Hunting Foxes with Hounds Is a Natural 'Animal Interaction' Report Claims Hunts Are Best Way to Manage 'Appropriate Wild Mammals'

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Dube Farming Editor

A NEW report claiming that hunting with hounds is a natural way to manage wildlife was presented to a meeting of peers and MPs at the House of Lords last week.

The report is a detailed review of the scientific literature on the issue by Katie Colvile, a veterinary surgeon specialising in equine treatment.

Its main conclusion is that a pack of hounds chasing a fox is following a natural mechanism very similar to wolves chasing their prey.

Hunting itself is therefore a natural mechanism for wildlife management purposes and should be preferred, wherever possible, to other means.

But RSPCA spokeswoman Becky Hawkes question edwh ether there was a need to control foxes.

"Given that the fox population regulates itself, as it is a territorial animal, we would query the need for any method of control," she said.

"To suggest that purposely setting hounds on a fox is more natural than other methods of control seems rather incongruous.Other methods were legal when hunting was legal and shooting was the most prevalent method."

Last week's meeting was chaired by Baroness Golding, the former Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, who is joint chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Middle Way group, which backs the statutory regulation of fox hunting.

Also present was Lord Soulsby, who was a member of the Burns Committee on hunting, Baroness Byford a Shadow Minister for Food and Rural Affairs, and Montgomery shire MP Lembit Opik.

More than half of the scientific literature reviewed in Ms Colvile's report The Natural Chase was not available at the time of the Burns Report in June 2000 and she claims the resulting legislation banning hunting with hounds was therefore deficient in science-based argument.

Lembit Opik, co-chairman of the Middle Way Group described the document as a "well referenced document" and a contrast to the non-scientific prejudices expressed by opponents of hunting.

"Such opponents now need to provide reasons and evidence for not accepting this new report," he said. …