The BBC is reporting that the number of foxes killed by hunts in Scotland actually increased after the Scottish Parliament passed a ban on hunting with dogs.
The legal change in Scotland forbid huntsmen from using dogs to hunt down and kill foxes. Instead, they are only allowed to use dogs to flush out foxes who then have to be shot by hunters, and in any event only for pest control purposes.
According to the BBC, this change actually makes it more likely that foxes being hunted will be killed,
It’s claimed that since a ban came into force the hunts are killing more foxes, because the animals stand less chance of getting away from guns than they did from the hounds.
There’s also concern that in the past the younger, fitter, healthier foxes were the most likely to get away from the pack.
But now they’re the very ones most likely to break from cover first, which makes them more like to be shot.
Older or diseased animals may stay hidden and so escape. Hunts say this is bound to be bad for fox populations in the long run.
The most amusing part of the Scottish ban is the debate over “flushing” vs. “searching.” Under the ban, hunters are allowed to use dogs to flush foxes from their hiding places, but they are not supposed to use dogs to actively search for foxes. Sounds like a hair-splitting lawyer’s employment program to me. The BBC quotes huntsman Trevor Adams saying,
Flushing, and looking for a fox, are pretty similar things really. The fox is a wild animal and nobody knows exactly where it is, so you have to search for it a certain extent to find out where it is. . . . What you’re not allowed to do is go off searching, without a need to control that animal.
Sounds like they’d need to take a lawyer with them on every hunt. Frankly, I’m disappointed that the rights of dogs to pursue their carnivorous nature with foxes isn’t taken seriously by the animal rights activists.
Huntsmen ‘destroying more foxes’. Huw Williams, BBC, November 20, 2004.