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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 07:19 GMT
Hunting: The arguments in Scotland
Huntsman with hounds
The bill intends to ban mounted fox hunts in Scotland
Fox hunting is considered cruel and unnecessary by those who are determined to see it outlawed in Scotland.

Pro-hunt campaigners deny that the hunt is cruel, saying that it is a practical and useful method of controlling the fox population.

It is estimated that there are 23,000 foxes in Scotland, although it is difficult to know for sure.

However, it is indisputable that foxes are wild predators that eat rabbits, hares, mice, poultry and small lambs.

Fox hunt
There are 10 hunts in Scotland

The extent of the damage done by foxes is a matter which is contested.

Countryside campaigners support mounted fox hunts as a method of controlling the number of foxes.

The mounted hunt involves foxes being chased by a pack of hounds and a group of huntsmen and women on horseback for several hours.

The hounds follow the fox until it is driven into hiding, killed by the dogs or escapes.

Hunt supporters do not believe this is a cruel sport.

The fox does not anticipate death and is not unduly traumatised by the pursuit, they say.

Anti-hunt protesters
Protesters say hunting is cruel

And they add that the fox is often killed by a "quick nip" to the back of the head, which they allege kills it outright.

Hunting, they say, not only kills one fox, but disperses others.

The alternatives - shooting, gassing, snaring or poisoning - would all inflict much more pain and suffering on the foxes, according to hunt supporters.

Other arguments used by pro-hunt campaigners include the defence of countryside traditions and the number of people employed either directly or indirectly in the fox hunts.

The south of Scotland, which has the majority of the country's 10 mounted hunts, would be worst affected by a hunt ban.

Animal welfare campaigners say fox hunting is cruel and unnecessary.

Mike Watson
Mike Watson sponsored the bill

They point to the fact that the fox has no natural predators except man, and is therefore not accustomed to being chased.

They say that if, and only if, there is a specific problem with a fox in one area, then shooting by a marksman is the only humane way to deal with the problem.

And they do not accept the country sport lobby's stance that foxes are pests, and need to be destroyed somehow.

They reject claims of a quick, clean death for the fox and say that killing wild animals for pleasure should not be acceptable in this day and age.

Background and analysis of one of the most contentious issues in British politics

Latest stories

The Scottish ban

Analysis

Background

TALKING POINT
See also:

13 Feb 02 | Scotland
12 Feb 02 | Scotland
08 Feb 02 | Scotland
07 Feb 02 | Scotland
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