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Barbaric ritualised bloodsport carried out until recently by a few warped arrogant fools in the United Kingdom, which has finally been made illegal (in this country at least). Here I will dismantle some of the illogical arguments that the simple-minded perverts that used to partake in this hobby continue to use to defend their "sport":

Fox hunters are a persecuted minority! Ludicrous as it may seem, some of the vermin in the Countryside Alliance try to peddle this argument. These people hunted foxes by their own volition, and have lost nothing now that their family torture outings have been banned.

The government should concentrate on bigger issues ...While your 'hobby' continued to go un-noticed? I'm sure that drug smugglers and paedophiles share this view. Legislation isn't designed only to tackle issues of a given scale - it is the duty of the government to address all issues no matter how small that are in its power to be rectified. The cost of abolishing this sick practice in perpetuity is irrelevant - it should be done.

This is just Labour playing on class divisions This is the sort of answer that the Tories give when questioned about hunting. In my view, it should be possible for members of any 'class' to recognise that torturing and killing an animal for entertainment is cruel and pointless. This argument has not even an iota of merit to it, and will not be discussed further here.

Additionally: This issue is being used for political capital! Obviously this is nonsense. The number of people who would consider fox-hunting an important enough issue to sway their vote (as in, more important than any other issue in political life today, i.e. ALF nuts) is tiny. The minority who object to the ban will always vote Tory anyway.

Banning hunting would lead to job losses This would be true, just as the banning of bear baiting, or the abolition of slavery, probably led to job losses. The last time I checked, there was no reason that someone who has worked as a farrier or dog breeder all his life cannot find work doing something else. It is not genetically predetermined that they must do that job. And I am sure that compensation could be arranged for those whose source of income was affected, if only those gutless shits could bring themselves to negotiate.

It's necessary to control fox populations If you honestly believe that natural predators factor into modern farming methods, or that the huntsmens' actions have any interest in preserving the ecology of the English countryside, you must be pretty naive.

The fox has a quick death This is both false and inconsequential. There are countless documented instances of foxes meeting their end in unbelievably cruel ways. (The fox being torn apart by dogs is just the last of a bloodthirsty sequence of events that no reasonably intelligent person would want to have anything to do with.) The entire practice of foxhunting is steeped in bloodlust (witness sickening customs such as blooding) - which is why the pathetic deviants who participate in it will not settle for drag hunting instead.

Nature's cruel - so why not allow hunting? Correct, nature is cruel. But the thing that supposedly seperates civilised man from animals in the ability to overcome our base instincts. Still, obviously some people have trouble doing this.

Banning hunting curtails people's liberties (suggested by WyldWynd) ... Again, so does banning bear-baiting, dog-fighting and cock-fighting. And having laws preventing some forms of animal cruelty (even - gasp! - in farming). However, this argument would also require the outlawing of fishing. So we have to identify differences between fox-hunting and fishing (which is the most popular sport in the UK with 2,000,000 regular participants). OK : Fishing is done for food as well as sport ; the enjoyment of fishing derives from the skill required and the long periods of relaxation involved, over the actual killing ; fishing can actually be practiced as a sport (e.g. bass fishing) and doesn't require killing (you can throw 'em back!) - comparatively, fox-hunting is skill-less and one-sided; you require a license to fish. There are more differences, but that's a start.

I think a point to be added is that fox-hunting is as much about attitude as it is about cruelty. Without contradicting the point on class above, we can observe that fox-hunting is based around killing - it glorifies killing. As quick as the hunters are to deny that they act cruelly or prolong the foxes' suffering, we cannot take their word for it that this is the case (especially with so much video evidence to the contrary). Look at the people opposing fox hunting - it's not just ALF nuts, but everyone from farmers to politicians to members of the public (both in the cities and in the countryside). It obviously crosses a line of what is considered to be acceptable behaviour in an industrialised nation.

More arguments will go here as they are found...

Hopefully, parliament will plump for a complete ban (and not Jack Straw's spineless compromise), making this all a historical curiosity. We can but hope.

(update) : The House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for a ban, however I expect they'll still find a pathetic way of wriggling out of it or dragging their feet, should a big enough cash incentive be offered.

(addendum, partially in response to tiefling): I fully agree that the only course of action against fox-hunting that should be taken is a legislative ban. "Direct action" demonstrations of this kind are harmful to the cause. Regarding the "compassion" and "social prejudice" arguments:

I'm not saying "look at the poor fox."
I'm not saying "look at those vicious toffs."

I'm saying : "Look at those vicious toffs chasing that poor fox. WHY?"

