It’s that time of year again; when both sides of the hunting debate ramp up the propaganda machine to eleven and claims and counter-claims brighten up radio talk shows.
The latest polls suggest that eight four per cent of the UK population oppose hunting foxes with hounds. The Countryside Alliance claims, every year, that more and more people turn out for the “traditional” Boxing Day and New Year hunts. What they don’t tell us is how many of those who turn out really believe that hunts no longer kill foxes (they do).
As those of us opposed to hunting battle for the Hunting Act loopholes to be closed (they can chase a fox with hounds to a bird of prey or “accidently” kill one when it happens to cross their “trail”), supporters of country (re blood) sports label us “townies” who “don’t understand countryside ways”. In other words, we should “keep our noses out”.
There are several flaws with this notion.
In a post-Brexit referendum backdrop, do we really want to divide our country further? Is a town versus countryside agenda really the best those who enjoy the “spectacle” of a fox being torn apart can do?
This “townie” grew up on the edge of the Lincolnshire Fens. My father an agricultural engineer, my grandparents farmed flowers for a living. So, yup, I’m a really “townie”. The last time I looked, the countryside belonged to us all – we all pay taxes for it, after all. In fact, our taxes also go towards the huge farming subsidies that many in the countryside still receive, and are likely to do so post-Brexit. That, to me, suggests that what happens in those tax-payer-subsidised farms is very much our business.
Farmers are always screaming at consumers to “buy British”. Many of those consumers are also “townies” – “townies” who should keep their noses out of the countryside…. So, maybe, those in the countryside should keep their noses out of “townies’” buying habits? After all, production methods in other nations are often criticised in the UK Press – and by farming bodies – so, maybe, just maybe, that gives us a right to have a very strong view of production methods (including so-called “vermin” control) here too.
Farmers are always protesting about supermarket pricing (admittedly, I’m hardly a big business fan either), maybe we should suggest these farmers simply don’t understand “townies’” ways? Would could make the same response in reply to buying British pleas.
Truth is, subsidies and taxes aside, most “townies” send a lot of money to the British countryside – either through buying the produce or through tourism. That makes countryside issues very much our business – to suggest otherwise is simply obscene.
As a final note, foxes are the best form of vermin control a farmer could possibly have – killing plenty of rabbits (their main prey and the farmers’ most significant “pest”) every year. As a vegan, I’d much prefer to see natural pest management by leaving foxes alone than throwing in ill-judged human intervention.