duds, riding beautiful horses, in beautiful woodlands, with packs of yapping dogs. Some of the “hunts” are of the drag type, where a scent of foxes is laid down for the dogs to chase. Others are of the more bloodthirsty sort where “Our quarry alternates between coyote, red fox, gray fox and bobcat.” Here is a link to one of the latter types, should you care to visit some day: http://www.whiskeyroadfoxhounds.com/

    • Tim Harris
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      I have cared to visit it, and am struck by how many of the hunt’s ‘officers’ are women…

      • Bob
        Posted September 6, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        It is an astute observation that you have made. In our immediate neighborhood we have many equestrian types. The majority is overwhelming female. And, for example, how many males does one find on college equestrian teams, or participating in equestrian events? Proportionately, not many.

  20. Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Pest control, ecosystem management. So were these foxes reintroduced by man and in need of culling because they will breed and eat the local food chain out of existence….the gentry are performing an act of immense kindness by riding forth with the hounds. If they didn’t brace their sloped foreheads and chinless faces, snivelling features and twisted overbite in the teeth of the cruel winds to perform this traditional act of astoundimg mercy the voracious, destroyer of the green and. pleasant would turn rural Hampshire or Berkshire into a featureless and sterile wasteland. You just don’t understand the relentless hunger the fox exhibits
    I wasn’t a fan of Blair,much of what he did was actually someone elses vision he seemed to be credited get the plaudits for, well except Iraq of course but it was his government that finally put this absolutely disgusting exhibition into the history books where it was long overdue.
    Witch burning and the Lords right to a newly weds virginity were once a reality too so Davie will we see them back soon aswell.
    What is it with the Countryside Alliance anyway, the remind me of UKIP in Barbour wax jackets and stupid green wellys. I’m sure the are determined to eradicate any animal life larger than a field mouse, they don’t pay rent or can be classed as free range and sold for a premium to waitrose so they are free loaders, scroungers, the equivalent of the urban benefit cheat in fur

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Interesting … someday you must share with us the secret to punctuating with a broken peppermill.

      • Posted September 6, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        If you show a little apptitude I may just do that.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 7, 2015 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

          Give me a red pen, and I’ll show you a rough approximation of standard English punctuation.

          • Posted September 8, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

            “If you show a little apptitude I may just do that.”

            Hmmm… Shouldn’t there be a comma between “apptitude” and “I”, and shouldn’t the former also be spelled with just one letter p?

  21. Dan
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Fox hunts is lad-back hunting for those too lazy to stalk and shoot a prey without help. Even with UK’s draconian gun laws, hunters can still enjoy their sport and shoot game in certain areas. I support hunting, even canned hunts, as long as it is legal. But fox hunting is much too barbaric.

  22. Tim Harris
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Does anybody know what happened afterwards? Did that splendid woman save the fox? I hope so.

    Try John Clare’s poem ‘The Badger’ for a good account of rural cruelty in the 19th century.

    When badgers fight, then every one’s a foe.
    The dogs are clapt and urged to join the fray;
    The badger turns and drives them all away.
    Though scarcely half as big, demure and small,
    He fights with dogs for bones and beats them all.
    The heavy mastiff, savage in the fray,
    Lies down and licks his feet and turns away.
    The bulldog knows his match and waxes cold,
    The badger grins and never leaves his hold.
    He drives the crowd and follows at their heels
    And bites them through—the drunkard swears and reels.
    The frighted women take the boys away,
    The blackguard laughs and hurries on the fray.
    He tries to reach the woods, an awkward race,
    But sticks and cudgels quickly stop the chase.
    He turns again and drives the noisy crowd
    And beats the many dogs in noises loud.
    He drives away and beats them every one,
    And then they loose them all and set them on.
    He falls as dead and kicked by boys and men,
    Then starts and grins and drives the crowd again;
    Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies
    And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.

  23. Tim Harris
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    And this (Shakespeare, from Venus & Adonis):

    And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare,
    Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles
    How he outruns the wind, and with what care
    He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles:
    The many musits through the which he goes
    Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.

    Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep,
    To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell,
    And sometime where earth-delving conies keep,
    To stop the loud pursuers in their yell,
    And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer;
    Danger deviseth shifts; wit waits on fear:

    For there his smell with others being mingled,
    The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt,
    Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled
    With much ado the cold fault cleanly out;
    Then do they spend their mouths: Echo replies,
    As if another chase were in the skies.

    By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill,
    Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear,
    To hearken if his foes pursue him still:
    Anon their loud alarums he doth hear;
    And now his grief may be compared well
    To one sore sick that hears the passing-bell.

    Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch
    Turn, and return, indenting with the way;
    Each envious briar his weary legs doth scratch,
    Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay:
    For misery is trodden on by many,
    And being low never relieved by any.

    • nightgaunt49
      Posted September 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      It is easier to enslave, kill, torture and eat animals, no souls as they reckon it.
      Though we know that humans can parse other humans as to their worthiness to comfortable life by “saving their souls” by torturing the body and killing it. Still used today.
      Humans are great at creating abstractions of real concrete things like humans and life into phantasms.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        During the 18th and 19th centuries, as early medical experimenters used animal subjects for experiments, an argument was made that animals, unlike humans, do not have souls and do not, in fact, feel pain. They suggested the yelping and screeching of dogs being vivisected was mere reflex that had no internal correlates. Pretty convenient perspective, I’d say.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted September 7, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          Descartes’s the name you want…

          • rickflick
            Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

            I wouldn’t doubt it. But it was a widespread view. William Harvey established blood circulation, Richard Lower keeps dog alive by transfusing blood from other dogs(no anesthesia of course). The early work in England in surgery, and physiology owes a lot to the dogs and other animals used in experiments.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

              Here’s a passage from the article entitled ‘Animals & Ethics’ in The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:

              ‘One of the clearest and most forceful denials of animal consciousness is developed by Rene Descartes (1596-1650), who argues that animals are automata that might act as if they are conscious, but really are not so (Regan and Singer, 1989: 13-19). Writing during the time when a mechanistic view of the natural world was replacing the Aristotelian conception, Descartes believed that all of animal behavior could be explained in purely mechanistic terms, and that no reference to conscious episodes was required for such an explanation. Relying on the principle of parsimony in scientific explanation (commonly referred to as Occam’s Razor) Descartes preferred to explain animal behavior by relying on the simplest possible explanation of their behavior. Since it is possible to explain animal behavior without reference to inner episodes of awareness, doing so is simpler than relying on the assumption that animals are conscious, and is therefore the preferred explanation.’

              It followed from this that, being mere automata, animals did not feel pain, however much they might behave as though they did.

              • rickflick
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

                Sounds familiar now that you mention it. Descartes may have initiated this view of animals that lasted for centuries while medicine and surgery evolved.
                Note that there is no way to know for sure what animals feel and experience (since they can’t talk) except by their outward bodily reactions. But, I think today we would say they do experience something like what humans do. One good reason to think so is that now we have a reasonably good idea of how qualia come about in the brain. At least in terms of chains of neural activity. The dog and cat have analogous structures to human brains and thus should have much the same basic inner appreciation of pain. Also, our evolutionary precursors must have experienced pain much as cats and chimps do now. One thing that might be exceptional for us is our talent for elaborate imaginings in anticipation of pain, which compounds the misery before a visit to the dentist.

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

                One thing that might be exceptional for us is our talent for elaborate imaginings in anticipation of pain, which compounds the misery before a visit to the dentist.

                You’ve never seen a cat’s reaction the instant you pull out the carrier you only use for her once-a-year trip to the vet?

                …which, of course, is another reason why cats should get lots and lots of outdoors time on a leash, including as many car trips to the park as a d*g would get, but that’s another story….

                b&

              • Posted September 8, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

                I expect EMG studies have been done and fMRI studies have or could be done to prove pain in animals. Most certainly, the parameters used in the operating room for human surgeries have shown the same pain indicators in animals, including a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Pain can be proven by its physiologic side effects.

              • Posted September 8, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

                In my comment, below, perhaps replace or add to “fMRI” PET scans. Seriously! No pun intended!

              • Posted September 8, 2015 at 6:51 am | Permalink

                Oops: I meant the comment above, not below.