Fondue's write-up, while substantially accurate, is highly emotive. Mgriffithsuk's WU, now deleted, was essentially an ad hominem attack on the privileged classes, begging the question 'Would it be OK if performed by the proletariat or plebians instead of the patricians?

Other frequent arguments against banning fox-hunting:

It's part of the Spirit of the Countryside. As no such thing exists, and in any case the extinction of a certain species of canid could hardly be said to be an enhancement of the countryside, this argument is vacuous.

Farmers are in favour of it, and it's 'their' countryside. Similarly irrelevant - cruelty is cruelty.

The majority of people support it. Not demonstrably true, and not remotely relevant. Morals are not dictated by democratic principles.

There are also some mistaken arguments and actions taken against fox-hunting. A pack of beagles, including at least one needing veterinary attention, were recently kidnapped from a hunt kennel. This helps no-one. The argument that hunting is an activity of the privileged classes carries no weight save that of social prejudice. And too strong a degree of anthropomorphic sympathy with the fox is misplaced.
Rules of Foxhunting according to the MFHA (Masters of Foxhounds Association)

There are too many rules to outline them all. The following is a list of the Golden Rules.

  1. Foxhunting as a sport is the hunting of the fox (or coyote) in his wild and natural state with a pack of hounds. Nothing must be done which in any way compromises this rule. The MFHA have laid down detailed rules for Masters of Foxhounds to observe, the most important of which are:
    1. If, when a fox is run to ground, the decision is that the fox be killed, it must be humanely destroyed; (note this is normally decided to accord with the wishes of the landowner or tenant);
    2. When a hunted fox is run to ground there shall he no digging other than for the purpose of humanely destroying the fox;
    3. A fox which has had to he handled by a terrierman or his assistant must either be freed or humanely destroyed immediately; under no circumstances may it be hunted.
  2. Hunting flourishes entirely because of the goodwill of landowners and farmers. No one who goes hunting should do anything to jeopardise this goodwill. It should always be borne in mind that for much of any hunting day, you are a guest on someone else's land.
  3. Masters of Foxhounds or their appointed deputies are solely responsible for conducting the day's hunting and are bound by the strict rules and instructions of the MFHA.Their authority is absolute and their instructions must always be cheerfully obeyed.

Is fox hunting neccesary? Well foxes are a pest to livestock but is this a significant threat? Well according to the Farmers Union of Wales, "All counties in Wales have reported an increase in fox numbers and predation since the Hunting Authorities commenced their voluntary ban on 22 February 2001. The Union's County Branches are receiving an increasing number of calls from farmers concerned at the effects of a protracted ban on fox control during the autumn period.". This demonstrates that perhaps fox hunting does indeed have an effect on fox population and that this worries farmers. Other evidence points towards an intolerable increase in fox population during World War 2 when hunting was not a common pastime. It has been estimated that foxes are culled on an average of 88% of farms across mid Wales, the east Midlands and west Norfolk. The MFHA reports that they are responsible for a minimum of 21,000 fox kills per year in the United Kingdom.

What's so bad about foxes? Famers have various reasons to want a control on fox population. They prey on livestock and game, and spread diseases (foxes can spread parasites, and virii, but there is no evidence to support that they are significant spreaders). It is estimated that 2% of lambs are killed by foxes. The market price of a lamb is about £30 (1996). This percentage may or may not be a significant loss of money. The NFU has reported that some farmers lose 25% of pre-weaning pigs to foxes. It should be noted that rabbits are more of a pest than foxes.

Is fox hunting an effective method? It has been shown (in the sources below and elsewhere) that killing with dogs, "accounts for a substantial proportion of the numbers of foxes killed", however, shooting is a more efficient way to reduce fox populations. The contribution of traditional foxhunting (as a sport) is small compared to other techniques involving dogs. There are, however, regional differences in the effectiveness of culling techniques. Fox hunting in sheep-rearing upland areas may have significant effect.

Do the foxes suffer? - It is unknown. Chris Barnard, professor of animal behaviour and Jane Hurst, a behavioural ecologist have both put forward the theory that to the fox, being hunted is a normal and natural thing (the fox has no natural predators, it is argued, it does have a natural predator, man, which has hunted foxes for hundreds of years). The fox doesn't appear to anticipate its own death and so is not scared of it. So from this we can conclude that the fox may not suffer as a result of the chase (but either arguement is impossible to prove). As for the kill itself, it is reported to be quick. The fox is grabbed by a hound by its leg, and the next blow is often to the neck (The Phelps Report). The fox is usually dead instantly. The fox does get torn to peices, but it is dead before this fate occurs. The worst case scenario is a 10 second death. This is all speculation however, post-mortem reports have shown that both being torn apart, and neck breakage occur, no figures are available for this. It is clear that in the vast majority of cases the fox is killed within seconds. By saying "one can tell the foxes suffer, wouldn't you if a dozen dogs were chasing you?" is nothing but anthropomorphism. It is not scientific. It can be assumed, however, that the fox suffers during the last few seconds of the hunt.

