There are no Hospices for foxes


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.

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12 Responses to There are no Hospices for foxes

  1. frostyface says:

    I have to agree with you Roger, and there are more detractors following the publication of the amount of money the CEO’s are picking up for these Charities.

  2. Graham Brown says:

    Heaven’s above, Roger. Here am I, a UKIP member proud of the Party’s growing popularity, only to see that among the many former Tory supporters now aligned to the UKIP flag (myself included), we have people with such a skewed perception about fox hunting.

    You are of course correct that the RSPCA does marvellous work. However, your support for them seems only to concern SOME animals. Because you apparently like to chase a small, defenseless mammal on horseback with a pack of dogs (a ridiculous a case of overkill, if you’ll pardon the pun) you think that the fox should be outwith the RSPCA’s remit to promote humane treatment and prosecute those who are cruel to them.

    Your unsupported assumption that the fox should be culled has been challenged in another post. And what about urban foxes? It appears that they are far more numerous and troublesome than in the countryside but I have heard nary a whisper from you or the Countryside Alliance on the need to cull them there. Could this be because hunts can’t have their fun chasing them on horseback through the streets of Peckham or Bolton, where the public would see the spectacle for what it really is?

    As for the efficiency of various culling methods, your argument in favour of hunting relies on comparing scenarios where the fox dies ‘in seconds’ versus a lingering death from a bullet wound. No mention of the terror of being chased, in fear of death, for hours in a cacophony of horns, braying riders and howling dogs to be finally cornered, exhausted, and die in a way foxes rarely do in nature nowadays.

    Anyone would think you are doing the fox a favour by hunting and killing it in this way, forfeiting lots of your hard-earned on expensive horses, packs of hounds and fancy uniforms in order to do so. In the countryside (though perhaps not in towns), natural pressures on food and habitat will limit the fox population without your kind assistance.

    I don’t expect my argument to make an impression on hunt devotees like yourself. However, I want to make clear to potential members, as well as our opponents, that UKIP is not full of ex-Tory ‘toffs’ who get their kicks from slaughtering foxes. The majority of UKIP members are thoughtful, humane and caring people much more interested in supporting sports that do not require violent death to satisfy the participants. Indeed, I suspect the majority support the RSPCA in prosecuting those that do.

    • Sorry Graham, but you’re deliberately missing the point. You assume that the RSPCA’s behavior benefits foxes, where as I have argued that it seriously harms them, and you have not challenged any point of my analysis. You are wrong on three other points. People who hunt may include “ex-Tory toffs”, but many hunt followers are modest folk who do extra spare time work to pay for winter feed for their horses. It’s a silly prejudice to assume that hunting is a class thing. It is an equally silly prejudice to suggest that people who hunt “get their kicks from slaughtering foxes”. Most are not even there for the kill. Third — your suggestion that natural pressures will limit fox populations is wrong, especially in country that is intensively farmed.

      By the way, I have never hunted myself (though I regularly attend the Boxing Day meet). My views are motivated by a proper understanding of animal behavior and animal welfare, and by an instinctive preference for freedom of moral choices over restrictive legislation. And by the way, foxes pursue and kill rabbits and other prey — how will you stop them doing so?

      • Graham Brown says:

        Roger, I’m sorry but your reply leaves me slightly disheartened. I am not ‘deliberately’ missing the point. Indeed, you have given no credible evidence that the RSPCA’s behaviour harms foxes and of course you fail to respond to my points about urban foxes. Rather, you sadly revert to the old class argument to try to dismiss rational debate. I have lived on Dartmoor for many years and am familiar with hunt practices here, including the many ‘modest folk’ involved. Your remark about foxes killing rabbits, etc is daft but are you seriously arguing that those who hunt foxes do so reluctantly and get no enjoyment from it? And your evidence that natural pressures will not limit rural fox populations is what, exactly? It appears from the extensive background bio on your website that you have no qualifications or experience to support your assertion that you have “a proper understanding of animal behavior and animal welfare” any more than me or the average bloke in the pub.

        I’m sure you’d agree that there have to be limitations on the freedom of moral choices for a democratic society to work. Clearly you support fox hunting, a moral choice you are free to make. However, as a politician your job requires an ability to engage in skilled debate. Claiming that those who don’t agree with you are silly, prejudiced or ill-informed is OK in the pub but as UKIP progresses to potentially play a major part in domestic politics, that approach will not wash with thinking voters.

        My reason for being slightly disheartened? While I will continue to read your excellent blogs with interest, regretfully it will be with slightly less confidence that your arguments are always soundly based and free of unwarranted prejudice.

  3. Mike Stallard says:

    I have never hunted and – let me be honest – horses terrify me. One kick and – straight o heaven!

    But, country people really do know about the country. Where I lived in Norfolk for ten years, they never hunted because they shot the foxes. They got up at night and found where they lived. They went for them with spades and terriers too. The general idea was to keep the numbers down. They kept chickens.

    “hungry, terrified and in pain, perhaps as gangrene sets in” – well, one of the most refreshing phrases which Darwin actually used – and he spent his life on this and it also cost him his cushy job as a parson – was “without fear”. Animals, he considered get killed in huge numbers. But they do not have the power of either remembering or thinking logically or fearing for the future. That, according to him, is entirely human. My daughter, a vet, reinforced this.

    Roger – UKIP is far too important an idea to get sidetracked into what is, after all, a country matter best left to the locals.

    • Unfortunately it’s not a country matter left to the locals — but a fine and ancient tradition banned by ignorant and politically correct MPs. In fact UKIP’s policy is precisely what you demand — that it should be “left to the locals” by means of local referenda. But I’m with Ghandi on this — I don’t believe that matters of individual conscience should be decided by majority vote, nor do I think that a broadly libertarian party should countenance the banning traditional activities.

  4. Chris says:

    The banning of fox hunting was a purely vindictive class warfare decision by Tony Blair and the Labour Party. There is nothing wrong with it and one day, it will be reinstated.

    The chief executive of the RSPCA, Gavin Grant, earns £160,000 a year and has a background in PR.

    “Police, RSPCA and firemen turn up mob-handed to seize vet, 70, over claim he was cruel to his dogs.”

    • Graham says:

      Roger also raised the old chestnut of class in a reply yesterday highlighting the many ‘modest folk’ involved in fox hunting. So, by banning it was Blair really having a go at ordinary people and not toffs? You both can’t be right so can you chat between yourselves and tell everyone what you think…is it a class issue or not?

      Whatever you decide, using dozens of people, herds of fine horses and packs of big powerful dogs to kill a small animal in the name of sport says a great deal about those involved.

  5. ex - Expat Colin says:

    I blame Walt Disney for most of this….get fed a load of that at the right age (or not?) and many will believe it.

  6. Following the disclosure in the Press of what money goes to a CEO and what actually goes to the Charity, made me resolve to only send a donation to the Salvation Army, and through their system, you can nominate exactly to which Country and for what Disaster, such as the recent Typhoon in the Philippines, and know that whatever you donate, it will ALL go to that Cause. Simples as they say in some Insurance Commercials?

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