              • rickflick
                Posted September 7, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

                Right, animals can anticipate. They even salivate when you ring the dinner bell. Maggy’s bath time is once in a…while. She knows the minute I bring in the aluminum tub with baby shampoo. Under the table she goes with a look of overwhelming agony.

              • Posted September 7, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

                …thereby demonstrating all sorts of mutually-supportive mental activities supposedly impossible for mere dumb automata. Simple pattern-matching won’t cut it; Maggy’s got to start with the pattern matching, sure, but then she’s got to remember what happened the last time she saw the tub, imagine the recapitulation of that this time, formulate and execute an admittedly-ineffective strategy for avoiding it, effectively communicate her distress, and so on.

                All in all, her experience at bathtime is likely remarkably similar to your own experience when it’s time to go to the dentist, save you don’t put up as much of a fight.

                …I hope….

                b&

              • Posted September 8, 2015 at 6:56 am | Permalink

                @rickflick, I’ve a better idea for your cat’s bath: Pulverize some catnip, rub it into her fur, and let her bathe herself extra well, trying to get at every last bit of it.

                Two of my cats think store-bought catnip spray is perfume. One insists I spray it on her every morning, and the other comes around for her share at the same time. Of course, that’s unrelated, except for the catnip. I just wanted to share it. They’re so cute about it!

              • rickflick
                Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

                “I’ve a better idea for your cat’s bath”
                Maggie is actually a d*g, but never mind that. I can imagine how your cat’s look as they ask for a catnip spray. Cute indeed.

              • Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

                Oh. Oops! Yes, d*gs need help with their bathing, poor little things.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 8, 2015 at 1:05 am | Permalink

                ‘Note that there is no way to know for sure what animals feel and experience (since they can’t talk) except by their outward bodily reactions.’

                I really think – forgive me – that this is a bit of philosophical dogmatism that depends on far too much importance being attached to language and conscious linguistic descriptions of the pain that you or I may be feeling to some other person, as well as the fear of being thought ‘anthropomorphic’ that derives from Cartesian thought and behaviourism. We don’t deduce in some sort of detached, intellectual way from seeing, say, a napalmed Vietnamese girl running down a road screaming that she is in pain. The same applies to babies, to dumb people, to those who are in such pain that they are unable to speak, and surely to animals. Anyone who has kept a dog knows that animals have emotions; it is impossible to deny the evidence that animals can be happy – there are various videos showing elephants who have been reunited after many years and it is clear they recognise each other and are happy. And then there are your and Ben’s cats and their trepidation on realising that they are set for a visit to the vet. Outside the laboratory, we are simply not in the position of that abstraction, the detached observer, and we recognise emotions and states such as being in pain readily, really through our bodies – we don’t stop to wonder whether that Vietnamese girl might have been faking it, or whether a fox being torn to bits by hounds might be faking things. It really is easier to fake things by means of language than through the body.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 8, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink

                In evolutionary terms, why on earth would animals feel pain (or not) in any way differently from what we do?

                cr

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

                Well, yes… Descartes didn’t know about evolution and certain other philosophers don’t seem to have managed to evolve beyond him.

            • Posted September 8, 2015 at 4:15 am | Permalink

              As we have drifted on to the subject of vivisection, and posting poetry seems the fashion on this particular thread, I should like to post a little known, brilliant and rather morbid poem on the subject by John Davidson – “Testament of a Vivisector” which google can locate in full for you. The poem ends on a most lyric but depressing theme on materialism. I quite love it…

              Have I no pain ?
              I live alone : my wife
              Forsook me, and my daughters.
              In the night,
              From silted fountains sprung, insurgent tears
              Arouse me, a marauder in the past
              Against my will one of the nightly gang
              Impressed by sleep to serve Insomnia,
              The queen of waking dreams. Caught in her snare,
              The man-trap Memory, towards the recreant hour
              When life is at the ebb, I rise and think
              To end it now ; but always stay my hand,
              Because we cannot put an end to that
              In which we live and move and have our being,
              Nor anywhere escape it : air is Matter ;
              The interstellar spaces, Matter cold
              And thin, the darksome vehicle of light.
              To the Materialist there is no Unknown;
              All, all is Matter. Pain ? I am one ache
              But never when I work ; there Matter wins!

