Opinion, Veronica Clark: The fox isn’t the villain here - and hunting is wrong

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The fox has always been cast as the pantomime villain. As children, we were brought up on storybooks where the fox was cunning and evil, waiting to pounce on the poor, unsuspecting, and vulnerable. But in truth, foxes are just poor defenceless creatures.

Yes, they kill, as all wild animals do, but, for some reason, posh people, dressed in red coats and sitting on horses, feel it is enough to warrant packs of dogs to chase them through endless fields until they are scared witless and close to collapse.

They label this a ‘sport’, allowing those hounds to then tear the poor thing to pieces.

Recently Prime Minister David Cameron tried to relax the ban on fox hunting, which was made law in 2004. The Scottish National Party back-tracked on a commitment not to get embroiled in English issues and forced David Cameron to abandon the vote on weakening the fox hunting ban.

The current ban limits hunting for pest control to two dogs, but the changes Cameron proposed would have brought it in line with Scotland, where an unlimited number of dogs can be used to ‘flush out’ a fox to then be shot.

Personally, I find the whole idea of hunting any defenceless animal both horrific and unnecessary.

Others argue we need to cull foxes to protect farmers’ livestock, yet a study on farms in Scotland concluded foxes were responsible for less than 1 per cent of dead lambs.

DEFRA says more lambs would live longer if farmers brought them indoors to be born, quarantined, sheltered and supervised.

Besides being cruel in the extreme, it’s been proven fox hunting isn’t very efficient.

Before the 2004 ban, hunts killed approximately 20,000 foxes every year.

It’s a shocking figure, but compare this to the 100,000 foxes killed annually on our roads, and it knocks the argument that hunts help to control the fox population into a cocked hat.

Years ago I was invited by a group of hunt saboteurs to follow them for an investigative piece.

What struck me was how committed, passionate, and determined they were.

They knew just what to do to disrupt the hunt.

I was there to witness and report but I was shocked at how aggressive the fox hunters were, not only to the saboteurs but to their own dogs.

Hunting and killing helpless creatures isn’t a sport. It’s a vicious and outdated pastime which should be consigned to the history books of shame.