Lame Claims

 

THERE IS NO EXCUSE for the continuation of fox hunting. The only argument for it that you can believe is sincere, from its supporters, is that they enjoy it. But they will put up all kinds of smoke screens – essentially bogus defences. This fox lovers' guide provides definitive answers to the hunters lame claims.

This is a fox lovers’ handbook designed to answer the lame claims of hunters who believe it’s acceptable to torture foxes to death. 

Fourteen of the hunt supporters’ best shots are detailed here, along with the answers which expose them as false. The file begins with the stock gripe about the Hunting Act 2004 which made it illegal to kill foxes, stags, hares, minks, etc. by running them down using packs of dogs.

Lame Claim 1: "It's a BAD law - Baa-aad! Unenforceable... confusing... we don't understand it.”

Answer: Read it more carefully! Improve it, tighten it up, monitor violations more rigorously, enforce it more diligently. If the law against child molestation was found to be unenforceable, what would we do? Repeal the law? I don’t think so!

Lame Claim 2: “It took up too much parliamentary time.”

Answer: No it didn’t. This law was introduced by proper parliamentary process - in accordance with the will of the majority of the British public who consider hunting with dogs barbaric and unacceptable. The public support this law as a flagship move towards better treatment of ALL animals - wild animals, farm animals, and laboratory animals. The fact that Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance boasts that the Tories could smash this law “in a day” is proof that these people care nothing for the will of the people. God help us all if they seize power. 

Lame Claim 3: "Foxes are vermin -  if we didn't hunt them we'd be overrun with them."

Answer: So... how come the hunts construct artificial earths to encourage the breeding of foxes? And when foxes become scarce in a particular area, the hunts reintroduce them? Hunt supporters have elsewhere actually claimed that if there were no fox hunting, foxes would have been extinct by now. Surely there must be more humane ways to save an endangered species? By the way, DEFRA defines which animals are classed as vermin in the UK. The fox is not among them. Foxes are NOT vermin. This is, in fact, a very old argument – only now heard from hunting advocates who have not kept up. 

Lame Claim 4: "We don't persecute foxes - we love them... we conserve them... we preserve a balance... we even 'ennoble' them by hunting them and we strengthen the breed by picking off the weakest."

Answer: Well make up your minds - just now they were "vermin" - pests - to be controlled. Now, suddenly, they are precious, and I bet they enjoy being 'ennobled' by being pursued and dismembered alive by dogs. Yes folks - if there were no foxes - the fox hunters would have no fun. So they make sure there are enough to hunt and if the numbers go down in a particular area, they import them. (Oh, by the way, if being hunted is good for the species... perhaps we'd better instigate the hunting of humans... it'll improve the strength of our species too... goody!) If we really want to get technical, my ecology advisor adds, “This whole ‘savannah’ theory of maintaining balance by removing predators only applies when those species have co-evolved together and are in fact in a delicate balance. We did not co-evolve predating foxes in this manner so this argument is ecologically unsound.”

Lame Claim 5: "It's traditional and traditions are good - they are our birthright."

Answer: Oh really? So the traditions of wife beating, bear baiting, slave whipping, burning of supposed witches, birching of schoolchildren (and so many more atrocities) were all traditions that ought to have been preserved... right?! Just because something has been done for years does not make it right. If traditions were always upheld, women would still not have a vote. Traditions my ass!

Lame Claim 6: “Foxes are vicious and cruel - haven't you seen what they do to a chicken coop if they get in? They kill all the birds for pleasure."

Answer: Not true - it's another bit of outdated propaganda. If a hungry animal suddenly finds food, it will eat it... just like we do... but the foxes kill extra chickens with the purpose of burying them for future use when the pickings are slim. Left to themselves they will come back and bury those chickens... but they are not completely stupid - if there is a farmer with a gun waiting to shoot him, Mr. Fox is not going to come back and collect the food supplies. Killing for pleasure?... make no mistake... there is only one animal that does this… MAN.

Lame Claim 7: "Foxes are dirty."

Answer: Nope - they're not... Our rescued foxes spend at least as much time grooming themselves as the average domestic cat; in fact they are very cat-like in many ways… This is something I never realised until I spent time with these delightful animals. They don’t cover up their poo, but neither do any of our domestic dogs. It’s not the end of the world and certainly not a good enough reason to persecute them.

Lame Claim 8: "It's NATURAL for men to hunt foxes - just like lions hunt antelope."

Answer: Well the flaw in this argument is blindingly obvious! Lions kill for food... but humans do not eat foxes. There is only one reason to hunt down and murder a fox... for fun... for 'sport'.  It's not in any way justifiable. It's barbaric and it's cruel - it's also clearly a crime as defined by the 1909 Cruelty to Animals Act. By the way, have we not noticed that it is NOT the hunters who manage to pull off this great 'sporting achievement' - it's the hounds? Pro-hunters claim that hunting and other blood sports are inevitable because of our biological make-up. To them, death and suffering are an unavoidable part of life and the foxes would die anyway. Fox hunting became popular in the 18th century. Before that, hunting hares, wild deer and wild boars were the main blood sports in Britain, but the extinction of the wild boars and the almost extinction of wild deer turned attention to foxes instead.

Lame Claim 9: "Ah well, yes - it's natural for DOGS to kill foxes." 

Answer: Rubbish - It is in no way natural! I've already published pictures of our local dogs playing with the rescued foxes along with deer and various birds. The fox is a natural delightfully gentle creature – timid and built for running. The average dog, when decently looked after, is also playful, gentle and peaceful. The only way to make dogs vicious and ready to tear apart foxes, stags, hares or even humans - is to brutalise them - half-starve them - deprive them of affection and house them in such wretched conditions that they go berserk when allowed out to run. The hunts test the hound puppies on fox cubs - It's the charming practice of 'cubbing', wherein, once the parent fox has been slaughtered, the tiny fox cubs are poked or dug out from their homes and forced into the path of the young hounds - already 'toughened up' and ready to mutilate. The young hounds eat the fox pups alive. If the young hounds are not vicious enough - the huntsmen shoot them. A nice piece of 'natural selection' designed to make the pack not only healthy but as vicious as possible. Even leaving aside this abhorrent cruelty to foxes; in a decent society it ought to be illegal to raise a dog for the sole purpose of killing (in fact, as noted in LC 11 - currently it IS illegal to breed dogs for dogfighting)… Logically, we need to bring things into line… so that which is a law for the "yobs" is also a law for the "toffs" too. 

It’s interesting that perhaps the fox hunting community of people have been in a sense brutalised too,  brought up in a way that has desensitised them to the cruelty around them. Cubbing is described in an extract from Fox Hunting by the late Duke of Beaufort, Master of Fox Hounds, published by David & Charles 1980. He wrote: "Never lose sight of the fact that one really well-beaten cub killed fair and square is worth half a dozen fresh ones killed the moment they are found without hounds having to set themselves to the task. It is essential that hounds should have their blood up and learn to be savage with their fox before he is killed."

Lame Claim 10: “By hunting we eliminate the weakest animals, so we strengthen the species. The foxes are either killed or get away if they are strong. Just like in Africa.”

Answer: Good try. But this is just another sly (yes - it’s the humans who are sly – not the dear old foxes) attempt to bend the truth. In fact, the appallingly cruel methods used in the hunt ensure that the chances of survival for a fox, in no way depend on its natural strength. Foxes are routinely imported; kept in bags so they are weakened and disoriented before they are let out in front of a pack of hounds. And the truth is that the occasional fox who actually does manage to elude the dogs is usually ‘accounted for’ by digging out and being shot anyway. No one should be allowed to treat animals this way.

Lame Claim 11: "It's all about class! The middle and working classes are jealous of the toffs and want to deprive them of their rights - among them, the right to treat any animal on their land any way they see fit." 

Answer: Nonsense! It is nothing to do with class. Decent people are equally outraged if a young thug in Yorkshire goes out with his pit-bull terrier and encourages it to savage wild animals, or if a rich landowner in Berkshire goes out with HIS dogs and commits an atrocity on a fox, rabbit, or otter. None of this is about class - we care about animals. Brutal behaviour is brutal behaviour - there is no excuse!

Lame Claim 12: "You people who live in towns don't understand the ways of the countryside. Leave us alone and mind your own business!" 

Answer: This is a good one... so glib... so ALMOST convincing. The Countryside Alliance is very keen to tell the 'townie' politicians how to run the whole of Britain and has managed to make farming the most heavily subsidised industry in the land. Yet these same people deny the townspeople the right to protect animals in the countryside... as if ‘country people’ OWNED our wildlife? Imagine landowners insisting that if child-abuse happened on their land, nobody in town had the right to try to stop it. We'd all say… "These children might be on your land - but they still have rights. We reserve the right to monitor your behaviour and stop the cruelty where we find it." Yet the Countryside Alliance stalwarts would have us accept that wild animals straying onto their land legitimately become subject to their every whim. It's a vile conceit. 

Lame Claim 13: “You are taking away our human right to socialise in our traditional way.” 

Answer: Not at all. We absolutely defend your right to meet up on a crisp country morning, dressed up in pinks and scamper about on your horses. What we dispute is your right to trample everything in your path, endangering other people’s property, children, pets and livestock. And we dispute your right to kill animals for your pleasure in a hideously cruel manner. Drag hunting, with the hounds following a scent other than fox, gives you all the socialising you need and all the exercise; it has the huge advantage that the path of the hunt can be pre-planned, so that your neighbours are not threatened by invasion. If you refuse to accept this as a decent alternative it can only be that you need the thrill of killing and that you actually crave the feeling of wanton disregard for anyone around you… that feeling of superiority perhaps – “Lords of the Manor” and all that? It’s time to come into the 21st century.

Lame Claim 14: “If we are prevented from killing foxes using dogs, farmers have to control these pests by shooting them. Farmers are poor marksmen so many foxes die a lingering death from gunshot wounds - which is inhumane."

Answer: Inhumane? Excuse me?!!! Given the choice of being pursued until your muscles are paralysed and then ripped apart by hounds, or shot with a bullet, or the chance of an instant death, which would you choose? I put this question to the head of DEFRA (the Department of the Environment and Farming and Rural Affairs). He at least had the decency to say he wasn't entirely sure. But many of the Countryside Alliance propagandists continue to insist that being killed by hounds is a desirable option. Sorry, but... simply not believable! We always come back to the same conclusion... the only reason to be indulging in this filthy bloodsport is that you enjoy causing unnecessary pain to animals. Dogs and horses also die on hunts.

 

Attracting foxes

Feeding garden birds in your garden has several knock-on effects. If you are feeding and attracting garden birds, then you are also attracting their predators. In most cases that will be birds such as sparrow hawks, magpies and crows. All of these birds will pick smaller birds off your bird table or wait in the trees and bushes to ambush them as they leave. You are, in effect, supplying a restaurant surrounded by very shrewd muggers.

If you have a supply of food and water, then I can almost guarantee that you will be increasing the rat population. Most wildlife populations have troughs and booms reflecting the available food supply, and rats are wonderful exploiters of the human companion of attractive garden birds. They are also fast breeders. A pair of rats can become 2,000 rats in six months. We know that rat populations increase where people feed birds .

You will have squirrels if you feed birds. Don't waste your money on a squirrel-proof nut-feeder because they pretty much don't exist. The clever squirrel is one of the few mammals who studies his brother or sister and tries out a new strategy each time he’s cracking a new "squirrel-proof" feeder. You will have pigeons if you feed garden birds, since they are attracted by the food and will happily wander under a nut-feeder or bird-feeding station and pick up scraps. By feeding the bird you can increase their birth-rate and, therefore, the amount of fledglings that will fall from the nest and become naturally scavenged .

And, of course, last but not least, the fox, who will be attracted by all this activity, will pick up any left-over nuts and food on his nightly rounds, and scavenge falling fledglings and any low sleeping birds. 

If you have a problem with foxes you are probably doing something to encourage them. Do not feed anything in your garden.

