If you asked most people involved in fox hunting why they do it – they’d say it’s an act of public service. Foxes are perceived as vermin or a danger to farmer’s sheep. But to anyone else, it is seen as cruel and callous.
Not to mention that there is little scientific evidence to suggest that fox hunting even works.
While the hunters consider it an act of human service, fox hunting is downright cruel and inhumane. Foxes are chased for hours to the point of exhaustion, after which they’re torn apart by hounds. And if the hunters don’t follow through with the kill, the event is enough to leave the animal with severe post-traumatic stress.
In many countries, parliaments have passed various acts that make fox hunting illegal. But why has fox hunting caused so much hullaballoo? We take a closer look at the ins and outs of fox hunting to give you a clear picture of why this “sport” is considered cruel.
The Fox Hunting Process
Fox hunting dates back to the 15 Century, England. Where people believe it stemmed from the more classic hare hunting. However, modern fox hunting as we know it took shape in 19 Century, when an 18-year-old Norfolk farmer, Hugo Meynell, attempted to catch a fox using his farm dogs.
Meynell started breeding hunting dogs for their keen sense of smell, stamina, and incredible speed. But the hunt didn’t become a sport until much later. It attracted fans from different countries, too, including George Washington.
However, the traditional uniforms and strict rituals of the sport all originate in the UK. The hunters suit up and follow a pack of trained dogs as they pick up foxes’ scent, chase them down, and kill them. In most cases, fox hunters follow the hounds on horses. However, it’s not uncommon to find hunters who go on foot, cars, and motorbikes.
One of the main differences of the sport is that the hunters’ goal is to chase the fox underground in the US. Whereas in the original British version, the hunt ends when the hounds have killed the animal.
Is Fox Hunting Considered Animal Cruelty?
If you’re not familiar with the tradition, fox hunting may seem somewhat bizarre the first time you witness it. The hunters wear costumes, and strict customs govern how everything should be done. From the way the food is served to how people are greeted, everything is done in order – it’s a thrilling experience that brings joy to everyone involved.
Besides, those involved in the hunt have no qualms about it because they see it as an act of public service. You see, foxes are deemed to be a danger to society and a great threat to farmers’ sheep. Therefore, eliminating this prey seems like the right thing to do. However, this depends on who you ask.
Some people are of the school of thought that fox hunting is an inhumane and cruel act. They believe that it’s unnecessary to chase down the animal for hours and leave it to be killed by the hounds. And even if the animal isn’t killed, the traumatic experience is enough to terrify the animal.
So, is fox hunting cruel?
Let’s take a look at some of the common myths that have popularized this sport to find out.
Myth #1: The Animal Doesn’t Feel Any Pain During the Kill
Most hunters believe fox hunting isn’t considered animal cruelty because the hounds are trained to kill instantly by nipping the back of the neck. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t need to be an expert to know that chasing down an animal to the point of exhaustion then killing it is cruel.
Besides, research shows that foxes don’t die from a single bite. Postmortem results show that the foxes die from multiple bites from the hounds. Furthermore, most of the foxes are disemboweled first.
Therefore, the animal is in excruciating pain to the point of its death.
Myth #2: Fox Hunting is an Act of Public Service
Fox hunters also justify the sport by claiming that they are protecting society by eliminating foxes.
However, there isn’t enough proof of this. Confirmed attacks on pets and people are extremely rare.
Besides, there’s no evidence that diseases and parasites carried by foxes pose any danger to humans or pets.
In addition to this, experts believe that foxes pose little danger to pets because they’re natural scavengers. This is one of the factors that prove that fox hunting may be unnecessary.
Myth #3: Hunting Controls Fox Population
It’s easy to understand why fox hunters would see their actions as beneficial in controlling the fox population. After all, if you kill several foxes here and there, you’re reducing their number, right?
Not really. There’s little scientific evidence to support the need to hunt down foxes to keep their numbers in check.
If anything, fox hunting increases the number of foxes in an area.
You see, for the hunters to have something to hunt, they leave out food to attract the foxes. This act of luring the animals only increases their population, which wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t draw the animals to the area in the first place.
Therefore, it seems like the hunters are creating a problem, then trying to fix it in a rather inhumane manner.
Myth #4: The Hunt Targets Sick, Old, and Weak Animals
There is no way for the hunters to target only sick, old, and weak animals. You see, the hounds are trained to sniff out fox scents. As a result, they’ll locate any fox they come across, whether it’s healthy or not. Therefore, there’s still no justification for this.
What’s more, cub foxes are not left unchanged. During the pre-hunting season, the cubs are the targets. They come in handy when the new hounds are being trained to kill. This goes to show that the entire fox population is fair game to the hunters.
Myth #5: Banning Fox Hunting Is Unfair Because It Would Affect People’s Livelihood
As the sport becomes more and more popular, people of all social classes are involved. Individuals in the lower-income bracket benefit the most because, in most countries, fox hunting pays.
Therefore, many hunters believe they should be allowed to hunt because it’s their way of making ends meet during the hunting season.
This goes to show how inhumane some hunters can be. The mere thought that it’s okay to hunt down innocent animals for money is barbaric. If the animal was a direct danger to someone, taking it down seems understandable, but killing an animal for money or sport is the true definition of animal cruelty.
Fox hunting is considered an unnecessary act and an extreme form of animal cruelty. As you can see, a lot of inhumane acts are involved in the process. The animals are chased down to the point of crippling exhaustion, and even when they’re far in the distance, that’s not enough.
The hunters train the hounds to chase the foxes down and kill them. And as much as they believe the kill happens instantly and pain-free, that’s not the case. And even if they don’t kill the animal, the trauma is stressful enough.
Some people do it solely for enjoyment and even for money, which further proves that the sport is inhumane. Besides, there isn’t enough evidence in the world to justify this as a practical or necessary sport.
The cases of animal attacks are few to warrant hunting, and there’s little evidence that the animals pose a real threat to humans and pets.
So, what’s your stance?