Last week I reported on
the British Prime Minister Tony Blair once again taking up the cause against
fox hunting. The Labour Party previously tried to ban fox hunting, but
had to back down after huge demonstrations by supporters of the sport,
and some observers suspect Blair might pull back from his recent pronouncement.
The theory goes that Blair is using the fox hunting issue to court animal
rights groups, which are significant contributors to Labour, while also
trying to avoid excessively alienating sportsmen and their supporters.
After BlairÂ’s latest statements,
however, supporters of fox hunting point out that the anti-fox hunting
proposal is hypocritical since the British government itself funds the
hunting and killing of foxes in Scotland and Wales. The foxes are killed
as part of a pest control scheme, and all indications are that any ban
on fox hunting will contain a special exemption for the government-sponsored
culling of foxes.
Until the 1970s foxes in Scotland
and Wales were removed by the use of leg traps. The leg traps were banned
because they were alleged to be cruel and so the government
began subsidizing the hunting of the foxes. The animals are typically
tracked with hounds and then killed by rifle shot. Conservative and pro-hunt
member of parliament Paul Atkinson told the BBC that by banning fox hunting
by private individuals while simultaneously subsidizing fox hunting in
Scotland and Wales means “what they want to do is put people in prison
who ride around on horses with red coats,” alluding to the fact that
it is primarily the upper class that hunts foxes in Great Britain.
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