The Countryside Alliance disputes this compassionate act by claiming that they are confident that the hunt knew nothing about the cubs and the hunters are innocent of any crime. However, the League states on its website that the male in question is shown on the 2015 voters register at living at the hunt kennels, which are 200 metres away from the barn. The Middleton Foxhounds are registered as an incorporated non-limited business with a registered address of the kennels. (Incorporation date 1/1/2010). The company number is 4058254’.
The League Against Cruel Sports says the young foxes were captured for cruelty. The League claims that their video was part of an investigation on a tip off in May. The footage shows a shed fitted out to mimic a fox earth and the cubs were fed on dead chickens by an employee of the Middleton hunt. They had access to dirty water and were living in a drainpipe and an upturned milk churn. There were no adult foxes present although cubs of that age would have had both parents in the wild. This suggests they were forcibly removed. Sixteen cubs together like this also suggests they have been taken from more than one litter.
Dr Toni Shephard, Head of Policy and Research for the League Against Cruel Sports, said that the League had alerted the police who removed the foxes and arrested a hunt employee. The foxes, one of which died shortly after the rescue, are being kept at a secret location.
A statement from Dr Shephard on the League’s website says,
"This blows apart the argument that hunting is ‘wildlife management’. Why would people working for a hunt be keeping young foxes? The answer is simple but terrible – they capture foxes so there is always a ready supply of animals to be chased by the hunt. Put bluntly, these foxes were kidnapped for cruelty.”
She went on to say,
"We’re sure that there will be a denial that these captured foxes are linked to the local hunt, but the evidence is right there. The other footage, the intelligence we have received and testimony from people who have been involved in hunts all show that raising foxes to be hunted was, and still is, a common practice among hunts.”
This find makes a lie of the claim that hunting is essential fox control and that using dogs to regulate fox numbers is a vital service for farmers. A powerful and highly vocal minority are doing their best to convince the rest of us that repealing the hunting Act is a humane step forward to prevent foxes overpopulating and causing havoc in the UK countryside. However the League’s footage now blows apart that claim and anyone seeing the plight of those little animals can see plainly this is a despicable and totally fake argument for repeal. Fox hunting never did provide a service because foxes, like all predators, control their own numbers according to food supply and habitat. Most foxes only live to see a couple of birthdays in the wild, and out of a litter of four cubs it is likely only one will survive to adulthood. These facts negate another claim the hunters make that their hounds only kill the old and the sick thus ensuring a healthy population left alive. They say its good animal welfare and essential for the species as a whole. Fox hounds are bred for stamina over speed. If in the unlikely event there are any old foxes in the wild they won’t give the dogs or the riders a good run. Similarly a sick fox will be easily and quickly caught which is not much fun when you think of all the effort that went into pulling on one’s boots etc. and saddling up for the occasion, and in any case there is something decidedly unsavoury about chasing and eviscerating an old or sick animal.
It’s not the first time the Middleton hunt has been in the public eye. In August 2013 footage taken by anti-hunt monitors shows a terrified vixen hiding in a tower of hay bales as hunt staff use terriers and sticks to force her out. She manages to evade her tormentors for nearly half an hour but is eventually caught and thrown to the dogs. The film was turned over to the police and four members of the hunt were prosecuted. They were given a paltry fine. Tim Holt, from Leavening, North Yorks, was fined £200, Shaun Marles, of Titley, Herts, was fined £100, terrierman Lee Martin from Birdsall, North Yorks was also fined £100. All were told to pay a £20 surcharge and £85 costs.
So where does that leave the hunting issue? Hopefully the Government will be persuaded that the rest of us see through the ruse that fox hunting is essential country management. Even some of the hunters themselves admit it’s a sport. Pre ban there was no pretence that hunting was anything other than fun. Chris Ogilvy, ex MFH at Coniston hunt said on TVs Face the Public that hunting was for entertainment, and the morality of the sport was no one else’s business.
Edward Duke, currently Joint Master of the Middleton Foxhounds, is a former Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance. He is often reported as saying that banning "foxhunting" would not save the life of a single fox. He has said that ‘it is an inefficient way to control fox numbers’ and says that "we do it (foxhunting) for a bit of fun".
David Cameron has promised a free vote on repealing the hunting Act. It is vital that we contact our MPs and tell them we want them to vote against bringing back hunting in any form. Many Tory MPs are pro hunting but that is not a reason not to let them know how we feel. They are supposed to represent us; they were not elected to further their own interests or to promote the interests of their bloodthirsty chums.
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Country lover, amateur naturalist and fox lover fighting to preserve the ban on hunting
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