This Boxing Day, hunts will gather to parade in villages across England and Wales for the traditional Boxing Day meet. But this year there will be a new atmosphere - a wind of change. A few months ago there was an attempt by Cameron and his merry men to undermine the Hunting Act with a ‘Statutory Instrument’. It would have reopened the door to full scale blood hunting but it was foiled, not just by Cameron’s political opponents, but also by a courageous band of Tory MP’s who refused to be bullied into supporting an act of Parliament which would take away the protection of our wildlife from cruelty.
Dr Brian May at the Three Counties Bloodhounds Wales
This week has seen the social media bullying of anti-cruelty Tory MP Tracy Crouch by some of the increasingly frustrated remnants of the ‘old school’ hunting fraternity - the Countryside Alliance. What these people have failed to realise is that the more repugnant and aggressive their behaviour becomes, the more the public and MPs become resolved to stamp out the brutality of this small but vociferous element of society.
Tracey Crouch MP, who is our Minister of Sport told us:
"Foxhunting is a pursuit from the past and, like the overwhelming majority of the population, I believe that is where it should stay, consigned to history. I think that the legislation as it stands today is a compromise, albeit one that requires better enforcement, and parliament has better things to be concerned with than bringing back hunting foxes with hounds"
The Countryside Alliance recently said that 80% of registered hunts have held on to their support since the introduction of the Hunting Act. We are now 11 years on from the Hunting Act 2004 and whilst the numbers of people who are against the cruel sport of fox hunting continue to grow, the increased interest in hunting is being driven by the public who are embracing the humane sports of drag and clean boot hunting, providing further proof that people enjoy riding in the countryside but do not want to see foxes attacked in such a slow and painful way.
Many families enjoy riding horses but will not expose their children to the horrors of fox hunting. With clean boot or drag hunting, children can follow the hunts safe in the knowledge that no animal will be tortured or killed.
83% of the population is against the sadistic ‘sport’ of fox hunting, and this is consistent for urban and rural populations (Source: League Against Cruel Sports, Ipsos-Mori Poll 2015). The current Countryside Alliance press release states that 91% of registered hunts continue to hunt the same or more days than they did pre-ban and that 85% of them retain the same, or have more hounds than pre-ban. This only demonstrates once again that people enjoy vigorous riding in the countryside and the traditional trappings of the hunt, but they DO NOT condone the killing of foxes and other wild mammals.
There are some hunting organisations among the so-called ’Trail Hunts’ which act illegally and continue to flout the law. In the coming weeks, Team Fox will be publishing a full list of these hunts, providing the information that people need so they can avoid the illegal 'blood hunters’. Surely, no hunt supporter wants to break the law as they too are complicit.
The British public will come out in numbers on Boxing Day to see the local hunt parade, but some hunts are still missing the point. The British public enjoys the spectacle of the well-prepared horses and red-jacketed riders parading with the hounds. This shows support for the traditions of the hunt. But, now that the old claim that fox-hunting is a kind of ‘wildlife management’ has been shown to be bogus, very few now defend the killing of foxes with hounds. And in fact, contrary to the claims of the increasingly desperate Countryside Alliance, sources inside the Hunting Community are now admitting that support for the most notoriously cruel hunts has dwindled noticeably in the last few years.
Dr. Brian May, founder of the Save Me Trust, recently attended a “clean boot hunt” in Wales and saw first hand the use of bloodhounds, trained not on fox urine but on human scent. The bloodhound pack have been retrained - they do not kill foxes “accidentally”, because they have not been trained on fox scent and are not brutalised by the kennel master to attack foxes. In ‘clean-boot’ the hounds follow the scent of a running man, and are rewarded with praise and treats when they catch the runner.
This video shows our day at the Three Counties Clean Boot Hunt in Carmarthenshire. It's great to see these traditional sports reborn out of the hunting ban, and fantastic to see the overwhelming support these hunts are attracting now that the element of cruelty has been removed.
Dr. Brian May, founder of Save Me Trust said: “It’s clear now that the ban on Fox-Hunting is here to stay, and rightly so, of course. The British public, as represented by their currently elected MPs, will not tolerate a backward step into the old barbaric ways. So now, as a benefit of the Hunting Ban, we are seeing the best of traditional country activities reborn as a healthy and honest pursuit - a ‘sport' in the true sense of the word. Compassionate Riders are the future - men and women who enjoy developing their riding skills without the stain of blood on their hands."
Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust said: “It’s great to see this cross country sport moving away from the barbaric fox hunting. Much like clay pigeon shooting, people are turning to the humane alternatives. It’s inconceivable that we would of attended a hunt a few years ago. We have found that ex-fox hunters do not want the cruelty. One female long term supporter of fox hunting told us she was sickened when she watched a fox thrown to the hounds. We have evolved beyond savaging foxes with dogs. As a very primitive form of pest control, it has always been ineffective. This year, we saw the Conservative party have a record number of MP’s who now spoke out against fox hunting, who had previously supported the repeal. The overwhelming calls from the public during the recent attempt by Simon Hart MP to repeal the ban were deafening. Fox hunting, along with badger baiting, cock fighting and bear baiting, should remain in the past. Long live drag hunting."
To join the amazing Byron Johns (Master) on a Clean Boot Hunt click here - http://www.threecountiesbloodhounds.com
These are the next two meets:
26th December - SATURDAY BOXING DAY MEET - The Colliers Pontrhydyfen Efail Fach, Pontrhydyfen, Port Talbot, West Glamorgan SA12 9TY
1st January 2016 - FRIDAY NEW YEARS DAY MEET - Ye Old'e Wine House aka The Tap Pyle Rd, Bridgend, Pyle, South Wales CF33 6HR