In Defense of Animals Asks Judge to Reconsider Feral Pig Slaughter Ruling

In Defense of Animals in August asked a judge to reconsider a July decision that rejected its efforts to stop the National Park Service’s plan to eradicate wild pigs on Santa Cruz island in California.

Pigs were first introduced to the island in the mid-19th century. Ever since, according to the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy, they have been eroding the soil and damaging native plants and animals.

To put an end to the problem once and for all, the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy plan to hire a New Zealand firm, Prohunt, to eradicate the pigs. The firm will only receive its $3.9 million fee once there are no more pigs left on the island. Prohunt began killing pigs on Santa Cruz in April 2005.

In Defense of Animals has so far unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the plan in court. Their objections to the slaughter of the animals provides an interesting look at how animal rights ideology conflicts with environmental protection efforts.

The major claim made by the park service is that the presence of the pigs indirectly threatens the Santa Cruz Island fox. According to the park service, golden eagles are attracted to the island to feed on pigs, and while they’re there they also feed on the foxes to the point where there are believed to be only about 150 foxes left on the island.

Nature Conservancy spokeswoman Julie Benson told the Los Angeles Times that the choice was clear — wild pigs exist in large numbers throughout the world, whereas this particular fox only inhabits this island. Killing the pigs to save the foxes is, to Benson, the obvious choice.

Not so to IDA president Elliott Katz who told the Los Angeles Times that trying to make this sort of decision is attempting to foist human morality on to nature (emphasis added),

Northern California veterinarian Elliot Katz said that allowing the deaths of thousands of pigs for the benefit of a few foxes
doesn’t seem to be a fair balance of nature. Katz, founder and president of In Defense of Animals, a nonprofit animal rights
organization based in the Bay Area city of Mill Valley, supports halting the pig slaughter and says he intends to contact
Feldman about lending his support for the lawsuit.

“Our position is to take a step back and not to be killing animals for man’s belief of what’s right and wrong,” Katz said.
“Allowing an injunction will permit everyone to step back and rethink this thing and also to further evaluate whether it’s
necessary to remove each and every pig from the island.”

Presumably since relying on human standards of morality is not possible, Katz will be channeling supernatural powers to guide human interaction with the environment.


Suit Filed to Halt Pig Eradication on Santa Cruz Island. Gregory W. Griggs, Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2005.

British Court Rejects Latest Fox Hunting Appeal

In July, the UK’s High Court rejected a second appeal by fox hunting supporters to overturn the 2004 Hunting Act. That act banned fox hunting with dogs.

In their appeal, the Countryside Alliance argued that the Hunting Act violated the European Convention on Human Rights because it was a “sectarian measure.” Essentially, they argued that the hunting ban was an irrational, ideologically-motivated law akin to, say, a ban on a specific religious practice just because it was practiced by a minority of citizens.

Countryside Alliance’s lawyer, Richard Gordon, had argued that,

What emerges strongly, however the argument is put, is, we suggest, the very divisive nature of the legislation.

Many members of the House of Commons voting on the issue obviously objected strongly to hunting on doctrinal grounds – that is clear.

But we say strong feelings cannot be, and are not in law, a substitute for the exercise that has to be undertaken before Convention rights can be legitimately interfered with.

. . .

We say, if one takes away the strength of feeling from the furor over hunting, very little is left in terms of law, and a total ban of this kind is not justified.

The High Court soundly rejected that line of reasoning. Justices May and Moses said that there was varying opinion about whether or not foxes suffer more when hunted by dogs vs. when they are shot, but that the legislature had a legitimate reason to address this issue. They said,

We consider that there was sufficient material available to the House of Commons for them to conclude that hunting with dogs is cruel.

. . .

[It was] reasonably open to the majority of the democratically-elected House of Commons to conclude that this measure was necessary in the democratic society which had elected them.

The Countryside Alliance bemoaned the verdict, with its chairman John Jackson telling the BBC,

The judges have accepted that there is interference with some of the claimants’ rights, and that the Hunting Act will have a substantial general adverse effect on the lives of many in the rural community.