What would be the effect, if fox hunting is banned? Not an easy thing to predict. It is clear that the great majority of land owners feel that it is necessary. If it was banned, however, there would be an increase in the number of shootings and snaring as a result of the percieved increase in fox numbers whether real or not. In some areas there would probably be an adverse increase in foxes.

The alternatives to hunting? Snaring and trapping are most certainly no less cruel than fox hunting, and is less discrimatory of its victim. The victim caught in the snare is trapped. Almost without exception, animals trapped and unable to move (especially by the neck) undergo a great deal of stress, and are open to attack by predators. "Lamping and shooting", seems to be the most humane way of culling foxes, the fox has a bright spotlight shone at it at night and is shot. Unfortunately this method is not always practical, especially in upland areas where vehicular access is limited. The use of shotguns in daylight is not a good method, the fox frequently survives, only to die later...foxes are not easy targets, they move fast and are small.

Basically it can be shown that there is a percieved need for fox culling. There are welfare concerns in all forms of culling, and there are only two forms that are both practical and effective, with lower welfare problems. Hunting with dogs and lamping and shooting. Where lamping and shooting are impossible, it is necessary to cull using dogs.

Report of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals"---- Cmd. 8266
Report of Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England & Wales
The Bateson and Harris Report
Report of a Review of Hunting with Hounds, Mr Richard Phelps, Professor W.R.Allan and Professor S R Harrop

A note on the sources. They are all either independant or pro fox hunting. We have anti foxhunting already covered in the above write ups.

Another Note: I've tried to avoid using my opinion in the above w/u where possible. This node already has subjective writeups, and I thought a few facts couldn't hurt it. All facts, and opinions come from the sources as listed (I may have missed some). If somebody wants to enjoy killing foxes that is up to them. There are no thought police here. The fact that some people enjoy watching animals die bothers me.

Webster_1913 seems to favour fox-hunting to fox hunting.

The recent ban on fox hunting in England and Wales is an ugly example of British party politics in action.

For nearly twenty years, up until 1997, Britain was governed by the Conservative party. This period coincided with the worldwide decline of socialism, forcing the opposition Labour party to rebrand themselves as "New Labour" with "Third Way" policies. The satirical TV show Spitting Image described them as "the sort of Conservative government you've always wanted". This shift, together with a charismatic leader, gave New Labour a landslide victory in the 1997 General Election.

By pursuing conservative policies, New Labour has made it difficult for the Conservatives to differentiate themselves to the electorate without appearing extremist. To date (pre-election 2005), this strategy has proven highly effective.

Of course, New Labour is in danger of disillusioning its leftist supporters. The war in Iraq was particularly damaging. Such people might abandon the party for the Liberal Democrats or Greens, or simply not bother voting.

Enter the fox hunting issue. Animal-rights campaigners have been seeking a ban since 1949, but no Conservative government would consider it. For New Labour, however, it makes a great deal of sense. Very few voters are directly affected, and most of those are rural Conservative-voting types anyway. Fox hunting, like any sport involving horses, is perceived as being very upper-class. A ban can therefore be used to win the support of urban animal-lovers and lefty class warriors.

The main motivation for the ban seems to be the traditional English Puritan distaste for other people enjoying themselves. It is most honest to see the ban as sending a message that "killing animals should always be work, not sport", and that "upper-class people should try to be more like the rest of us."

In common with many "Third Way" policies, the ban might not make too much difference in the real world. After the ban came into force, hunters were out again with their horses and dogs, hunting and killing foxes. It is not illegal, for example, to flush out the fox with dogs, then shoot it. The police don't have the resources to follow hunts, although the presence of anti-hunt campaigners armed with video cameras may have some effect.

fondue says You're a fucking idiot. Cheers

Thousands join hunts despite ban
Research by the BBC News website in September showed that not a single registered hunt had disbanded since the legislation was passed.

Forenote: now that the law banning hunting with dogs has finally been passed, the eventual demise of the sport is virtually assured and any further discussion is largely academic. That is indeed the reason that I am noding something on the subject; it is a rarity with me in being a topic on which I prefer not to enter into heated debates. So, if my opinions rile and enrage you, please do me the favour of curbing any desires you might have to send me irate messages, and instead use the downvote button, as God intended.

