Wednesday 4 August 2010

Urban fox hunting video

The foxhunting debate is heading to the top of the news agenda once again - only this time it's urban foxes, and the 'hunters' are a gang of masked youths with cricket bats.

A group calling themselves the Urban Fox Hunters posted a video which appears to show a fox being drugged, chased, and battered to death.

Predictably, animal rights groups were outraged, and the video was pulled down from Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo and other hosting sites - but the internet is no place to try and put a cat (fox?) back in its bag. The group leader, 'Lone Horseman', continues to email copies of the video on request, and anyone can re-post the video faster than image-conscious sites can remove it.

Tabloids and the BBC picked up the story, and now we have fox-huggers offering a £1,000 reward for the identity of 'Lone Horseman'. The RSPCA investigations team are said to be studying the video "with a view to prosecution." More extreme groups are talking of taking the law into their own hands.

The saga is providing a fascinating insight into the British public's confused attitude to animals, something that 'Lone Horseman' seems determined to highlight with comments such as: "Let me ask you hippes one question.... a kid was stabbed round here a while back - no one batted an eyelid. Then we put down a filthy diseased pest and you all go effing balistic. Just look at yourselves!"

But is the whole thing an elaborate spoof? To me it has a distinct ring of Brass Eye about it. No doubt the truth will emerge in due course.


vicky said...

I hope this is some sort of spoof. Foxes are pests but they deserve respect. Traditional hunters managed a complicated blend of respect and reverence for their quarry and those who shoot foxes aim for a clean kill. Battering a drugged fox with a cricket bat, there is neither respect, humanity or even sport in that.

Anonymous said...

"Tabloids and the BBC picked up the story, and now we have fox-huggers offering a £1,000 reward for the identity of 'Lone Horseman'"

Surely any normal, sane member of society would also want to see these individuals prosecuted, not just the 'fox huggers'?. This is an example of pure, unecessary violence and cruelty, not humane pest control. It also suggests that the individuals responsible have some sort of personality disorder. Its not by accident that they are trying to live out a clockwork orange fantasy as suggested by the masks and bowler hats. I would certainly feel safer with them off the street and so should you....

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid the only confusion is on your part. You and your new urban hunting friends just keep on convincing yourself that the people who find your activities abhorent are all left-wing, fox-hugging hippies. The facts are actually quite different. There are just as many of us who are right-wing or libertarians who simply know cruelty when we see it and find it frightening that people like you seem to enjoy inflicting it.

You people breed foxes constantly by creating artificial earths and then attempt to play 'pest controller'. Any decent farmer or ex-hunter will attest to these hideous practices.

The constant references to anti-hunting people not caring about murder, abortion, halal slaughter etc. are even more ridiculous. You have no idea how any of us feel about these issues or whether we campaign against them. You are simply trying to discredit decent human beings by making us appear to be more sympathetic to animals than humans. Yes, there will always be some fanatics in the animal rights community just as there would be in any protest group. The rest of us are normal people who are all around you and are appalled by this vile excuse for a sport.

James Marchington said...

Anon, the red mist is blinding you. Where exactly did I say I support these people, even if they really exist (which I doubt, I strongly suspect the whole thing is a spoof).

If it's for real, shooting people will be equally outraged (see Vicky's comment above). And for the record, the suggestion that shooters would breed foxes in order to shoot them is laughable.

vicky said...

I have rarely hunted myself but have been involved with the hunting community for many years through work and friends. I have never seen or heard evidence in modern times of hunts creating earths, though I believe this happened in the distant past. Coverts were either planted or preserved to provide shelter for foxes and improve hunting but these coverts are now ancient and provide a vital habitat for wildlife in a sea of monoculture. The coverts are usually some distance from the farmstead and may also have encouraged foxes to live away from young livestock where they can serve a useful purpose eating rabbits. Their original planting may have been moralistically dubious but their upkeep by hunts gives much to the environment. Earth stopping was a common practice with the aim of trapping foxes above ground in areas where they were causing problems and landowners wanted to increase the chance of them being killed.
In the past foxhunts employed some dubious practices; digging a grounded fox out and then releasing it for further hunting for example. This practice had largely died out before the ban with grounded foxes either being 'given good' (an example of respect for a healthy fox which has evaded hounds) or dug out and dispatched by gun where fox numbers or problems neccessitated.
The urban fox problem is complicated. Some residents love to see foxes and encourage them by feeding them. No doubt this leads to tamer foxes and higher numbers. Over time these 'wild' animals can become genetically tamer (see Dogs by Coppinger and Coppinger for an explanation of dog evolution from wolves in this way) as this inmproves their survival rates. Sadly this then brings them into conflict with those in the town who don't like them; parents worried about disease risk (a real risk)and small pet or backyard hen owners concerned for their animals would be the two largest concerned groups.
I can't condone the actions reported to be shown in the video but there must be sensible debate about fox numbers in urban areas and their HUMANE control. Live catch traps, monitored twice daily followed by humane destruction (by lethal injection, gassing or shooting) of ill or nusiance foxes and a ban on artificial feeding of foxes would go some way to keeping all sides happy.

Meconopsis said...

Looks to me more like an Animal Aid type stunt to get support for anti fox hunting. Would they stoop so low ? From personal experience yes they would !

Sooty said...

James do not think Anon was meaning shooting fraternity about breeding foxes and false earths think he was meaning hunting fraternity.

James Marchington said...

Hi Sooty, yes you're probably right, but he/she addressed us as "you people" as though we're all at it. Left unchallenged, this sort of thing finds its way into the public consciousness, so I feel obliged to pick up on it. I don't know enough about hunting to say confidently what does and doesn't go on there, but from what I hear the RSPCA and wildlife sanctuaries are doing a good job of populating the countryside with dopey urban foxes anyhow, so there'd be no need!