Fox hunting is apparently still a thing in the UK

I came across this article about a clash between supporters of fox hunting and protestors.

Police are investigating after a man appeared to use a dead fox to attack a vehicle containing anti-hunting activists.

As dozens of hunts took place across the UK on Boxing Day, a man alleged to be a supporter of a hunt in North Yorkshire was filmed hitting the window of a van with the animal’s body.

Blood and hair were left smeared across the glass and a group from the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA), activists who monitor and disrupt purported illegal hunting, claimed the vehicle was damaged.

The apparent attack occurred at midday on Thursday when a group of people approached the activists before a man was seen sprinting towards the van attempting to hide his face and brandishing the dead fox, which he then used as a weapon.

I had thought that fox hunting, a pastime of the upper classes and landed gentry in the country, had been banned because it was seen as a barbaric activity. It involves releasing a pack of dogs that chase across country after a terrified fox sometimes for hours on end, with a large number of traditionally dressed people with top hats and the like riding on horses after them yelling all manner of traditional hunting cries, in the process jumping over hedges and streams and the like. ‘Success’ is when the dogs catch the fox and tear him to bits.

Traditionally, if a kill follows, the brush (tail), mask (head), and pads (feet) of the fox may be given as trophies by the master to any followers whom he or she considers to deserve the honour. The body of the fox is then thrown to the hounds.

Oscar Wilde described it in his play A Woman of No Importance as “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.”

So why had I thought that it had been banned? I had mistaken news of a toothless ban in 2004 for a complete ban.

After years of passionate debate, the House of Commons finally voted in 2004 to pass the Hunting Ban; the final count was 356 to 166 [source: Alvaraz]. The ban made the use of dogs to kill prey illegal. Basically, riders could still follow hounds on horseback as hounds chased the fox, but when the fox is found, all but two dogs must be restrained. Those two dogs aren’t allowed to kill the fox, as before, but may flush it out so that the hunter kills it with a gun. So in the end, what’s so bad about fox hunting is not that the fox died, but that the fox was dying at the claws of dogs.

But how do you retrain dogs whose natural reward for hours of sniffing, barking and running used to be a fox? For some hunters, it seems, you can’t. There have been some “accidents” in the years after the ban; a pro-hunting group known as the Countryside Alliance warned that more foxes were killed post-ban than when hunting was legal [source: BBC].

Apparently, the day after Christmas is a popular day for fox hunts, with the ruling classes full of Christmas cheer and ready for a really good blood sport. Here is a video of people protesting a hunt two days ago.


  1. mailliw says

    Obviously fox hunting is a thoroughly barbaric “sport” and the ban should be enforced more rigourously.

    However I could be persuaded of the value of Fox hunting by hounds if the Fox in question happened to be disgraced former UK defence secretary Liam Fox. The man who is on record as saying that the post-Brexit trade deal would be “the easiest in human history”.

  2. says

    As long as there is a british upper class, they will chase foxes on horseback, imagining the good old days when they could ride anywhere and kill or rape at will.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    How can we arrange to let these unspeakables loose in full cry on the talented folks who bring us Fox News®?

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