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Hunting always a minority activity – even in countryside

PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:41 02 January 2014

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the Hadleigh Boxing Day Hunt.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the Hadleigh Boxing Day Hunt.

archant

Once again we’ve had the annual Boxing Day ritual of a few dozen people turning up in smart costumes, supported by a hundred or so spectators, who maintain that fox hunting with dogs is vital to the future of the countryside.

Sky lanterns an appalling way to bring in the new year

We all have different ways of celebrating the New Year, but one of the least attractive new traditions is the release of burning candles into the atmosphere to see what they can set light to – or what animals they can kill or maim.

Sorry, I mean the release of sky lanterns to float above the ground for a few minutes before the person responsible loses interest and gets back to sipping the champers or whatever tipple they like.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has pointed out the dangers of these airborne incendiary devices – and it seems astonishing that the government has not taken any action against the menace.

I know people who live in thatched houses are very concerned about these lanterns floating around, there were reports of crops being set ablaze in the summer and a sky lantern was blamed for the huge fire at a Birmingham recycling centre.

Given the weather, fires are not perhaps the biggest danger at this time of the year. But lanterns can cause serious injuries, or death, to animals that find them in fields, woods, or at sea.

Along with balloons, they are a major concern for marine conservation campaigners – and farmers have reported livestock have been killed after attempting to eat the wire skeleton of the lanterns. Are these devices really worth all that pain for just a few seconds of interest?

It’s a humane and efficient way of keeping down the fox population. And without hunting with dogs large swathes of the countryside would become an economic desert.

Oh yes, and the moon is made of blue cheese and the earth is as flat as a pancake!

Let’s face it, hunting has always been a minority pastime – one that is only accessible to those with fairly substantial incomes – and it has been controversial for as long as I can care to remember.

I remember the first time I ever saw a hunt in my home village. There was quite a stir as all these posh people in red jackets rode through the street. It seemed quite exciting.

I was about eight or nine years old at the time, and when I told my school friends the next morning about it, one classmate told me exactly what happened at the end of a hunt. Apparently it was not just a game of tag with the fox!

From that moment on I’ve always been against hunting – and nothing I’ve heard or seen in the last 45 or so years has changed my mind.

I simply do not believe that chasing foxes with a pack of dogs across the countryside is an efficient method of pest control. I don’t believe that setting a group of specially-bred animals on to a single wild animal is humane. And I don’t believe that hunting is vital for the rural economy.

And as someone born on a Suffolk farm and brought up in a Suffolk village, I rather object to being told I don’t understand the countryside by an organisation whose head office is at Kennington Road, London SE11 4PT!

I have no objection to keen horse riders going for cross-country gallops across fields – providing farmers don’t object – but why do they have to take dogs with them?

The number of people taking part in this activity certainly doesn’t seem to have risen over the years, and I can’t help feeling that hunting is something that will eventually wither on the vine.

After all, the Countryside Alliance was crowing that 250,000 turned out to watch Boxing Day hunts. That’s 0.5% of the 56 million population of England and Wales.

Even in rural areas, hunting remains very much a minority concern.

If foxes are such a problem to the rural economy it would be better to control them by shooting them with a high-velocity rifle.
Having said that, the only problem I’ve ever heard about with rural foxes is that they can sometimes get into insecure chicken or turkey pens.

Surely the solution there is for poultry owners to check that their stock is left secure at night.

Editor’s note: We have always maintained a neutral stance on the controversial subject of hunting. However, we do respect the right of individuals to express strongly-held personal views – whether in support of, or against, hunting with dogs.

7 comments

  • dude 250000? 0.5 percent of the population, and that's only if you believe the countryside alliance spin (I don't as they have a pro agenda). That's barely enough people to get a law MENTIONED in parliament, let alone repealed. The only people who give a toss about the anachronism that ius hunting are the ones sat in the house of lords, another useless relic. Do the world a favour let it die out.

    Report this comment

    Aura Hazel

    Friday, January 3, 2014

  • Agree with you on the reasons sky lanterns, should be banned. I also want to know why fireworks now sound as though world war 3 is breaking out. Why they are let off now all through the year and go iff in the early hours for aB.B.Q or birthday. Nov 5 now extends to nearly a month. It is anti social and the sound of something akin to a landmine a few gardens away on too many nights, should be stopped. Whatever happened to a catherine wheel and a few pretty fireworks in the back garden on nov 5th, ONLY.for little ones finishing by 9. Much more pleasant times.

    Report this comment

    waspie

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

  • Why give so much space to someone who is clearly anti hunting, hundreds no thousands turn up for the Boxing day meets and they are extremely popular, yes hunting is a minority sport compared with football but just because of that should we ignore or denigrate it, hunting is a main stay in some very rural areas which would be quite dead in the winter months if it wasn't for the local meet of the hunt, it brings a lot of people together and this should not be forgotten

    Report this comment

    Norman Bryant

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

  • dude 250000? 0.5 percent of the population, and that's only if you believe the countryside alliance spin (I don't as they have a pro agenda). That's barely enough people to get a law MENTIONED in parliament, let alone repealed. The only people who give a toss about the anachronism that ius hunting are the ones sat in the house of lords, another useless relic. Do the world a favour let it die out.

    Report this comment

    Aura Hazel

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

  • Hardly a lot of space and time is it!? Just a brief article. Everyone is entitled to their view on the subject. One could equally ask why Mr White-Spunner has been given so much time to express the opposite view. As for hunting being the 'mainstay of some very rural areas,' well so were village pubs, but they're all but disappearing too, and they brought a lot of people together, but have been forgotten. Hunting with hounds is clearly more unpopular than it ever has been, and the law is constantly being flouted. You only have to read the comments from some of the pro supporters on social network sites, or, better still get into the field and monitor your local hunt. It's still very strange that the police usually take the side of the hunt and refuse to uphold the law. That's why we have to rely on the RSPCA to pursue the lawbreakers through the courts, costing them a lot of money. Money well spent I think. Shame we pay the police to do that job, but they can't be bothered to do it. Those who have a problem with the RSPCA's money being spent taking hunts to court should blame the police and not them!

    Report this comment

    Dody21

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

  • Nice article. It is illegal but unfortunately the police are neglecting their work and saving foxes from these medieval clowns is still being left to sabs.

    Report this comment

    Jay Holmes

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

  • Hardly a lot of space and time is it!? Just a brief article. Everyone is entitled to their view on the subject. One could equally ask why Mr White-Spunner has been given so much time to express the opposite view. As for hunting being the 'mainstay of some very rural areas,' well so were village pubs, but they're all but disappearing too, and they brought a lot of people together, but have been forgotten. Hunting with hounds is clearly more unpopular than it ever has been, and the law is constantly being flouted. You only have to read the comments from some of the pro supporters on social network sites, or, better still get into the field and monitor your local hunt. It's still very strange that the police usually take the side of the hunt and refuse to uphold the law. That's why we have to rely on the RSPCA to pursue the lawbreakers through the courts, costing them a lot of money. Money well spent I think. Shame we pay the police to do that job, but they can't be bothered to do it. Those who have a problem with the RSPCA's money being spent taking hunts to court should blame the police and not them!

    Report this comment

    Dody21

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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