Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Christmas-time hunts confirm a culture of cruelty which cannot go on

Christmas time is typically looked-to as an occasion to promote goodwill and unity. It seems completely contradictory then, that on Boxing Day, thousands go forth in a ritualistic tearing up of animals, habitat and hopes. The issue is hunting and the subject is the Boxing Day hunts; which approximately 250,000 people turned up to in the last days of 2015, according to estimates by The Countryside Alliance. It shows that a culture celebrating slaughter still exists, often emblazoned with uniform and some even arguing that it is in the interests of ‘conservation’. It’s hard to see what is conserved by chasing a beautiful animal until exhaustion levels over fields, before committing it to a cruel death: the reality of foxhunting. We  need to know how important it is to address the myth and expose the lies which linger around the current ‘ban’. More work is needed and the current legislation is not enough: foxhunting needs to be tackled, for good.

Filled with inconsistencies and loopholes

Fox hunting and its current ‘ban’ – as well as Conservative attempts to challenge that position – has received increased attention in the media over the course of 2015. However, that the ban has remained could be seen as causing a sense of stagnation; when more work is needed to address the issue. What it is crucial to remember is that the fox hunting ban does not mean the problem is resolved. In fact, the crucial legislation is filled with inconsistencies and loopholes; something which needs greater attention if we are to ‘go forward; into 2016. What we need to go forward with is a change in attitudes; people shouldn’t have to just feel ‘satisfied’ with the current ban, people shouldn’t feel afraid to speak out and to condemn a fox hunt should not be demonised as anti-tradition or anti-patriot. In fact, to decry the ritualistic killing of Britain’s animals is perhaps one of the proudest things anyone can do. That is why I am fighting for it to be a big focus for 2016.

The current fox hunting ban is not enough, and there are a number of issues which make this clear.  Boxing day hunts highlight a big problem; that the culture of hunting and killing is still endorsed.  The press flocked to capture film and pictures of the parades, quick to jump on the ‘controversy; of Tracey Crouch, the sports minister and her comments on the event, that hunting should be ‘consigned to history’. Crouch’s comments are not a stir of ‘controversy’ at all, nor should they be sold as such. What she is saying are clear words of common sense; that hunting animals in this way is wrong and needs to be stopped per se.

It is in the detail that further faults lie

The current hunting ban is clearly not what it says on the tin. The idea of a ‘ban’ suggests complete stoppage, that the activity is prohibited, seen as bad, incorrect, wrong.  Yet it seems peculiar that an event associated with a ‘ban’ goes to be celebrated on not just Boxing Day, but at a variety of events throughout the year. And it’s not just outwardly that the ban doesn’t make sense, it is in the detail that further faults lie. ‘Trail’ hunting still continues throughout the year; a practice where hounds are still allowed to chase after a fox scent which artificially laid. Yet the number of times this results in the persuing and killing of actual foxes is likely high, as well as poorly monitored. The continuance of this clearly highlights a culture which casts foxes as something to ‘pursue’, nothing more than a piece of ‘chase’. Plus there is discretion in place to allow for ‘accidents’ resulting in the death of a fox; whatever these may be interpreted as. Ultimately, there are a number of loopholes for hunters to comfortably slip through, mockingly even.

Therefore, 2016 needs to be the year where we address hunting, even in light of the ban. In order to progress, we cannot simply slide into acceptance. A corrupt culture which celebrates the killing of animals as ‘game’ and ‘tradition’ still continues. It is up to people who care about the preservation of wildlife and our country to expose this. It;s essential to emphasize the importance of true awareness for what foxhunting really is. Increased awareness, open conversation and keeping up with campaigns are all important. Just because there is a ban, doesn’t mean that the cruelty is banished. Foxhunting is going to be an issue I will focus on considerably in 2016.

Let’s keep the ban AND make it a ban for good.

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