Keep your pets and chickens secure

Foxes will kill an entire flock if they manage to get into a confined yet insecure run. The run will be just like a supermarket for our hungry fox. The clever fox will kill all the trapped birds, then come and collect them over the next few days to bury and store them. It’s how the clever foxes survive the winter. Foxes only come with paws and teeth, they don’t have drills or saws so surely you can outwit them and make your pet homes safe.

Pick up fallen fruit from your trees and bushes as foxes eat this too, and during late summer they eat lots of fruits as it forms a major part of their diet.

Do not provide foxy homes like dry spaces under your shed or decking, and make sure outbuildings are secure. The intelligent fox needs a home for his family and somewhere to rest. Don’t make it your home. 

Do not feed foxes

Foxes have an important role in nature, but by feeding them you are interfering with that role. If you feed them they will become dependant on you and numbers will increase. The food they eat naturally ensures their health and it is this we should be encouraging. Foxes do not overeat, so any excess food will be stored by the fox. The fox may be removing food from your garden but he is only moving it next door into lovely dug beds. He is unable to write a note to say, "leave this alone", so he will scent-mark his stored and buried food with poo so that other foxes know not to steal it. If you have an increase in digging and scenting then you are probably supplying the fox with food somewhere.

Cats and foxes 

We have no evidence of foxes attacking cats. Cats attack other cats, and cat kill cats. The diet of a fox is mainly worms, grubs and beetles and road kill. Foxes will carry off a cat killed on the road. In all video evidence we have, the cats always chase away the foxes.

Fox earths and digging in your garden

Vixens usually prepare several earths prior to giving birth. If she is disturbed from one, she will move her cubs to another. If you are experiencing digging but have no fox in the earth, yours may be one dug for an emergency. Get Off My Garden (see below) or Scoot (see below) around the entrance to the earth will encourage the fox to move. If you wish to fill in an earth, and to check there is no fox inside an earth, put hay over the entrance for three days to see if it is removed. Foxes only breed once a year but that time varies in different areas. The season can range from January to May. During this time a female can spend several days underground so please ensure your fox has moved on before filling any fox holes. As foxes forage for food they dig shallow holes or furrows. They are looking for worms, grubs and beetles; their favourite being the crane-fly larvae. Get Off My Garden granules (see below) can be used by squirting it liberally into each furrow and re-covering.

Damage to your garden is caused in several ways. 

During cub season, plants can be trampled by cubs tumbling and playing just like puppies. They will sometimes pull and drag the plants out of pots and have such fun. Unfortunately, when they return the following night at their playtime, they will do the same and will not be respectful of the fact that you have spent the day clearing away the mess. They are just like puppies with a favourite toy and game. Foxes live for fourteen years in captivity but rarely make their second birthday in the wild. As you can see, this makes for a playful fox. The cubs will not go far from home, and so this can happen for up to three months before the cubs disperse - usually in August and September. At this time they are noisy. As they look for new homes, around 75% of all cubs will be killed on roads or by infection from a wound.

Newly-dug soil is very attractive to foxes as it is good digging soil. Foxes are very playful and, like some dogs, just love digging. Foxes store food and this is how they have survived. They bury food in the ground to store it. If you use animal based fertilizers or bone meal, foxes will think there is food buried in the soil and so digging can increase. You can change the type of fertilizer you use or use deterrents such as Get Off My Garden (see below) around the plants.

On lawns, the use of Scoot (see below) will have the same effect. Wash off (see below) and Get off (see below) is better for hard surfaces. 

Fox mess

Foxes are territorial but, unlike us, do not have land registry or fences to define their space. They mark their territory with their scent. This is a warning to other foxes that this home is taken. They do not bury the poo for this reason. They will often mark in open ground to show this clearly.

Squirting Get Off My Garden (see below) on, or next to, the fouling will usually break this habit by fooling the fox into thinking that a more dominant creature is in that territory. 

To prevent the fox returning, remove all faeces each day and re-scent until you have regained your space. You may find when you first use these artificial scents that the fouling increases but, with persistence, it will decrease. You are simply having your own mini turf war. The fox is trying to intimidate you with his scent, so just keep playing the game and you will win.

Mother nature has roles for all our wildlife. Please don’t interfere with her wherever possible. Mother really does know best.

FOX