However, the court, ignoring events in the Commons and the Lords, appears to have proceeded on the assumption that Parliament had a legitimate aim and has itself then speculated on what that may have been.

Whether the court is right to have proceeded in this way is plainly a controversial question./p>

Animal rights advocates, on the other hand, were very pleased. John Cooper, chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, told The Guardian,

We welcome this recognition that there is no human right to be cruel. The Hunting Act is a popular act, the ban is being enforced and, most importantly, animals are no longer able to be abused in the name of this barbaric bloodsport. This is a resounding defeat for the hunters, who need to move forward and accept the democratic will of parliament and the majority of the general public, and learn to take non for an answer.

The Countryside Alliance is still waiting for the Law Lords in the House of Lords to rule on its appeal of the High Court’s February rejection of its argument that the Hunting Act is in violation of Great Britain’s Parliament Act.

There are likely to be further appeals, but at the moment, the odds of the fox hunting advocates actually prevailing seems pretty slim.


High court rejects hunting ban challenge. Press Association, July 29, 2005.

Hunt campaign loses court battle. The BBC, July 29, 2005.

Hunting ban ‘a sectarian measure’. Liverpool Daily Post, July 5, 2005.

Police Warn Hunt Opponents about Vigilante Activities

Police in Cumbria, Great Britain warned in March that they will not tolerate vigilante activities by anti-hunt protests. Right, just like Great Britain has shown it will not tolerate harassment and violence for anti-animal research activists.

Police Superintendent Steve Turnbull told The Whitehaven News,

We would also discourage anyone from disrupting legal activities.

If anybody has any information [on illegal hunts] they should hand it over to the police. We will listen to them.

Wow — police are actually going to discourage people from interfering with legal activities. What a bold policy. Turnbull’s really going out on a limb here.


Police Warn Anti-Hunt Vigilantes. The Whitehaven News, April 2005.

Hunts Continue Despite Ban

In a press release, the Countryside Alliance noted that although the ban on fox hunting with hounds went into effect on February 18th, hunts actively continued despite the ban.

According to the press release,

Hunts have taken part in more than 1,000 days of hunting and approximately 800 foxes alone have been killed since the ban came into force. Fox hunts have used a variety of methods including flushing foxes to guns, and terrier work to protect game birds.

It is a huge morale boost to see hunts determined to retain their infrastructure until this temporary ban is repealed. Hunts around the country have shown just how impossible it would be for already over stretched police forces to enforce the legislation.

The response from animal rights activists has been that the number would have been even greater without the ban and that some of the hunts mentioned above may be in violation of the law, while pro-hunt activists maintain they are operating legally and this is about the same number of foxes killed during the same period last year.


800 foxes killed since the ban on hunting. Charles Clover, The Daily Telegraph, March 25, 2005.

Animal Rights Activists Nails Problems with Anti-Hunting Legislation

As everyone reading this is probably well aware, the ban on hunting foxes with hounds finally went into effect in Great Britain earlier this month. Although pro-hunting groups still have some limited legal options left, it is likely that the opponents of fox hunting will prevail and fox hunting with hounds will enter a very odd quasi-legal status, given the likely lack of enthusiasm on the part of police to enforce the ban and the confusion that the ban creates about what is and is not a legal hunt.

Shortly after the ban finally went into effect, The Daily Post published a profile of League Against Cruel Sports and North Wales Animal Rights activist Judi Hewitt which, to my mind, really did a nice job of inadvertently summing up the idiocy of the anti-hunt position.

Characterizing defenders of hunting as “evil people” Hewitt told The Daily Post,

The ban was good news, but I can’t understand how some limited hunting will still be allowed. All killing of wildlife should end, and I can’t stop until it does. The hunters complain about their civil rights — but what about the civil rights of those who want to visit the countryside without seeing innocent creatures horribly killed?

So let me get this straight — Hewitt won’t rest until rural areas are free of “all killing of wildlife” but she’s taken up the standard on behalf of foxes? She wants to be spared “seeing innocent creatures horribly killed” in natural settings, but comes to the aid of one of the cleverest hunters in the animal kingdom, the fox? (Foxes will, for example, engage in what is euphemistically called “surplus hunting” — killing far more prey than it can eat at the time in order to bury the carcasses and dig them up later).

