Nice of your correspondent Rob to support my disapproval of fox hunters. I note that even at the tender age of seven when they scared him, trampled across his lawn as though they owned the place, he recognised that the local hunt, contrary to Countryside Alliance propaganda, had no interest whatsoever in protecting his poultry.
Rob scolds me for omitting statistics on foxand poultry problems but unfortunately I can find no figures, so let us assess the situation based on our own observations.
On my excursions into the countryside I see arable, beef and dairy farms with almost no sign of poultry. The vast majority of hens are crammed indoors and never see daylight, never mind a fox. Hobby farmers and smallholders lock their birds up at night as did Rob’s family presumably, except for the one mistake to which he referred, and I am sure he will admit.
So really, how great is the problem? So small that even Rob as a poultry farmer has to delve deep into his childhood to retrieve just one memory of a serious fox/hen conflict.
Where I strongly disagree with Rob, and ecologists will support me, is that foxes do not kill for pleasure. Fox hunters do, but not foxes.
Foxes spend their lives hungry and like most predators, are conditioned to kill when the opportunity arises. In the wild they are successful around 25 per cent of the time but when they enter a shed full of prey, it is an experience they find confusing and instinct takes over.
There is no point in ascribing evil human thought processes to the fox. We should reserve this for the hunters.
I conclude by stating that I have no qualm with an occasional poultry keeper shooting a particularly troublesome fox. He does not kill for pleasure, and neither does the fox, but we can’t say the same for the fox hunter, who keeps or breeds foxes specifically for the pleasure of killing them.