I neither hunt, nor ride, nor ever have. I am a city dweller from birth, and foreign to boot, and have no first hand experience of the issues involved in hunting, fishing or any other country sport. Unlike others who have expressed strong opinions on this subject, however, both above and elsewhere (two of whom I just happen to know are granted expert insight into the argument by being residents of the well-known rural parish of Central London), all my opinions are based on conversations and personal acquaintance with real live country people (almost exclusively farmers and their descendants).

A Small Aside: Never having met an actual toff, I couldn't tell you whether or not they consider thundering across the countriside and surveying it from a lofty vantage point quaintly measured in hands part of their ancestral priviledges. Judging from my personal experience alone, I find the whole "class war" argument bewildering in the extreme. Equestrian sports and country living go together by necessity, as it is that much harder to have access to a horse and the many facilities it requires while living in a big city. Aside from owners of thatched second homes and retired merchant bankers, the English countriside is quite full of perfectly ordinary people, many of whom ride, and some of whom hunt. Hunting can be a costly hobby, but not more so than, say, skiing, surfing or diving. Many oligarchs and aristocrats I am certain engage in these other sports, but still they manage not to acquire any upper class stigma.

As a newcomer to this country the controversy over fox hunting burst in and found me in a virginal state of ignorance and some amusement that such a minor issue can excite so much passion. In tragically news glutted Israel a like topic would be lucky to get a spot on the human interest section of the lunchtime news edition. Still, being something of a current events addict, I listened and learned and tried to come to a conclusion about the whole sorry mess. And sorry it is, because both sides have contributed to it being so mired in emotion, so muddles as to facts, that it is almost impossible to form an objective opinion about it. Indeed forming an objective opinion is not what any of this is about.

Let's get a few things clear from the start: the moral infrastructure of human civilisation is not placed in danger by allowing hunting, nor is the age old country way of life seriously jeopardised by banning it (although in fairness country folk have more to lose from the ban than city folk have to gain, a cogent point which curiously I have never seen raised). So this is not at all about where hunting stands on the spectrum of value from absolutely vital to abominably and immoraly profligate. It's all about the fact that a large segment of a given society, at a given time, but for non-specific or badly defined reasons, find a certain human pastime abhorrent.

Examples of a like situations are all too easy to come by. The first and most obvious (though not perhaps the most analogous) is Prohibition. It was passed, as all amendments to the US constitution must be, with a huge majority, and was widely supported by the population. In time, and due to all sorts of complicated things we shall not go into, the tide of popular and political opinion changed, and it had to be repealed. Red faces all round and all that. Oscar Wilde famously said that hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible; perhaps those who choose to quote this quip in support of the ban on hunting should reflect upon the no less universally acknowledged truth that the only thing worse than being talked about is spending two years in Reading nick for buggery. Which he did, of course, while his contemporary Charles Dodgson was left quite unmolested (no pun intended) in his pursuit of the pre-pubescent Liddel sisters (whom he enjoyed, erm, photographing, apparently). I don't need to tell you which one of them would be doing hard time these days, but it shoud perhaps be pointed out that the difference in their fates then and now would be due to specific legislation which arose from popular movements: the de-criminalisation of homosexuality and the protection of child prostitutes (which then led to wider child protection reforms) were both grass roots movements much like hunt sabotage.

And this brings me to the gist of my argument. Morality and public opinion are equally mutable, despite each generation's protestations to the contrary. Unlike intoxication or homosexuality, however, and too sadly like poor old Butch Oscar, hunting can not be brought back once it is finally banished. The skills will be gone, the hounds and horses will not be bred for it anymore, it will simply vanish. A long standing if controversial British tradition completely eradicated, all for a Puritanical whim of public opinion. And, of course, some will say good riddance.

But the banning of hunting is not very likely to be compared by history to the abolition of slavery, as some anti-hunt arguments so pompously suggest. On the contrary, it is the direct ideological descendant of the spirit of so called modernisation; of the transport system and many English town centres, undertaken in a progressive spirit but now widely viewed as a barren, indeed malevolent desecration of the past in order to make way for an inferior, but agressive, notion of future. We are currently paying a huge price (in taxes) for the decomissioning of so many railway lines. There is an even bigger expenditure on town centers that are being modelled and remodelled by bewildered local councils trying to re-invent the wheel, having lost the historically successful urban layouts of the past. It is not yet clear what the price for further encroachments on the countryside will be, but somehow the piper will have to be paid.

