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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 11:54 GMT
Does fox-hunting have a future?
MPs have backed a total ban on fox hunting. Hopes of the hunting lobby now lie with the House of Lords which is expected to overturn the vote.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The Pro-hunt lobby says hunting is a vital part of country life and provides employment for 16,000 people - and that people in rural areas have a basic right to choose if they want to hunt.
Opponents reject the economic and civil liberty arguments and say every year thousands of animals are being chased and killed in the name of sport.
With Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and Ann Widdecombe supporting a ban - does fox-hunting have a future?
In years to come, those who today condone animals being ripped to shreds by packs of dogs as a sport shall be vilified and scorned in history books.
Until this barbarous practice is stopped, Britain cannot be considered a civilised society.
Unfortunately I have to agree with Matthew S. As a townie I realise that I am totally ill-equipped to further criticise country folk who have seen their environment so eroded over the last 30 years. No matter how brutal I personally see fox hunting, I really feel that we should leave those who know best how to look after the countryside to it, lest they tell us in the towns how to run our lives.
Alex White, UK
Firstly, I'm not a "townie", which seems to be a derogatory term for anyone opposed to the pro-hunt point of view. I lived on a farm as a child and have lived in the country all my life.
I find this whole topic totally black and white. To any right-minded human being, especially those who profess to be Christian, to hunt a living creature to death for no other reason than self gratification is abhorrent! And I do not believe this argument about keeping numbers down. I'm not a vegetarian but I believe "If you're not going to eat it, don't kill it!"
What amazes me is the contradictions that are used by the foxhunting lobby. On the one hand they'll say, "its necessary to keep down the fox population", and on the other they'll say "the fox is only killed in a small percentage of hunts". Well make your mind up! One argument defeats the other! It just shows the inconsistency and attempts that the lobby will go to. It knows its time is up.
I can't seriously believe anyone with any common sense at all would agree with fox hunting in the first place.
Natalie Newton, England
Ah, tradition - the last refuge of a lost argument!
It saddens me to see our MPs spending so much of their time on such a trivial matter rather then dealing with real issues. It is sad to think that British people are more concerned over the welfare of a wild animal, that is not endangered, rather then their fellow citizens. Where will this madness end?
Torturing any animal to death is unacceptable. If the population needs to be controlled (which is a debate in itself) then find another way.
As for banning some of the other things mentioned below, sure, let's do it but you have to start somewhere so fox-hunting seems a good one.
Urban political correctness strikes at the heart of the countryside once again. As to "more humane" methods? Shooting usually just wounds resulting in a slow death and poisoning is indiscriminate. Fox hounds finish the job very efficiently. It's just a shame that the naive urban majority have falsely triumphed once again.
I don't particularly care for fox-hunting but foxes are a problem in rural areas, especially if you are trying to raise chickens. As to whether it should be banned, given the state of our schools, trains, hospitals and the eternal threat of European advancement I suspect the Government could find more important matters to deal with. Now they have banned foxhunting I propose they spend the next parliamentary session considering a ban on loud shirts in public places as these cause considerable distress to my eyes.
No one has said anything yet about the dogs. Twenty per cent of a fox hound group are killed every year to make sure the "best" are available for "sport". When a dog is between six to eight years old they are put down (do you think there are retirement homes for old hounds?). If foxes need to be controlled let professional cullers do it rather than these misguided people..
Fox hunting is in no way a "sport", and is a terribly inefficient way of "controlling pests", so I'm for banning it. My heart bleeds for those whose livelihoods are at stake, just as for those who made a living out of cock fighting and bear baiting. The only difference is that cock fighting and bear baiting are lower class barbarity whereas fox hunting is upper class barbarity.
Potential loss of jobs is irrelevant. If something is undesirable, then we should stop doing it, and those currently associated with it must change. Did we consider the job losses when we banned hand guns?
I no longer understand this country. Why is it that we seek to destroy all that is old and traditional and replace it with the lifeless culture of today? Why can't tradition have a place anymore? I say keep hunting, encourage it and get more people involved! This whole issue is a joke and I hope people do start to come to their senses.
I support fox-hunting generally as it improves habitats in an otherwise over intensive industry. I believe the drive to ban fox-hunting has picked up the mantle of being a struggle between urban protagonists and rural sympathisers, whereby the politicians are failing to understand some of the broader issues such as habitat conservation and country living.
I do not approve of fox-hunting but I do not think it should be banned because it discriminates against a minority group. This is the thin end of the wedge. By exactly the same criteria of animal welfare will there be a call for a ban on kosher and hallal butchery? I hope not as this would also be blatant discrimination.
If ever there was proof that Tony Blair does not have the courage of his convictions, it is that at the last minute he stays away from the fox-hunting vote, after engineering the possibility of a minor breakthrough in Northern Ireland (but of course we mustn't raise our hopes). How gullible does he think we are? Come on Mr Blair - you started it. At least have the decency to witness the trouble you've caused.
The fox is a living creature that feels pain and stress like any other animal. Anyone that gets pleasure from watching an animal chased to exhaustion then ripped to pieces must be sick in the head. How would these hunting enthusiasts feel if their pets were abused in such a fashion? Hunting with hounds should be banned as it has no place in the 21st century.
Surely there are other activities that could be equally held worthy of banning, e.g. fishing and bird shooting. There might be a more rational debate if there were a few more generally accepted criteria of what was and was not acceptable in the 21st Century. Perhaps an Animal Sports Regulatory Authority with a wide remit might allow a less emotional debate, both now and in the future.
Help me...somebody...please....I agree on something with Ann Widdecombe.
I find it amazing that in a world in which Palestinians and Israelis are fighting and African states are internally combusting, our government finds the time to pander to the luxurious idealism of the masses. Such is the curse of democracy.
Fox hunting is about culling foxes - the only argument should be about any better alternative methods.
So Tories claim foxhunting should not be banned because it would cause job losses? Since when has that been a reason to keep anything? Where were you when Thatcher was throwing millions, yes millions, out of work because they had no place in her economic programmes? I don't recall any of you complaining about job losses then. And as for saying that you only hunt to save the fox, what a joke. You do it because you get a kick out of killing animals. Not for food or any other bi-product, but for the sheer pleasure of killing. At least have the integrity to be honest about that!
You naive townies are condemning foxes to the same treatment as Exmoor deer - inaccurate pot-shot shooting! Hunting has a place and a future because when the National Trust hired marksmen wing or wound an animal they have to call in the very hunts they banned from their land to put the poor animal out of its misery. Have no doubt about this, to ban hunting will remove this option of a humane kill and condemn many animals to a painful slow death.
Perhaps we should see the fox actually get caught occasionally on TV footage. Then, after seeing a fox torn to pieces by a pack of hounds we could see what sort of "sport" this is. I wonder where the middle ground votes would be then?
I think that this is not really a question of animals being killed. It seems like this is more a question of this Government's insistence in telling us all how to run our lives. So what if the hunters want to chase after foxes. If they enjoy it and it creates an industry that has jobs and investment then why not?
The real loser if Blair manages to get this through, will be our freedom to act as we want to.
Hunting shouldn't be banned. It's been a way of life for centuries and keeps people employed. The Government would be far better employed in investigating battery-chicken farming - now that's cruel!
When will the anti-hunt lobby realise that hunts are about animal welfare? There would be NO DEER on Exmoor if they hadn't been reintroduced for the sake of hunting, and now there is a well managed thriving population. The hypocrisy of the anti-hunt lobby stuns me. There are far more important things to worry about than ruining the livelihood, pleasure and freedom of people who really care about animals for the sake of some inaccurate inverted snobbery and worse anthropomorphism.
Why should the Government have the right to put a ban on something that has gone on for generations? If that is the case, will rugby be banned for its brutality?
No matter what the wrongs or rights of fox-hunting are it should not be for any group of people to force their views onto others. Many people disagree with eating meat, but we don't stop killing cows do we!
Kate, Rural UK
It's interesting to note that working class cruelty based sports have indeed already been outlawed. 16,000 jobs is an unsubstantiated claim made by the pro-hunt lobby. As for it being only us townies who want to see a ban, I grew up in the countryside and many of the farmers banned the hunt from their land because of the damage they caused! Not that the arrogant local gentry didn't trespass anyway when it suited them.
I am not a pro or anti-hunt fanatic, but even I can see that the wrong problem is being tackled. Fox hunts are rarely successful, while every day fowl and livestock are subjected to intensive farming and cruel conditions. Battery hens may never get to even walk in their lifespan. But chickens, pigs and cows don't have the "cute factor". I love the fox, and would never hunt one, but I recognise that foxhunting is a minor issue in comparison to our more commercial cruelties. I would rather see us tackle these "factory cruelties".
Jean Bell, Scotland
The report on this website that describes members of the League Against Cruel Sports dressing up as foxes and deer goes to the heart of their misguided anthropomorphism. It isn't possible for us to live without inflicting suffering on other species. But to satisfy their own conscience, anti-hunters like to pretend they are doing something for animals by banning hunting. It would be far more constructive to do something about factory farming - but that is a cruelty in which the vast majority of the population participates, however indirectly - including most of those who want to see hunting banned. Overall, hunted foxes lead a far better life than the owner of the chicken breast or pork chop you and I buy in the supermarket.
The idea of deriving pleasure from chasing and killing a frightened defenceless animal is thoroughly abhorrent. Fox-hunting is an unjustifiable relic of a violent, barbaric past, and the fools who support it so forcefully need to examine their own values and lifestyle, and drag themselves into the real world.
Toby Jones, UK
Fox-hunting and its arrogant supporters should be left in the past where they belong. Sadly I do not think this Government will have the guts to push through such daring legislation, and a watery "middle ground" compromise is the best we can hope for.
I am sick of being chased by a bunch
of bloodthirsty twits on horseback
accompanied by a pack of brainwashed
I have seen so many of my friends and
relatives ripped apart, young cubs orphaned
and mother and father foxes losing their cubs,
all in the name of so-called 'SPORT'.
Come on, get real - this is not a sport!
If we (the foxes) are to be culled, or kept to a
limited number for whatever reason, be it
overpopulation, or danger to farmers' animal
stocks, then let it be done humanely.
After all, is it not quicker, easier, and less
traumatic to employ one or two skilled hunters,
with a shotgun and a tracker dog, than a gutless
gallivanting mob of bloodlusting Ruperts to do the
And don't get me started on my other friend... Mr Badger!!!
Mark B, UK
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Once Labour targets an item such as fox-hunting They will move on to other bans. Then we will see fishing banned and other events or pastimes.
I'm pretty indifferent on the question of fox-hunting - after all, they're only animals. However, if it is decided to allow it to continue as a sport for the rich, it would be gross hypocrisy if working-class sports also based on animal cruelty, such as dog fighting, were to remain illegal.
17 Jan 01 | UK Politics
MPs set to ban fox hunting
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