Hunting more popular than ever in UK Posted by: McQ
on Thursday, December 28, 2006
Sometimes I absolutely love the Brits. You can take a lot of things from them, but apparently one thing that they're not going to let go of easily is the hunt:
Record numbers of hunt supporters gathered at Boxing Day events across the country in defiance of Labour's ban on hunting with hounds.
Organisers claimed that hunting was more popular than ever and that more than 300,000 braved the cold to enjoy their favourite pastime.
It is a bit like the assault gun ban here. Study the law, find the loopholes and then exploit them. In the case of the guns, many manufactures simply changed the design slightly and renamed the gun. In Britain, hunters just did what the law allowed:
Anti-hunt campaigners say huntsmen have been exploiting loopholes in the 2004 Act.
Foxes can still be driven out of hiding by dogs and shot - as long as no more than two hounds are involved.
Another loophole allows birds of prey to pursue foxes. This has led to up to 30 hunts buying such birds.
Drag hunts, where riders and hounds pursue a scented rag, and trail hunts, where they follow a scent trail, are both allowed. If the dogs stumble upon a fox and kill it, that too is permissible under law.
It would be hard to prove a person with hounds had gone out intending to hunt illegally. The numbers of people involved and the large areas of land hunts cover make it hard to detect a crime or identify culprits.
Opponents had hoped that the ban would effectively kill interest (no pun intended) in the sport, but instead, it seems to have spurred interest instead.
Jo Aldridge, spokeswoman for the Beaufort Hunt, claimed that more foxes were being killed since the ban as huntsmen and women are legally allowed to shoot the animals if they are flushed out by no more than two dogs.
She said: "There were more than 2,000 attending the hunt today, with around 150 of those on horseback. The hunt was extremely well attended - it took us by surprise to some extent.
"The ban has not affected the popularity of hunt at all, in fact we seem to be being supported in greater numbers than ever, so the ban hasn't worked from that viewpoint.
"Foxes are still being killed by the gun, probably in greater numbers than when they would be killed via the hunt."
More than 2,000 supporters attended the Worcester Hunt to the Raven Hotel in Droitwich.
Joint Master David Palmer said: "The crowds were as large as we have ever known them. Most are people who we might not see for the rest of the year, but who come out on Boxing Day to show their support for the hunt."
Love it. Makes me feel the British might survive as a culture after all. There are, apparently, traditional lines you just don't cross.