Masters of Foxhounds Association warns of shortage of foxes

Countryside Alliance email reveals plan to breed foxes …so hunters can kill them

THE pro-hunting lobby’s main argument for killing foxes – to control them as pests – is today revealed as a lie.

The Sunday Mirror has learned that a letter sent by the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) to 800 hunt masters and chairmen warns of a nationwide “shortage of foxes”.

It also urged that landowners should be encouraged to breed more foxes to solve the “problem”.

The letter came to light when the Sunday Mirror obtained a copy of an email sent in response to it by Simon Hart, chief executive of the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance.

In the email to Lord Daresbury, chairman of the MFHA, he expressed his concern that if the letter was leaked “we would be ridiculed in Parliament, the Press and in all parts of Britain where hunting is firstly population control and secondly recreational.”

He added: “I do want to re-stress that the Alliance is here to play its part in securing hunting’s future but we cannot do this if the core arguments are undermined. I am one of those who has never been happy about our reliance on the ‘pest control’ case, partly because so few people understand that control is not always the same as extermination – in fact it rarely is.”

He calls the letter – which he says “advocates the artificial enhancement of a pest species for purely sporting benefit” – “politically naive”. He says the letter’s suggestion that hunt masters “should be firmer with subscribers ‘who do not keep foxes’ dismays me”.

Incredibly, he then asks: “How do we explain that to the Mirror?”

He is also critical of the suggestion that hunt masters should express “polite disappointment” if more foxes aren’t spotted on shoots. He continues: “Hunting sits on the edge of a precipice as far as its future is concerned.”

Josey Sharrad, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: “These admissions completely destroy the argument for retaining fox hunting.

“Hunting is clearly not about pest control and never has been, it is purely and simply about killing animals for fun. The pro-hunt lobby can never again claim they are acting in the best interest of the countryside.

“We already know that many hunts use artificial earths – man-made fox holes – to encourage more foxes to breed. The Beaufort Hunt where Prince Charles rides is one of them. They also kill their hunt dogs if they show no desire to kill or if they get too old. These people are not the animal lovers they claim. I hope this is the final nail in the coffin that helps finish fox hunting for all time.”

Professor Stephen Harris, of Bristol University, who has studied the effects of fox hunting, added: “This admission reveals the hypocrisy of the pro-hunt lobby. They don’t manage the fox population and they don’t control it.

“They hunt for fun and they enjoy it, they should just admit it.”

The Government intends to ban all fox hunting from 2006.

CROONER Brian Ferry’s son Otis, 21 – the youngest hunt master in the country refused to answer questions about the breeding of foxes when confronted by the Sunday Mirror. Ferry, who led the the South Shropshire Hunt as it killed at least three foxes on Friday, said: “I don’t like talking without appointments.”

Source : Sunday Mirror