              And I believe that they who delve the soil,
              Who reap the grain, who dig and smelt the ore,
              The girl who plucks a rose, the sweetest voice
              That thrills the air with sound, give Matter pain
              Think you the sun is happy in his flames,
              Or that the cooling earth no anguish feels,
              Nor quails from her contraction ? Rather say,
              The systems, constellations, galaxies
              That strew the ethereal waste are whirling there
              In agony unutterable. Pain?
              It may be Matter in itself is pain,
              Sweetened in sexual love that so mankind,
              The medium of Matter’s consciousness,
              May never cease to know the stolid bent
              Of Matter, the infinite vanity
              Of the Universe, being evermore
              Self-knowledge.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted September 8, 2015 at 5:49 am | Permalink

                Oh, dear. It is grim stuff, isn’t it? It is the first time for me to read it: a bit turgid in places, but certainly with a strange power. Davidson is not a poet I know well at all: ‘Thirty Bob a Week’ and that poem about a ‘runnable stag’ who escapes his pursuers to drown in the Bristol Channel, as I recall – a poem that also suits the topic of the post. I also recall that Davidson drowned himself. Anyway, thank you!

              • Posted September 8, 2015 at 7:17 am | Permalink

                Really pleased you like Davidson’s work Tim, he’s really a great favorite of mine. And though extremely respected by other poets, his work never never achieved public recognition so the poor bugger became so despondent that he finally ended up a suicide. Walked into the sea… a poetic ending itself.

  24. martin
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Oscar Wilde on fox hunting:
    “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      Ah, yes, the incorrigible commenting on the unspeakable pursuing the inedible … 🙂

      • Tim Harris
        Posted September 5, 2015 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        And now the unbelieving commenting on the non-believing quoting the incorrigible commenting on the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible that hid in the house that Jack built!

  25. John Crisp
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Personally, I am revolted by foxhunting, but this argument needs to be seen in a wider social context, not just class but in the long-standing conflict between town and country. I have a number of friends who used to foxhunt and complain about its abolition, not because they are sadistic toffs, but because they see it as yet another manifestation of the imposition of urban values on rural environments, part of the process in which family farms have gradually been absorbed into vast industrial conglomerates, hedgerows and boundaries destroyed to facilitate industrial farming (to the detriment of birdlife and insect ecosystems); in which heavy government taxes are placed on fuel to encourage people to use public transport, which is virtually non-existent in the countryside; in which farmhouses and barns are bought by rich urban folk at inflated prices for second homes, and left mostly empty, thereby depriving village pubs and local shops of customers…

    So they see the ban on foxhunting as one more symptom of the industrialisation and urbanisation of the countryside, and of the primacy of metropolitan values and priorities over rural life. In my view, they do themselves no favours by making foxhunting their argument of choice, because it only entrenches a caricature of the countryside as populated by bloodthirsty, inbred and moronic aristocrats, but on the broader point of the subordination of rural ways of life to city priorities, there is a case to answer.

    One key example is the relations between dairy farmers and the big supermarket chains: the latter leverage their massive bargaining power to drive down milk prices to a level where dairy producers are selling at a loss, while the supermarkets themselves use low milk prices as a loss leader to attract customers.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted September 6, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Yes. It is worth saying (pace in particular the following comment 26) that fox-hunting has not been a sport solely for effete, blue-blooded types, to whom we may all feel splendidly superior and whom we may all agree to dislike, but has involved a rather larger proportion of the rural population than the aristocratic, or the royal.

      • Bob
        Posted September 6, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Yes, but I submit that most of those fox-hunters from the “rural population” aspire to be among and part of the “splendidly superior effete, blue-blooded types.” That is a prime motivator for riding around in sartorial splendor with the yapping dogs, gnawing at the caucuses of little foxes.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted September 7, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

          ‘Caucuses’! How many foxes make a caucus?

  26. Mike Brogan
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Oscar Wilde described them “the Hunt” as”the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable” and as long has we have a Monarchy you will still have the Priviledged Classes who claim it as their Birthright to kill any animals as they wish by Gun or Dog makes no difference, because Mr and Mrs Windsor and their direct Brood also Kill Animals for Sport.


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