Ever since the Hunting Act was passed by parliament in 2004, there have been grumblings of discontent from those who prior to the ban, readily engaged in and supported hunting. Notably, Tory MP's including former PM David Cameron who in 2015, saw his attempt to lift the act - which prohibits the hunting of any mammal species with the aid of dogs thwarted by the combined might of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
However, this was not the end of it and only this year Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom caused controversy when she promised a parliamentary debate on the subject.
A worrying prospect for those, like me, rather fond of the bushy tailed animal.
Fast forward a few months, and the legislation protecting our foxes remains mercifully intact and efforts to restore the cruel practice appear to have fallen flat. Little wonder given that 84% of the general public oppose a return to #Fox Hunting, including 73% of Tory voters. With no less than 55 conservative MP's recently joining the ranks of the anti-hunting Blue Fox movement and the vast majority of Labour MP's still opposed, it seems that Britain has lost its stomach for blood sports and it appears that Mrs. Leadsom has taken note.
There are many reasons for which one would oppose fox hunting despite what certain countryside factions would have you believe. For many, the issue is not simply about scoring a victory over the landed elite or an attempt by "townies" to influence the workings of the countryside.
For many, (myself included), it boils down to the simple fact that fox hunting is both inhumane and unnecessary. The practice standing as a relic of a time when flagrant barbarity was deemed acceptable.
Fox hunting is above all else, a cruel practice
Hunting, whether it is conducted under the pretense of fox control, or simply for personal amusement, is a markedly inhumane practice. The ethics of which played a large part in its eventual ban in 2004, the foxes unlucky enough to find themselves at the heart of their hunt often suffering an excruciating death. Dying in a needlessly brutal manner as they are eviscerated by the baying hounds who, through no fault of their own, seldom kill cleanly. And while this may not always be the case, with some foxes likely dying quickly, such things are simply unacceptable in the modern day, with animal rights now lodged firmly in the public consciousness.
All of this goes without mentioning the anguish inflicted upon the animals as they are chased, often for large periods of time by the pack.
With the issue of ethics also extending to the fox hounds themselves, with many often euthanised prematurely when their usefulness runs dry - something brought to light during the Burns enquiry established prior the the ban. Fox hunting, despite what the naysayers would have you believe, is a brutish practice, and this is the main reason that I personally oppose it.
It is wholly unnecessary in the present day
As a conservationist, I accept that from time to time foxes can make a nuisance of themselves, often to such an extent that they warrant control measures. They pilfer chicken coops, predate rare breeding birds and can pose a serious threat to economic interests - all of which, occasionally, leaves little choice but to remove them. This is something which many in the countryside believe should take place with the use of dogs, despite the wealth of more humane methods of fox control that exist today.
With shooting by trained professionals by far the quickest and most ethical way of doing this, those in the pro-hunting camp would have you believe that shooting is not humane and that many shooters may miss, thus subjecting the fox to a prolonged and painful death.
Well, to those people, I would simply say that if you own a gun, you should know how to use it efficiently. Or at least be prepared to front the cost of employing someone who does.