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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 11:28 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.

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?


The welfare of a few foxes is insignificant next to major issues such as these

JR, Worcs, UK
I would firstly like to clarify a few facts. You have to be extremely skilled as a hunter to kill a fast moving fox at range, which leaves the chance of a seriously wounded animal dying in great pain hours or days after its been shot. The lead shot which is scattered over the countryside will poison wildlife. Trapping is ineffective, and a fox will often bite off its own leg rather than remain in a trap. Gassing kills the whole group of foxes, young or old, weak or strong. Secondly, when will people realise that Blair is just using this as a political smokescreen to hide the decaying transport services, crumbling NHS and rising crime figures. The welfare of a few foxes is insignificant next to major issues such as these.
J R, Worcs, UK

I am no country bumpkin and then again I am no townie, but we have to be sensible. Hunting is a tradition, like bullfighting. I would just love to see the EU try to stop the Spanish. Hunting is not just a sport it is a way of life for those who take part. Why not ban boxing and fishing for their inhumanity to life of people and animals respectively?.
Ellejay, Cheshire, England

No! It's an outdated, cruel and pointless past time. All those who are screaming about job losses should get out into the real world and get proper jobs!
Polly, Wales

The issue is not just foxhunting. The issue is the broader one of what limits your government's intrusion into the lives of its citizens. The Blair Government demands that you Brits believe as they do on major issues and trivial ones such as foxhunting. All part of Labour's agenda where a lazy, covetous, and officious bureaucracy oversees the lives of its citizenry and then taxes them for the privilege of this supervision. Perhaps Labour's time might be better on matters such as drug use and street crime.
K. Jenne, USA

As a "country" dweller, and someone who has had flocks of chickens destroyed by foxes, I agree there is a case for controlling their population. However, hunting is not only inherently cruel, it is also incredibly ineffective as a practical way of controlling pests. By all means shoot the foxes if they are a problem. Hunting is not pest control.
Christian Hunt, UK

Regardless of the economic consequences, I believe the practice of killing animals for enjoyment is not morally viable in a civilised country. It must be banned.
Richard Evans, England

The issue is about killing for pleasure, nothing else

Peter Kidds, UK
A ban is long overdue. The issue is about killing for pleasure, nothing else. Those who support its continuation hide behind arguments about vermin control and job losses in the countryside. There can be no justification in protecting jobs for the perpetuation of this medieval barbarism.
Peter Kidds, UK

That it is tradtional is no argument. So were hanging, corporal punishment, witch hunts and the feudal system. All thankfully part of history.
Edward Haworth, UK

Foxhunters have no right to presume the support of all country people

John Luby, Scotland
I've lived in a rural area for over 30 years now, and the blatant hypocrisy of foxhunting makes me almost as sick as the cruelty. We're told that 'country people' are for foxhunting and against interference by 'townies'. Both sides of this argument are entitled to their opinion - if not their practices. But foxhunters have no right to presume the support of all country people for this barbaric sport.
John Luby, Scotland

Simply put, intentionally subjecting any animal to undue pain, stress and fear is one of mankind's few 'true sins'. Ban the hunt!

The anti - hunting feeling seems to me to be motivated by a kind of inverted snobbery as well as a profound ignorance of the real nature of foxes and mink. Many who hunt are working farmers, and many hunts, particularly in the fells, hunt on foot. As for mink, vicious killers and destroying much of our own wildlife, hunting with hounds is by far the most efficient means of control.
J Dodd, UK

If the ban takes place, people will lose their jobs

Adrian Butler, England
Fox hunting shouldn't be banned, that's the bottom line!! My dad works in the horse saddle trade, a lot of saddles are sold to fox hunters, if the ban takes place, people will lose their jobs.
Adrian Butler, England

Ban foxhunting, then you must ban fishing, shooting and falconry. It is incorrect and unfair to compare hunting to something such as bear-baiting - most hunting people never see a fox being killed. When a fox is caught it is killed instantaneously - always - unlike fish.
Ed, UK

If hunting could be monitored to ensure the animals were killed "humanely" then it should be allowed to continue

