The redoubtable Clarissa Dixon Wright recently Tweeted calling for donors to boycott the RSPCA. I endorsed her call, and for good measure I extended it to the RSPB (which has campaigned in favour of wind farms, which kill millions of birds a year, while reinforcing scare stories about shale gas, which doesn’t kill birds).
I do want to make it clear, however, that I have great respect for the dozens of RSPCA inspectors up and down the country who conscientiously pursue their traditional rôle of identifying and resolving genuine cases of animal cruelty and neglect. They all deserve our support. But sadly, it is impossible to subscribe to the RSPCA to support that work without also funding the RSPCA’s tendentious political campaigns against country sports, and its officious and vindictive prosecutions of hunt servants.
I was astonished to read a Press headline today (Aug 23rd) “Attacks on RSPCA are vile, says May”. This seemed to be strong language for the Home Secretary, so I was relieved to find it was not about Theresa May, but Brian May, described as a pop star, and (bizarrely, you may think) also an RSPCA Vice-President. He insists that attacking the RSPCA is “as bad as attacking the NSPCC”. He says that the only difference is that in the case of the RSPCA “the creatures involved are non-human”.
No Brian, you’re missing a point. The NSPCC is actually doing some good. The RSPCA, on the other hand, blinded by dogma and ideology and political correctness, is opposing fox-hunting, which is the most humane method known to man for managing fox populations. Those who have been brought up on the propaganda of the “animal rights” movement may find this a surprising proposition, so let me make the case.
First, hunting is the only culling method that mimics natural predation, and therefore contributes to the fitness (in the Darwinian sense) of the whole fox population. It preferentially takes out old, weak or sick animals, and leaves the strong and healthy to survive and breed. And predation, of course, is entirely natural and applies to the great majority of species in existence. Foxes do it too. Not even the RSPCA can stop it.
Secondly, hunting is the only culling method that never leaves an injured fox to suffer. The hunted fox either gets clean away, unharmed, or it dies in a few seconds in a rush of adrenalin. All other methods, legal and illegal, can potentially leave a fox to suffer for hours or days.
Imagine we could offer a fox the choice — to go out in seconds in the heat of the chase. Or to be injured, perhaps winged by a bullet, to lie in a ditch for days, hungry, terrified and in pain, perhaps as gangrene sets in, and as crows and magpies gather to peck out the eyes while the fox is still breathing. I know which I’d choose. As I have written before, there are no hospices for foxes. And no pain relief.
The RSPCA also refuses to countenance the enormous benefits that hunting offers to the countryside, the landscape, the environment, and to rural life and the rural economy.
Sadly there seems to be no way to support the traditional work of the RSPCA without also supporting its political posturing. But as another Tweeter replied to me, my strictures generally do not apply to local animal rescue and re-homing centres. Personally I have had several rescue greyhounds, and I contribute in a small way to the Retired Greyhound Trust, where I believe donations are used for purposes we can all support.