How does Hewitt get from the proposition that killing wildlife is wrong to the completely contradictory proposition that foxes are “innocent”? Why do people become “evil” when they simply do to the fox what the fox has no problem at all doing to “innocent” birds and rodents?

Somebody wake me up when these people start making sense.


No rest for ‘evil people’. Andrew Forgrave, Daily Post, February 17, 2005.

Great Britain's Ban on Fox Hunting Finally Goes Through

After years of trying and failing to force through a ban on fox hunting, the Labor government finally succeeded in passing a law that will ban fox hunting with hounds beginning in February 2005.

In order to do so, however, the government had to invoke the Parliament Act for only the fourth time since 1949. The Parliament Act allows the House of Commons to override opposition from the House of Lords. With the House of Lords again opposing the ban on fox hunting by a vote of 153-114, invoking the Parliament Act was the only way the ban was ever going to happen.

Since 1949, the Parliament Act had only been used to pass the War Crimes Act of 1991, the European Parliamentary Elections Act of 1999, and the Sexual Offences Act of 2000 (to lower the age of consensual sex for homosexuals). Apparently, the Labor government find fox hunting to be an issue on the same scale as war crimes and sexual offences.

Royal Society for the Prevent of Cruelty to Animals’ John Rolls called the bill,

. . . a watershed in the development of a more civilized society for people and animals.

But many of those involved in the act — including supporters — see the bill as being not so much about animals, but rather being about British class warfare.

On November 21, for example, Labor MP Peter Bradley — a strong proponent of the ban — penned an op-ed for the Sunday Telegraph headlined, “Yes, this is about class war” which read, in part,

Now that hunting has been banned, we ought at last to own up to it: the struggle over the Bill was not just about animal welfare and personal freedom, it was class war.

Labour governments have come and gone and left little impression on the gentry. But a ban on hunting touches them. It threatens their inalienable right to do as they please on their land. For the first time, a decision of a Parliament they don’t control has breached the lodge gates.

The placards of the Countryside Alliance plead “Listen to Us”, but what they mean is “Do What We Say” – as for centuries we have. That old order no longer prevails. Deference has been eroded by a new, universal prosperity. It’s the recognition of that irrevocable change that has made the campaign for hunting so fierce and yet so futile.

The landowners have come to realize that although they still own the country, they no longer run it. That does not make them the victimized minority they claim to be, but it does make them very angry.

So the minority which for centuries ran this country from the manor houses of rural England now rails against the hegemony of an elected majority in Parliament. And, covertly encouraged by some peers and Tory grandees, those who today threaten to defy the laws they do not like bear the names of the legislators who for generations kept the rest of us in our place.

But the problem the landowners face is not theirs alone. It is shared by the Conservatives with whom, to their mutual disadvantage, they are so closely associated.

. . .

The old order is going, but its values continue to dominate the Tory belief system. In a culture that now demands equality of opportunity, too many Conservatives can only properly enjoy what others do not have.

That is why they have an ideological commitment to private health and public schools. It’s why they oppose the right to roam and a ban on hunting. For them it’s ownership of property, especially land, and not citizenship that confers privilege. It’s why they believe that the rights of minorities – or at least their minority – should prevail over those of majorities. But in an age in which we are all aspirational and few are deferential, that is an increasingly unappealing philosophy. The tide is against the Tories as it is against the hunters and, now more than ever, the House of Lords.

Fox hunting supporters, for their part, vowed to defy the ban. Countryside Alliance chairman John Jackson told the Associated Press,

True civil disobedience is now on the horizon.

In fact, several hundred hunt supporters protested outside a banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II for visiting French President Jacques Chirac.


Yes, this is about class war. Peter Bradley, Sunday Telegraph, November 21, 2004.

Queen approves hunting ban. ic Croydon, November 18, 2004.

Brits outlaw fox hunting. Associated Press, November 18, 2004.