A fox hunting




158. Both Agricultural Departments have, during and since the war, encouraged the formation of fox destruction societies, or clubs, especially in places where there are large areas of unenclosed land and also where Hunts do not operate. Members of these societies usually contribute to a fund from which payments are made for every fox killed, and in England and Wales the Ministry of Agriculture encourage these Societies by paying an amount equal to that paid by the society on each fox killed, up to a maximum of 7s. 6d. The usual method of killing foxes adopted by the societies is shooting, but other methods are also used where they are appropriate.

  • Shooting

159.Shooting, either by individuals or in organised "drives", is the principal method of control other than hunting. It is sometimes used in conjunction with hunting, but this generally occurs only where hounds are followed on foot, as in certain parts of Wales and the Lake District.

160. Shooting by keepers and others helps to keep the numbers down, and it is usually sufficiently effective for farmers who want to get rid of an occasional fox on their land. It is also used by the Forestry Commission and by others who are responsible for large areas of woodland because drives cannot easily be organised in forests and plantations.

161. Drives are organised by County Agricultural Executive Committees and fox destruction societies, and occasionally by a number of farmers acting together in areas where foxes have become too numerous. The information we have received indicates that drives are not organised in all parts of the country, that they are held infrequently and that the number of foxes killed varies considerably but, outside Wales, is generally small. The reasons for this are that the number of people with guns taking part is often too great to be effective, and that many of them are poor shots. This does, of course, increase the danger to those taking part in drives, and it has been suggested to us that drives would be more effective if they were limited to small numbers of guns, with dogs. We think that this view is correct, and that smaller numbers of people with guns, who have been carefully selected and placed, would make for greater destruction of foxes as well as a reduction in the amount of suffering caused. We think that those responsible for the organisation of fox drives should consider this question very carefully.

162. We have already discussed the principal objections to shooting as a method of control, and these apply to foxes in the same way as to other animals. We think that the likelihood of suffering being caused to a fox is probably greater than in the cases of some animals because of its size. People accustomed to shooting smaller animals and birds often shoot at foxes at far too great a range and with unsuitable ammunition. There is, however, no scientific evidence to support the commonly held view that wounds suffered by foxes are more likely to become gangrenous than similar wounds suffered by other animals. It is significant that the R.S.P.C.A. consider that the cruelty involved in shooting foxes is such as to make it an unsatisfactory substitute for hunting, and that they would therefore prefer hunting (to which they are naturally opposed on ethical grounds) to continue if its abolition were likely to lead to an increase in the amount of shooting. This view is not, however, shared by the abolitionist organisations.

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