Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Here's an interesting quandary for proponents of dressing in daft outfits and chasing small furry animals across the countryside in packs in the interests of 'sport' and 'control' of the pest that foxes undoubtedly are: the government is planning to shoot itself in the foot once more with a cull of badgers in the interests of controlling bovine TB in cattle, a plan which is contentious in the extreme and one which I cannot claim any expertise on.

However, always one to venture an opinion, if the government is advocating shooting badgers to control them, why can't the same be done to control foxes, instead of the farce of the 'Jeremy', to take the Culture Secretary's name in vain?

Historical note: foxes are not native to Britain. They were introduced for hunting.


  1. Sorry Andy, are you suggesting that the main form of population control for foxes in this country is hunting with hounds?

  2. I have no idea, Doctor, but I do know that the proponents of this particularly ludicrous pursuit claim that it is a key tool in controlling foxes.

    That, of course, is taking into account that the hunts do not actively hunt foxes: they merely chase any they 'happen' upon in the course of riding through the countryside with a pack of dogs.

    Why do you ask, medicine man?

  3. I've not idea what the pro-hunt lobby claim but it doesn't seem logical that the occasional hunt would be able to keep the estimated UK fox population of 240000 at some stable level so my gut reaction was that most foxes are already culled using guns. A quick google seems to back up my supposition and indeed throws up the interesting fact that the wounding rates can be as high as 40% for rifles and 60% for shotguns. So from a pure animal welfare standpoint using guns hardly seems that humane.

  4. That may be true, but then packs of dogs chasing these animals for miles and then tearing them apart can hardly be described as more humane, can it?

    100% of foxes involved in hunts are chased then torn to shreds. Statistically speaking, therefore, shooting still wins in terms of being humane, I'd say, as it is quick and probably painless for 60% of animals. A shotgun is a different prospect altogether.

  5. Ah but my point wasn't to compare the relative humanity of either method, but rather simply to point out the rather glib nature of your declaration that shooting them would be so much better, since most are already shot, and indeed presumably the majority hunted with hounds these days are also shot since I believe the law simply forbids you to kill them with hounds.

    If the current fox population is approximately a quarter of a million and a litter is typically 4 to 6 'kits', then if the overall intention is to maintain the status quo (unlike badgers) then I assume a fair amount of foxes are shot and of those it seems that ~50% are only wounded that's an awful lot of injured foxes.

    What I think gets my back here is that why out of all vermin do foxes garner such affection? I don't see people protesting because rats and mice are slaughtered day in day out, nor does the sheer number of birds killed by domesticated cats get much press. No it's basically because, as your original post proved, hunting with dogs is the preserve of "toffs" and that so much of ire of the anti-hunt lobby is inextricably fueled by class hatred.

    So to conclude what I find most interesting is that we seem to have reach a fairly equitable solution; people can still dash about the country side on horses in silly clothes but they can't actually let their dogs rip the foxes to shreds, but you still harp on about it. Can you really say hand on heart that you are purely motivated by the animal welfare Andy?

  6. Yes, Medicine Man, I can. I have no particular affection for foxes and I'm quite comfortable for a pest to be controlled. I simply want it to be done as quickly and humanely as possible.

    My disdain for fox hunting is not fuelled by class hatred, simply by a recognition that it is an absird anachronism which doesn't even do what it says it does, which is to control foxes, as the plethora of statistics you provide proves.

    Why can't people just ride around in daft outfits without needing to take a pack of dogs for a run as well?

    As for the idea that fox hunts don't actually kill foxes, do a bit more research, Dr Z. Most foxhounds tend not to respond to polite exhortations not to kill the animal they have been bred to chase so yes, foxes do get killed by fox hunts. If they don't what's the point of them?

    Anyone for Joseph Heller?

  7. Aiee, I spelt 'absurd' incorrectly. I am mortified but please, dear reader, be assured that it was a typo.

  8. Sure, I wasn't trying to suggest that foxes aren't killed and I think we both agree that the pro-hunting lobby's argument that it is somehow key to controlling foxes. However, I can only re-iterate my main point, which was that foxes are in the main shot and that if between 40 to 60% of those shot are wounded rather than killed then it is neither quick nor humane. And we haven't even covered traps and poisoning in this thread.

  9. Frankly, I am not that interested in this subject. I simply find foxhunting absurd, although as a good liberal I wouldn't actually ban it, just let it wither, which is what was happening until 'New' Labour embarked on what was very clearly a class war.