Of course most city dwellers will not feel the pinch of doing away with hunting, and of course secretly they are not at all averse to having others mortified in order to raise the general moral tone of society, exculpating the British public at large of their sins by offering a marginal sub-group as sacrifice. Slavery? No. Witch-hunts.

In Amateur Radio circles, the term fox hunting refers to hunting down the location of a hidden radio transmitter. Not nearly as bloody as the pastime of the British upper crust, it can be as much fun for the fox as it is for the hunters. Basically, what is involved is a person (the fox) transmits a signal on an amateur radio frequency, following FCC guidelines, and a group of amateur radio operators try to determine the fox's location, either in a cooperative or competitive manner. Usually foxhunts are done on either the 2 meter band on VHF or 70 centimeter band on UHF, but foxhunts can be held on other frequencies as well. A foxhunt is a good way to hone skills which can be applied to more serious real world situations, such as tracking down radio interference, or finding someone who is lost or in distress.

Rules for the Fox:

The fox is allowed, and even encouraged to be crafty in order to frustrate those looking for him, but he must obey 2 sets of rules:

#1. He must abide by all FCC rules regarding amateur radio operation.

#2. He must agree on the ground rules set forth for the hunt. This usually means he must stay in one location he selects in a public place within a restricted geographic area, such as a county or township, and cannot move once he is in place. He will transmit on an agreed frequency at a certain minimum interval. Depending on the rules, the fox may or may not be allowed to use directional antennas, and his signal must be receivable at the starting point of the hunt. Often the agreed frequency will be on the input of a local repeater, which will let the rest of the ham community in the area listen in.

Strategies for the Fox

Within the rules, it is the fox's duty to make it less than easy for the hunters to track him down. It all comes down to concealment, camoflage, and craftiness. A fox carrying a handheld transceiver sitting on the bench at a little league game with dozens of people around will be a lot harder to spot than an SUV with Ham Plates and a roof bristling with antennas along a road, particularly if most of the participants know the fox and his vehicle. A crafty fox who normally drives his red Ford Bronco with a roof full of antennas to club outings might want to borrow his wife's Toyota Corolla, or ride his motorcycle instead.

Terrain can also help with concealment, hills, gullies, and urban areas can cause signals to reflect in unpredictable and confusing ways. Setting up on the opposite side of a stream or river from the direction the hunters will come can also pay rewards for the sneaky fox. I have seen crafty foxes keep hordes of hunters at bay for hours, as they stumble through the woods just yards from the fox.

Strategies for the Hunters

The job of hunting down the fox is accomplished by progressively narrowing down the area he is transmitting from. A good hunter needs to have the proper tools, and the knowledge to use them. To narrow down the location of the Fox, the hunter uses a directional antenna to get a bearing on the fox's transmitter. Small yagi and quad antennas are good choices for getting a bearing on the Fox. Once the direction is determined, a line is drawn on a map from that point on the map in the direction of the signal. The hunter then drives toward the direction of the signal, then takes another bearing, and draws a line from his new location in the direction of the signal. With 2 or more bearings taken from different location, the fox's location should start to narrow down quickly, but folks, it ain't all that easy. GPS, a good compass, and accurate, detailed maps can help, but once you get within a mile or so, signal directions often start to become indefinite, as stronger signals swamp the receiver's ability to distinguish between strong and weak signals, and terrain plays a greater role.

Working in Close

Once the hunters enter a zone close to the transmitter where signals seem to be strong in all directions, it is necessary to change tactics. Instead of using a sensitive directional antenna to acquire a bearing on a signal, it is necessary to make the radio receiver a bit hard of hearing in order to distinguish between strong and stronger signals, rather than strong and weak signals. The best way to do this is with an attentuator inserted into the line between the antenna and receiver. An attentuator is merely a dummy load which shunts most of the signal through a resistor, and passes only a small signal to the receiver. Good attentuators can be switched for different levels of attentuation, some as much as 100 decibels. Hopefully this will get the hunter close enough to pick out a familiar face from a crowd, but sometimes even this is not enough. Sometimes, it is necessary to take the antenna off completely. You can then use your body to block the signal, and in this way narrow down the area even more. By this time you should be able to study the faces of nearby people, and look for telltale signs of a cornered fox.

The Aftermath:

Once the fox is found, the hunt may continue until some more hunters arrive. Eventually, the fox's lair will be made public, and everyone will retreat to an agreed on meeting place to swap stories of the hunt. At least in our area, the reward for finding the fox first earns the winner the "honor" of being the fox the next time around.

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