Rules of Foxhunting according to the MFHA (Masters of Foxhounds Association)

There are too many rules to outline them all. The following is a list of the Golden Rules.

  1. Foxhunting as a sport is the hunting of the fox (or coyote) in his wild and natural state with a pack of hounds. Nothing must be done which in any way compromises this rule. The MFHA have laid down detailed rules for Masters of Foxhounds to observe, the most important of which are:
    1. If, when a fox is run to ground, the decision is that the fox be killed, it must be humanely destroyed; (note this is normally decided to accord with the wishes of the landowner or tenant);
    2. When a hunted fox is run to ground there shall he no digging other than for the purpose of humanely destroying the fox;
    3. A fox which has had to he handled by a terrierman or his assistant must either be freed or humanely destroyed immediately; under no circumstances may it be hunted.
  2. Hunting flourishes entirely because of the goodwill of landowners and farmers. No one who goes hunting should do anything to jeopardise this goodwill. It should always be borne in mind that for much of any hunting day, you are a guest on someone else's land.
  3. Masters of Foxhounds or their appointed deputies are solely responsible for conducting the day's hunting and are bound by the strict rules and instructions of the MFHA.Their authority is absolute and their instructions must always be cheerfully obeyed.

Is fox hunting neccesary? Well foxes are a pest to livestock but is this a significant threat? Well according to the Farmers Union of Wales, "All counties in Wales have reported an increase in fox numbers and predation since the Hunting Authorities commenced their voluntary ban on 22 February 2001. The Union's County Branches are receiving an increasing number of calls from farmers concerned at the effects of a protracted ban on fox control during the autumn period.". This demonstrates that perhaps fox hunting does indeed have an effect on fox population and that this worries farmers. Other evidence points towards an intolerable increase in fox population during World War 2 when hunting was not a common pastime. It has been estimated that foxes are culled on an average of 88% of farms across mid Wales, the east Midlands and west Norfolk. The MFHA reports that they are responsible for a minimum of 21,000 fox kills per year in the United Kingdom.

What's so bad about foxes? Famers have various reasons to want a control on fox population. They prey on livestock and game, and spread diseases (foxes can spread parasites, and virii, but there is no evidence to support that they are significant spreaders). It is estimated that 2% of lambs are killed by foxes. The market price of a lamb is about £30 (1996). This percentage may or may not be a significant loss of money. The NFU has reported that some farmers lose 25% of pre-weaning pigs to foxes. It should be noted that rabbits are more of a pest than foxes.

Is fox hunting an effective method? It has been shown (in the sources below and elsewhere) that killing with dogs, "accounts for a substantial proportion of the numbers of foxes killed", however, shooting is a more efficient way to reduce fox populations. The contribution of traditional foxhunting (as a sport) is small compared to other techniques involving dogs. There are, however, regional differences in the effectiveness of culling techniques. Fox hunting in sheep-rearing upland areas may have significant effect.

Do the foxes suffer? - It is unknown. Chris Barnard, professor of animal behaviour and Jane Hurst, a behavioural ecologist have both put forward the theory that to the fox, being hunted is a normal and natural thing (the fox has no natural predators, it is argued, it does have a natural predator, man, which has hunted foxes for hundreds of years). The fox doesn't appear to anticipate its own death and so is not scared of it. So from this we can conclude that the fox may not suffer as a result of the chase (but either arguement is impossible to prove). As for the kill itself, it is reported to be quick. The fox is grabbed by a hound by its leg, and the next blow is often to the neck (The Phelps Report). The fox is usually dead instantly. The fox does get torn to peices, but it is dead before this fate occurs. The worst case scenario is a 10 second death. This is all speculation however, post-mortem reports have shown that both being torn apart, and neck breakage occur, no figures are available for this. It is clear that in the vast majority of cases the fox is killed within seconds. By saying "one can tell the foxes suffer, wouldn't you if a dozen dogs were chasing you?" is nothing but anthropomorphism. It is not scientific. It can be assumed, however, that the fox suffers during the last few seconds of the hunt.

What would be the effect, if fox hunting is banned? Not an easy thing to predict. It is clear that the great majority of land owners feel that it is necessary. If it was banned, however, there would be an increase in the number of shootings and snaring as a result of the percieved increase in fox numbers whether real or not. In some areas there would probably be an adverse increase in foxes.

The alternatives to hunting? Snaring and trapping are most certainly no less cruel than fox hunting, and is less discrimatory of its victim. The victim caught in the snare is trapped. Almost without exception, animals trapped and unable to move (especially by the neck) undergo a great deal of stress, and are open to attack by predators. "Lamping and shooting", seems to be the most humane way of culling foxes, the fox has a bright spotlight shone at it at night and is shot. Unfortunately this method is not always practical, especially in upland areas where vehicular access is limited. The use of shotguns in daylight is not a good method, the fox frequently survives, only to die later...foxes are not easy targets, they move fast and are small.

Basically it can be shown that there is a percieved need for fox culling. There are welfare concerns in all forms of culling, and there are only two forms that are both practical and effective, with lower welfare problems. Hunting with dogs and lamping and shooting. Where lamping and shooting are impossible, it is necessary to cull using dogs.

Report of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals"---- Cmd. 8266
Report of Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England & Wales
The Bateson and Harris Report
Report of a Review of Hunting with Hounds, Mr Richard Phelps, Professor W.R.Allan and Professor S R Harrop

A note on the sources. They are all either independant or pro fox hunting. We have anti foxhunting already covered in the above write ups.

Another Note: I've tried to avoid using my opinion in the above w/u where possible. This node already has subjective writeups, and I thought a few facts couldn't hurt it. All facts, and opinions come from the sources as listed (I may have missed some). If somebody wants to enjoy killing foxes that is up to them. There are no thought police here. The fact that some people enjoy watching animals die bothers me.

Webster_1913 seems to favour fox-hunting to fox hunting.