I am a devotee of Inari Ōkami, the Shinto kami of rice and prosperity. Foxes are sacred to Inari; they are His messengers, and as such Her shrines typically feature fox statues and other fox images. Foxes are therefore very special to me. But aside from the personal, spiritual significance foxes have for me, I also feel it is my moral duty to help defend all creatures in my country from unnecessary cruelty, and our natural environment from wanton destruction. Which is why I am asking for help in sparing Britain’s wildlife from the barbarism that is fox hunting.
Fox hunting is a blood sport in which wild foxes are chased by dogs and men on horseback until they are captured and ripped apart by the dogs. It is a needlessly cruel, slow death: the fox is chased until exhaustion before it suffers an agonising death in the jaws of the dogs.
“There are those who have a moral objection to hunting and who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of people gaining pleasure from what they regard as the causing of unnecessary suffering. There are also those who perceive hunting as representing a divisive social class system. Others, as we note below, resent the hunt trespassing on their land, especially when they have been told they are not welcome. They worry about the welfare of the pets and animals and the difficulty of moving around the roads where they live on hunt days. Finally there are those who are concerned about damage to the countryside and other animals, particularly badgers and otters.”
For these reasons, the majority of people in Britain oppose fox hunting, including the oldest animal welfare charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. With the rise of opposition to fox hunting, the government (then the Labour Party) held a free vote on the issue in 2005, resulting in a nationwide ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs, including foxes.
But since the Conservative Party gained a majority in 2015, they have been attempting to repeal the ban on fox hunting. The Conservative Party has a lot of support from wealthy rural voters, who tend to be main demographic of fox hunters. It is likely that the Conservatives will increase their majority in the General Election on June 8th this year, and the Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she will hold a free vote among Members of Parliament on repealing the ban on hunting with dogs. She has also indicated that she is personally in favour of fox hunting.
It should be stressed that the ban on fox hunting does not mean that it is illegal to kill foxes under any circumstances. Farmers are still allowed to shoot foxes in order to protect their livestock – a method of controlling their numbers that is considered quicker and more humane than hunting with dogs, and it has none of the issues of causing environmental damage or trespassing on land associated with fox hunting. Most Brits would probably be sympathetic to farmers who need to defend their livestock and livelihoods. But the majority of British people, across all political hues, do oppose hunting foxes with dogs as sport – the last time I checked, nearly 70% according to YouGov. The ban on fox hunting is not only in the best interest of the foxes; it would also appear to be in the best interests of the majority of British people too.
This is where we need your help! Despite the lack of public support for fox hunting, there’s still a chance that the ban could be repealed in a free vote. Therefore, we need to make sure that our Members of Parliament are given a clear message that the public reject fox hunting. You can sign a petition here to register your support for the current fox hunting ban. Let’s see if we can reach 1 million signatures!
Finally, here are some organisations that you might want to get involved with that oppose fox hunting: