Home > cub hunting > Hunting Myths Pt 2 (of 8): They Only Go For The Sick Old & Weak

7th Dec 2018

Hunting Myths Pt 2 (of 8): They Only Go For The Sick Old & Weak

The cover of Horse & Hound magazine, 25 October 2018. Their strapline, circled in red, says it all.

OPINION: Zoologist Jordi Casamitjana writes exclusively for Hounds Off

PREVIOUSLY: Hunting Myths Part 1: The Snakeoil Salesman

Mr Barrington often repeats the classic claim that hunts only go for weak, diseased or old animals. This is completely untrue and there is no need to find any scientific research to prove it. We simply have to understand what hunting with hounds is and how it differs from shooting, lamping or snaring, which are other methods people use to kill wildlife.

Foxhunts, hare hunts, stag hunts and mink hunts use packs of hounds which locate a prey (“quarry”) and begin chasing it following its scent trail. Then, people on horse, motor vehicles or on foot follow the hounds through the countryside. This is the “fun” of the activity. The longer the chase, the better the hunting day. Weak or ill quarry animals would not run but hide as they don’t have the energy to flee, so there would not really be a chase if the hunts targeted those … and without a chase, there is no hunting.

The truth is that hounds do not “decide” to go for the weakest animals as they just follow a scent and have no idea of the condition of the animal they are chasing.  This is why the Hunting Act 2004 – that was meant to ban hunting in England and Wales – outlawed the chase of the wild mammal with dogs, not actually the killing. Indeed, it makes it an offence to “engage or participate in the pursuit of a wild mammal with dogs”.

Incidentally, the hounds have been selectively bred over generations to run slower than their quarry but with superior stamina. This is one way to deliberately prolong the hunt and provide good “sport”.

And as far as the claim of chasing “old” animals is concerned, it is important to realise that in autumn each foxhunt engages in cub hunting to train their hounds to kill foxes. They go to woods, copses, fields of standing crops and other places where they know there is a fox den, they surround them so they cannot escape, and then they send the pack of hounds in to kill them. These are “cubs”, not old foxes, and every year an estimated 10,000 fox cubs are hunted by the UK hunts, even now.

Despite the claim of doing “trail hunting” (actually just a cover for illegal hunting) the hunts still need to train their hounds to chase and kill foxes, and they can only do that with the secretive and clandestine activity of “cub hunting” (which they have re-named “autumn hunting”).

Part 3 of this series will be published here tomorrow.

© Jordi Casamitjana
Zoologist

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3 Comments | Leave a comment

  • Johanna Macmahon says:
    Posted Dec 08, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Thank you,well said.

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  • Alan Kirby says:
    Posted Dec 08, 2018 at 1:39 am

    When hunting was legal around 50% of fox kills by Hunts came after dig outs. Any fox will seek underground shelter if it can find it, it’s certainly not a characteristic of the old/sick. Old/sick wild animals tend not to survive very long in the wild anyway. You don’t see many foxes hobbling around on zimmer frames. The fittest are what the Hunts prefer to chase. Better ‘sport’. Hunts used to publish reports in newspapers [so we have advanced a bit] and they would go into rhapsodies over long ‘points’ – a point being a continuous chase. They’d estimate distances covered. The longest I can remember seeing was 11 miles, lasting around 90 minutes.

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  • Jacquie O'Shea says:
    Posted Dec 08, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Absolutely true !! Hunting has never stopped ,the hunt scum hide behind the fallacy of “trail” hunting …They get away with this due to the corrupt police turning a blind eye , it very rarely gets to court,and when and if it does the judges are usually sympathisers with the hunt scum,they are usually let off or given pathetic sentences.

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