On 17th April 2017, the Guardian published ‘Hunting ban wrecked foxes’ country lifestyle’, a biased letter written in favour of bringing back the cruel sport of hunting wild mammals for sport.

The letter claims the Hunting Act has harmed rural foxes resulting in a rising population of foxes in urban areas.

According to the letter, the ban has forced urban foxes to seek sanctuary in towns and cities as life in the countryside post ban is ‘far worse’ now that they cannot be legally hunted and killed.

The author of the letter also makes the false assertion that hunting served as a legitimate form of ‘pest control’, and now foxes, instead of being ‘conserved sporting quarry’ for hunts to chase and rip apart for sport, are considered ‘vermin’.

The letter goes on to argue that without hunting, which apparently involves ‘an instant death’, foxes now suffer more through being snared and shot. However what Mr Clayton fails to mention is that foxes have always unfortunately been the target of game keepers seeking to ‘protect’ valuable ‘game’ bird stocks and in reality, a fox will suffer multiple agonising injuries caused by the hounds before dying. The ‘one nip to the neck’ line spouted by the pro-hunt lobby is nothing more than a myth.

The League asked the Guardian to publish its response to the letter, however unfortunately they didn’t, so here it is below.

Sir,

I’m writing in response to ‘Hunting ban wrecked foxes’ country lifestyle’ 17.04.17. Mr Clayton makes the assertion that the Hunting Act has harmed the rural fox, but yet fails to provide any evidence to back up his claims.

There’s no evidence to suggest that an increase in the urban fox population is caused by a migration of rural foxes. Food availability in urban areas is sufficient enough to create a self-maintained fox population that doesn’t require rural foxes to explain high numbers.

Also, hunting has absolutely nothing to do with pest control, it’s about bloodsports. The ban seeks to protect wild animals by making it illegal to chase and kill them for sport. Science suggests that animals suffer physiological and psychological stress when chased by a hunt, whether or not they are eventually killed. The Government commissioned Burns Report, makes it clear that hunted animals suffer during the later stages of the chase and at the kill.

If hunting was truly about ‘pest control’ then hunts would not be deliberately breeding foxes on farmer's land, capturing them to later hunt or training their hounds to kill fox cubs, as exposed by the League Against Cruel Sports.

There’s no evidence to suggest more foxes are being killed post ban. Foxes have unfortunately always been persecuted, especially by gamekeeper’s snares to protect valuable ‘game’ birds.

Undoubtedly mange is an awful disease, however being chased to exhaustion and ripped apart by a pack of dogs does by no means equate to an ‘instant death’.

Yours Faithfully,

Jordi Casamitjana
Head of Policy and Research, League Against Cruel Sports