Foxes are like marmite, you either love them or hate them, however the two camps struggle to co-exist and have often provoked passionate debates about their place not only in the environment but also within society. I fall into the camp where having watched a television show where a fox cub endured the fright and terror of being captured in a cage for goodness knows how long, only to be faced by its tormentor before being brutally shot dead. How many foxes actually die quick deaths by the first bullet? All I have to say to the “hate” camp is hashtag have a heart.
I feel rather than killing everything that gets in your way, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that co-existence is necessary, it’s not an option. If bear baiting, dog fighting and other so called “sports” are universally accepted as cruel to animals, then why should fox hunting be any different? For civilisation to be civilised, then man’s development should be at least cost to the rest of nature and we should limit bull dozing our way across the landscape and slaughtering wildlife simply because it is inconvenient to accommodate them. To utilise the argument that fox hunting is a “tradition” amongst the rural community dating back to the 16th century is dependent upon perspective as British tradition too has evolved; The Sunday Church Service has been replaced by the Sunday shopping sales, cuisine such as the balti, vindaloo and korma have become national dishes, and fox hunting used to considered a means of pest control rather than a blood “sport”.
I would like to reiterate that these are my personal views and I speak for myself and no-one else, although I’d like to think there are many out there that would agree with me. I have indeed read articles found on the websites of organisations such as ‘The Countryside Alliance’, and whilst I respect their cause to preserve what little countryside we have left in Britain and the battle against building “faster” rail lines and big multinational corporations building concrete landscapes, I do have a problem with sweeping generalisations used to lead their campaigns as illustrated by an extract taken from their website;
‘The Hunting Act 2004 came into force at midnight on 17th February 2005. Our relentless campaigning has guaranteed that the Hunting Act is now widely acknowledged to be bad law. It is no accident that many political commentators, Chief Constables, senior civil servants and a majority of the public have taken this view. The Countryside Alliance has worked tirelessly to expose the law for what it is: hard to interpret and enforce illiberal, bad for animal welfare and a waste of police resources.’
Mass statements such as these lack substance as throwing in the word ‘senior’ or ‘chief’ next to a title doesn’t mean that their opinions matter more than the rest of us or even that they have more sway. They claim that they serve as a bastion to preserve all that is British, when in fact they only represent the well-heeled gentry. By hiding behind the guise that this is a moral argument, they instead like any cunning politician draw political divides between those that are powerful and those that are not. The mistake these organisations make is taking kindness for weakness. Brutality serves as a mask for insecurity and weakness, and I believe tolerance, compassion and kindness are much more signs of strength. In Britain we have the luxury of calling ourselves a developed country so should we not practice what we preach?
Animal welfare and conservation organisations such as the RSPCA have the right to save as many animal lives as they can with our support! Foxes and countryside wildlife are wild! They are not supposed to have human interaction, and we are imposing on their habitat and their homes. The Countryside Alliance claim to have worked tirelessly to expose the law, but their pursuit only represents private landowners’ financial interests rather than the general public’s access to rural pursuits.
In an article from The Times newspaper, dated the 2nd January, Dominic Kennedy, investigations editor writes, “The RSPCA has been accused of spurious and politically motivated prosecutions of hunt supporters after a study showed that four out of five attempts to prosecute hunts had failed, costing taxpayers at least £70,000.” 
This article follows allegations made by the RSPCA against the Heythrop hunt which covers areas in and around Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. I certainly have to question the validity of these findings. I ask myself, how many people were questioned? Which locations were targeted for research? What research techniques were used? How were people vetted during the study? Who was the research aimed at? How were questions worded? Was there even a distinct possibility that questions were leading or that people answered in accordance to what researchers required them to answer? Furthermore, may I suggest that it is the hunters themselves that are costing the tax payer £70,000 in taxes because for each time they go out in search of blood for the sake of sport or more accurately fun, we have to send out police officers to remind them that they are not the law abiding citizens that they claim to be.
It is well known that fox hunting has its roots in 16th century farming practices when it was used as a method of pest control. However, almost 600 years on, animal welfare and conservation has become a hot topic of discussion particularly in the west, with headlines such as the horse meat scandal dominating news bulletins, celebrities speaking out against the fur trade and Sainsbury’s supermarket finally selling eggs from cage free hens as part of their basic range. We and our views have evolved dramatically since ye old days. To call fox hunting a tradition is to hold on to a dated or even primitive way of living, before industrialisation, before technology, before a social welfare system, before the political state. As the Countryside Alliance have stated, “four out of five attempts to prosecute hunts had failed” demonstrating that their ideals are embedded in a struggle for power. Foxes are no threat to us as humans or to our way of life as we have all the tools at our disposal making us heads of the food chain. We do nevertheless; have a necessary obligation to protect these beautiful creatures as they are a necessary part of the landscape and the circle of life. I for one would rather look out of my window to an abundance of wildlife rather than a rural plain with no life.