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Rivals clash as hunt popularity ‘grows’

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 10, 2012

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More people are riding and supporting foxhunts than ever before, which hunt leaders says shows the ban on hunting has ‘failed spectacularly’.

The Dorset-based chairman of the Countryside Alliance said the latest survey of hunts across the West showed the pastime – and especially following a hunt – was more popular than it was before the controversial 2005 ban.

The statistics were released in the week the Hunt Saboteurs Association posted a video on its own website of hounds from the West’s most senior hunt apparently chasing a fox at the end of the opening day meet last weekend.

The Beaufort Hunt have denied deliberately hunting foxes, and said their hounds accidentally flushed out a fox and were called off from the chase, allowing the fox to escape.

The video shows hounds running around a thicket and then a fox racing across a field and through a lane full of hunt followers’ cars.

Saboteurs monitoring the hunt attempt to call the hounds off themselves, before members of the hunt arrive on horseback and call the hounds back.

“Nobody tried to stop the hounds,” said one of the hunt saboteurs, who said they had, until that point of the day, remained ‘undercover’.

“We had to break our cover to call them off. If we hadn’t been there it would have been killed.”

Lee Moon, from the Hunt Saboteurs Association, questioned the Beaufort Hunt’s claims they had laid a trail. The hunt was in Sopworth, Wiltshire, at the time, several miles from its original meeting place at Worcester Lodge, on the Badminton Estate.

He asked: “If the Beaufort Hunt were following a trail, as they claimed, then how and why did they lay it through thick undergrowth, underneath an old shed and then through a residential area?

“We are certain that two foxes were being chased and it was only the intervention of our members which helped them escape.”

Beaufort Hunt spokeswoman Jo Aldridge said the fox had simply crossed the trail laid for the hounds and some of the hounds began chasing the fox accidentally.

“At that particular moment there wasn’t a member of hunt staff nearby, but they did call the hounds off as soon as they could,” she said.

Hundreds of people attend the opening meet of the Beaufort and continue to support all hunts in the West, according to Barney White-Spunner, the chief executive of the Countryside Alliance.

He said a survey of hunts for the new season showed they were more popular than before the ban came into force. Figures showed more people follow hunts both mounted and on foot, and while more than half of hunts think they have roughly the same number of subscribers, almost a third say they have more since the moment hunting was banned in February 2005.

“Hunting remains in good heart and reports from around the country suggest that support is strong, despite the difficulties faced by staff and masters in dealing with the Hunting Act,” he said.

“A particular theme is the number of young people hunting, which can only bode well for the future, and it is to the future that we are always looking to remove the problems the law has brought for hunts, the police and in some cases the courts.

“The Hunting Act was an attack on rural people, rather than an attempt to improve animal welfare, which is why it has failed so spectacularly.”

Meanwhile, Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy has attacked the Prime Minister after it was revealed he went shooting in the 1990s and was given a rare-cooked stag’s liver to eat as a ‘rite of passage’ at a shooting dinner.

One of Mr Cameron’s old friends revealed yesterday that the Prime Minister ‘hid the liver under a salad to avoid eating it’, but Ms McCarthy said: “I think most people would find this pretty disgusting, but the old school, elitist, hunting, shooting, land-owning aristocratic classes have these bizarre rituals that most people wouldn’t indulge in.”

Columnist Bruce Anderson had recalled the meal in an article in the Spectator. He said it featured “a fresh liver from a young stag, cooked rare so that it seeps with blood – saignant, not bleu”.

He went on: “There were some wetties who were put off by the sight. Among their number, I regret to say, was the present Prime Minister.”

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  • eyeopener  |  November 15 2012, 8:40PM

    @2ladybugs Yes :-))))

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 15 2012, 5:38PM

    By-the-by.....I bet you-know-who is loving all this..........you and I arguing about his rotten old photo :((

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 15 2012, 5:31PM

    Yes you could, you could prove that it wasn't ripped to pieces by a pack of hounds, therefore it wouldn't be illegal unless you could prove that the fox had been chased or unearthed by more than two dogs. Also, a photo is a photo Nobody is trying to prove one way or the other. It is just proving that foxes are not ripped to pieces as all and sundry seems to keep assuming. That fox was shot.

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  • eyeopener  |  November 15 2012, 5:13PM

    As that photo shows only one dog, unless there was evidence that more than two dogs were used you couldn't prove anything. But that is exactly my point about the photo. "you couldn't prove anything."

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 15 2012, 5:08PM

    @eyeopener....your example shows large scale control of foxes which is not what hunts today are doing.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 15 2012, 5:05PM

    Hunts are allowed to take out a pair of dogs in certain circumstances and use them to flush foxes out to guns. As that photo shows only one dog, unless there was evidence that more than two dogs were used you couldn't prove anything. DAYLIGHT HOURS

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  • eyeopener  |  November 15 2012, 4:58PM

    "@eyeopener...that shows a huntsman in DAYLIGHT.....your point being?" This is what the Master of Foxhounds Association have to say: 1.Shooting with rifles. It is only practical for large scale control when carried out at NIGHT from a vehicle (hence vehicular access is necessary) with a lamp and whistle to "call up" foxes. "Actually I should think that the photo showing the fox was pre-foxhunting ban" It may well have been pre-foxhunting ban. The photo shows us absolutely nothing about HOW the fox died. One wonders why it was ever posted.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 15 2012, 4:47PM

    @eyeopener...that shows a huntsman in DAYLIGHT.....your point being? Hunts usually take place during the daylight hours. Actually I should think that the photo showing the fox was pre-foxhunting ban.

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  • eyeopener  |  November 15 2012, 4:28PM

    "eyeopener.....you obviously have little knowledge about hunts. The gentleman in hunting pinks would not do the shooting, they have special markspeople to do that." I was being rhetorical to make the point that the fox was killed by a hunt and that it was unlikely to have been shot. This is what the Master of Foxhounds Association have to say: 1.Shooting with rifles. It needs a high calibre rifle (i.e. over .22) used by a skilled marksman in ideal conditions. It is vital that the fox is visually identified as the target species; is stationary; that the marksman has sufficient time to take proper aim; and that he has an unobstructed view of the fox. It is only practical for large scale control when carried out at night from a vehicle (hence vehicular access is necessary) with a lamp and whistle to "call up" foxes, but foxes soon become lamp shy. "At night" means anti-social hours, involving more than one person. Fox Control in the Countryside (GCT 2000) suggests a strike rate of "0.2 to 0.6 foxes per hour" which with 2 men equates up to 10 man hours per kill. Suitability is limited because it cannot be used, even in many rural areas, due to the danger from stray bullets and ricochets (a high velocity bullet can kill at up to 3 miles). The dangers, whether on open moorland or where people, animals, cars or buildings may be concealed from view, are obvious. A clean kill can never be guaranteed, even by a skilled marksman. Not all who use this method are skilled marksmen, and when unskilled marksmen use rifles, the risk of wounding is high. Skilled marksmen would have to be trained and paid for if other control methods are banned or restricted. When wounding does occur, it can be assumed that the fox’s suffering is prolonged and intense, even if it recovers but the more so if it dies from its wounds or starvation." That photograph showed a huntsman in the DAYLIGHT.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 15 2012, 4:15PM

    ps They do start the hunts as drag hunting. However as hounds are natural predators, if they pick up the scent of a fox (or deer) they will chase it. Even if you were to take your springer spaniel/s out walking, off the lead, and they are not trained, they will pack onto anything moving, that goes for newborn calves, lambs, pheasants basically anything that moves. This is why dogs are best on leads.

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