In fact my opposition to fox hunting and other cruel practices is informed by evidence and not in any way inspired by a Disneyland view of nature that overlooks the harsh reality of the countryside or the ecological balancing acts required to prevent any one species of flora or fauna from posing a significant threat to others.
Snaring is both extremely cruel and indiscriminate. An animal may linger for long periods and a die a slow, agonising death when snared and unintended victims include cats, dogs, and hedgehogs that become entangled in them.
Fox hunting with hounds is not a viable means of pest control. To suggest that chasing a fox for miles across country until it either escapes or is eviscerated by the hounds is clearly nonsensical. Hunts, when pressed to defend their activity on animal welfare grounds, will swear that most hunted foxes don’t get caught. Then they come along and claim that they control the fox population.
These claims are contradictory. Imagine a packet of rat bait that carried a notice stating: “90% of rodents will NOT be affected by this product”?
Far from keeping down fox numbers, hunts will often introduce foxes into areas they have become scarce, to ensure a continuation of their “sport”. This is the antithesis of pest control.
The sole purpose of fox hunting is recreation, which is why I would argue that the essential appeal of the activity (to reasonable people) could be preserved via a switch to drag hunting, in which an artificial trail is laid for the hounds to follow and no animal is harmed. The hunters and hunt followers could still enjoy the thrill of the chase and the celebrations in the pubs and hotels afterwards, and they could cry “Tally-ho” as loudly as they wished in their pursuit of harmless fun, as distinct from a live quarry.
Drag hunting has the additional advantage that it avoids encroachment on lands declared off-limits to hunting. Here in the republic we have a huge problem with hunts rampaging through farms, knocking fencing, ripping up fields of crops, and scattering livestock in the process.
Oscar Wilde described foxhunting as “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable”. Drag hunting, by contrast, could be defined as “the sporting in full pursuit of the un-catchable!”
(Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports)