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article imageRepealing the Ban Would Mean No Life for Foxes Special

By Lynn Curwin     Mar 3, 2010 in World
A repeal of the Hunting Act would mean that foxes could once again be torn apart by dogs at the end of a hunt. Animal Advocates are encouraging people to express their support for the ban.
People often admire images of horses and hounds ready for a fox hunt, but what happened to foxes at the end of a hunt would make many people feel ill. The small animals were often ripped apart while still alive before the Hunting Act became law. Now, some people want the Act repealed.
Pro-hunting groups, and some politicians, want to see a return to dogs killing foxes during hunts. David Cameron, Conservative party leader, has said he would hold a free vote on whether to repeal the Act if he becomes prime minister; even though an Ipsos Mori survey, taken in September 2009, showed that 75 per cent of British people do not want to see a return to this type of fox hunting.
Although hunters claim foxes are killed quickly, post-mortem evidence has shown foxes often suffer multiple injuries, and some are disemboweled, before being killed.
The Hunting Act came into effect in February 2004, making it illegal to chase and kill foxes, deer, hare and mink with dogs. Hounds are still allowed to follow the scent of a fox, but are not allowed to kill the animal.
“It is our understanding that there are some hunts which are hunting illegally, or certainly pushing the law to its limit,” said Louise Robertson, deputy head of campaigns and communications for the League Against Cruel Sports. “We have a team of highly professional observers who monitor the activities of hunts up and down the country and our intelligence shows there is a degree of criminal activity taking place among some hunts. There have been around 130 convictions since the law came into force.”
Hunters often use the excuse that hunts keep fox numbers under control, but the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has film showing the some hunts bred foxes in artificial earths to ensure there were enough of the animals nearby. Dr. Robert Atkinson, head of wildlife for the RSPCA, has said the idea that fox numbers were ever controlled by hunting cannot be justified, and that the ban had not affected numbers.
Foxes can be beneficial to farmers, eating many rabbits and other rodents which cause crop damage.
There is concern about the effect fox hunting has on the image of the UK.
“Fox hunting is an extremely cruel and outdated tradition that has no place in a modern, civilised society and the fact the UK has taken action to make hunting for sport illegal is extremely commendable and can only reflect well on the its image internationally,” said Robertson. “It is worth noting that a repeal of the Hunting Act will not only bring back fox hunting but also hare hunting, hare coursing and deer hunting; all of which were made illegal under the Hunting Act. Polling figures have shown consistently that around three quarters of the public do not want fox hunting to be made legal again but when you look at figures for these other ‘sports’ covered by the Act the figures rise to around 85 per cent, showing the strength of feeling on this issue.”
The League Against Cruel Sports ( http://www.league.org.uk/) and the IFAW (www.ifaw.org/ifaw_united_kingdom/ ) both have graphic footage filmed before the Hunting Act came into force. Chases were sometimes deliberately prolonged by blocking holes. Foxes that did make it into holes were driven out by terriers or dug out.
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The League Against Cruel Sports
Robertson suggested that people who are concerned about a repeal raise the issue with their candidates in the general election and communicate their concerns about a return to the cruelty of hunting. A campaign called Back the Ban, which is supported by actors such as Patrick Stewart, Tony Robinson and Jenny Seagrove, has also been organized and can be found online at www.backtheban.com .
More about Hunting, Foxes, Animal, Cruelty, Robert atkinson
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