Mary Scaping, UK
I do not personally approve of fox or stag hunting but each to their own. However, there are more foxes and deer killed on the roads than during a hunt. Most farmers conduct fox culls in order to keep the local population down. If hunting could be monitored to ensure the animals were killed "humanely" then it should be allowed to continue. The sight of a duck or chicken killed by a fox is not a pretty one.
Mary Scaping, UK

This is a sad day for civil liberties in the UK, and a victory for the intolerant, busybody-state.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

I think that fox hunting should be kept because it has been around for over a hundred years. I can see the point about it being cruel to the foxes but it is a sport for this country.
Aaron, England

I hope and pray foxhunting has no future. If it was a workingman's sport it would have been banned years ago along with bear baiting. The rich, powerful and aristocratic will ensure it continues.
Joan, USA

I don't follow hounds to murder cute fluffy animals

J Giles, England
I follow a pack of hounds to see them working with each other and their huntsman, following the scent of a fox. Whether or not they kill is determined by the health and age of the fox, if he is fit he gets away, if he isn't, and it is the unhealthy which steal the easy chicken, then he doesn't.

If he goes to ground it is the farmer whose land he is living on who determines his end. I don't follow hounds to murder cute fluffy animals or see them ripped to pieces because neither of those things has ever happened in my sight.
J Giles, England

If hunting with dogs is banned, it is possible that more foxes will actually be killed by an increase in the number of foxes being shot. Dogs instinctively go for the neck, to kill the fox rapidly. Shooting relies on the talent of the firer, which is often questionable.
Nicholas Tucker, England

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.
Ray Marsh, Australia

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.
Phil Eadie, UK

No one is above the law

Alex White, UK
It's a disgusting sport, and I don't buy the whole country -v- city argument at all. I now live in the city, but I lived in the country for 15 years, and I only met one person who was in favour of fox hunting. It's an outdated, barbaric and sickening "sport" (in the loosest sense of the word). The majority of people want a ban, so ban it. If the countryside alliance defies the ban, then they must be punished. No one is above the law, not even the Royal Family.
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!"
Chris Roberts, North Wales

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.
Stu Mitchell, UK

A ban on fox hunting would be just another nail in the coffin of the countryside

Natalie Newton, England
A ban on fox hunting would be just another nail in the coffin of the countryside. It is sad that such misinformed people have the power to decide what it right for millions... safe in the knowledge that their jobs won't be lost and they won't be homeless.
Natalie Newton, England

Ah, tradition - the last refuge of a lost argument!
Ian Marlow, England

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?
Justin Tighe, UK

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.
As for governments running our lives, of course they do, what do you suggest as an alternative? Anarchy? I can't see the fox-hunting brigade coming out on top in that one.
L. Morgan, USA/UK

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.
Matthew S, UK

I suspect the Government could find more important matters to deal with

John B, UK

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.
John B, UK

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..
Neil, UK

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?
Andy Brown, England

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.
Tomasz Domanski, UK

There are plenty of other, more humane ways of dealing with them

Elaine, UK
How can so-called gentlemen and ladies describe this barbaric slaughter as being a sport? I am from "Farming Stock" and would not dream of hunting a fox - there are plenty of other, more humane ways of dealing with them. In answer to the biggest excuse the landed gentry can come up with (loss of jobs) I ask WHY? There are such things as trail hunting (following a trail instead of an animal) and of course you still need hounds, kennels and staff to run these. You can still gallop across the countryside and have your fun but there is no blooding at the end of it. Tally Ho!
Elaine, UK

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.
Matt P. Neal, Aberdeen, Scotland

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.
Gary W, UK

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.
Dominic Welby, UK

A fox can inflict a painful death on a number of lambs in a night's work

Alex, Scotland
What some people tend to forget is that foxes don't just kill 'a couple of chickens here and there', but they can do serious damage to livestock. As anyone who has seen it will tell you, a fox can inflict a painful death on a number of lambs in a night's work, leaving others with horrendous injuries. Not quite the Basil Brush image popularly portrayed. I don't particularly agree with fox-hunting, as it is an very inefficient way of culling these vermin, (what the terribly wealthy waste their money on is their business). However fox numbers do need to be kept under control in a more controlled and efficient manner.
Alex, Scotland

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.
Peter van Esberg, Netherlands

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.
D. Short, Russia

Help me...somebody...please....I agree on something with Ann Widdecombe.
Avi Freeman, UK

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.
Richard N, UK

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!
Andrew Smith, USA/ ex Britain

My objection to fox hunting is not related to it's motives but to the execution

Peter, UK
My objection to fox hunting is not related to it's motives but to the execution. It seems to me that one of the main arguments of the pro hunt lobby is that it keeps down the fox population as they are considered a pest, which I can't really argue with. The problem I have is that in carrying out this "pest control" the foxes are subjected to unreasonable cruelty and as someone has already pointed out hunts are not always successful, so as a means of "pest control" it's a bit flawed. Deer are regularly culled in Richmond park to keep down the numbers, but it is done in as humane a way as possible and not by a group of people on horses with a pack of hounds chasing the deer round the park then letting the hounds tear it to pieces. I think hunting with dogs is cruel and barbaric and I hope it is banned.
Peter, UK

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.
David Croney, UK

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?
Daren, UK

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.
Antony Calvert, England

How come riot police and helicopters haven't been deployed yet?

Alison, UK
No, fox-hunting has no future. 16,000 jobs lost? Shame! How come riot police and helicopters haven't been deployed yet? A lot more miners lost their jobs and had their protests ruthlessly crushed. Ban this pointless and cruel hobby now. Send in the riot squads.
Alison, UK

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!
Sue Hudson, London W2, England

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.
Perdita Barran, UK

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?
Ryan Davies, Wales

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!
Mr Brown, UK

Foxes are a significant pest in the countryside

Kate, Rural UK
I hope hunting has a future. The reason it has prevailed is that it works. Foxes are a significant pest in the countryside. Gassing them is illegal, poisoning them is difficult without posing a risk to other animals and shooting them is difficult and time-consuming. From the farmer's point of view, hunting is a free and effective method of control.
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.
Colin Wright, UK

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".
Michael Gahan, Ireland

Fox-hunting is an outdated piece of nonsense

Jean Bell, Scotland
Fox-hunting is an outdated piece of nonsense. I live in a hunt-free area and we are not over-run by foxes, although we do see them. This is a recreation for the wealthy and is misrepresented as essential to country life. I, and many other rural people, find it very frustrating to be misrepresented by organisations such as the Countryside Alliance as supporters of any barbaric practice on the grounds of some vague appeal to country tradition. I hope this is banned along with all such pursuits.
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.
Rowland Byass, London

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.
Tony, UK

Fox-hunting has no future

Toby Jones, UK
No, fox-hunting has no future. Yes, jobs will be lost with its abolition, but I'm sure the abolition of slavery caused a few job losses too. It's a weak argument for upholding what is morally abhorrent. I hope and believe that within fifty years we will look back on fox-hunting in much the same way as we look back on witch burning and bear baiting.
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.
Mr T, UK

I am sick of being chased by a bunch of bloodthirsty twits on horseback accompanied by a pack of brainwashed hound dogs. 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 necessary job? And don't get me started on my other friend... Mr Badger!!!
Basil Brush, Rural Britain

Surely a farmer is smarter than a fox when it comes down to chicken coup security

Mark B, UK
It doesn't have a future following changes to the structure of the House of Lords. The Government should have less resistance getting it through now there are a smaller number of hereditary peers. Good thing too; I believe the figure of 16,000 jobs at risk is massively overstated, and the need for hunting can be laid at the door of bad animal husbandry; surely a farmer is smarter than a fox when it comes down to chicken coup security. Even the urban fox problem could be dealt with if people bothered to use proper dustbins. Fox hunting is merely a way for rich landowners to network - especially now the golf clubs are letting the oiks in.
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.
M. Rouse, York, UK

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.
David Clelland, Scotland

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17 Jan 01 | UK Politics
MPs set to ban fox hunting
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