BY SARAH GREENWOOD
Having watched the recent ‘Disney’fied production narrated by Chris Packham about ‘fox hunting’, there are some comments about this ‘production’ I would like to draw your attention to:
Overall, the Chris Packham et al portrayal of the countryside is misleading, claiming it is a place of ‘tranquility’ and ‘serenity’ with all creatures living in harmony, when it patently is not. Predators kill their prey creatures slowly. For example, raptors use a variety of killing techniques, using their talons to suffocate, or disembowel, or crush the head or sever the spine. Foxes typically kill by a bite to the back of the neck, much the same as used to happen to them when hunted pre ban. Stoats kill in a similar fashion but weasels bite and keep biting until their prey is dead. Badgers eat hedgehogs, deer die by a variety of means, road traffic accidents, giving birth, fighting, bad weather, falls, drowning and injury causing sepsis, lambs die by being pecked to death by crows, so the countryside is hardly a peaceful haven for all God’s creatures.
In this infantile cartoon there is an assertion, or allegation, that only 1% of hunts lay trails.
- There is no corroborated source for this figure.
- There are 367 registered packs of hounds in England, Scotland and Wales. This figure includes 11 packs of draghounds. (Source, Baily’s Hunting Directory)
- Only a small percentage of these hunts are pestered by sabs and ‘monitors’, all of whom have an agenda to stop hunting for a myriad of reasons. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that their allegations of hunting a scent laid by live quarry during the course of its natural peregrinations lacks authenticity, mainly because they do not know which land the hunts are likely to be traversing so will not have been on site to verify any trail laying happening. Not seeing trail laying happening does not mean that it has not happened.
- The image in the video of a bit of rag attached to a stick is used to plant the idea that this is an amateurish attempt to mislead the viewer but does not show that other methods of trail laying are employed e.g. a narrow pipe dripping scent from a container attached to the trail layer, as demonstrated by the Border Beagle Hound Club on its Facebook page (see image below). Having said that, the trail layer of the drag pack near me uses a bit of rag on a string, so it a common way to trail lay. Hunt sabs seem to have no problem with drag packs laying lines this way, but this is not alluded to.
There is an assertion that hound pups are taught from a young age to hunt foxes.
- There is absolutely no proof given that this happens. A hound pup will follow a scent because that is what it is bred for and encouraged to do. It is also encouraged not to hunt certain animals when out in the field. There is no legal requirement for what goes into a trail scent, but according to Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team fox urine is no longer available to buy in the UK though it is not illegal to use. If a fox crossed a laid trail and hounds deviated onto it, this bears no proof of intent to hunt a fox, and it would not be illegal unless no attempt to stop hounds following it were made. As it’s likely that any member of the public, whether anti or not, could come across the hunt at any point and witness a deliberate attempt to hunt live quarry, this predisposes hunts to use video evidence to prove their lack of guilt.
- There is a legal requirement that they should provide evidence of trail laying if any allegations progress to court ( Cheshire Police RCT), so it’s in the hunt’s own interest to be able to verify their innocence due to it being an open-air pursuit and capable of being witnessed by the general public, most of whom would not want to see live quarry hunting.
- Chris Packham and friends allege that they are used by all hunts for nefarious reasons, ignoring the fact that terriermen tend not to accompany foot packs, and that terrier work is legal.
- ’Countrymen’, formerly known as terriermen, and still known as terriermen by sabs and antis who use the term in a lazy way to attempt to discredit hunts, are useful to mounted packs as quad followers who supervise the country. Hence countrymen mend fences, open gates, repair wire, catch loose horses etc. Obviously, these uses are ignored by antis and sabs, who prefer to portray them as predators used to illegally catch foxes at all costs.
- Terrier work, in fact, is a legal activity as long as it is done within prescribed rules. The National Working Terrier Federation (NWTF) has a list of aims and objectives, which include promoting the best, most humane practices in relation to working terriers for pest control purposes.
- They state that terrier work is in a much stronger position than any other form of hunting with dogs, and in Scotland terrier work came out of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 with less restrictions than its own voluntary codes of conduct and rules.
- In England and Wales, it was the only form of hunting with dogs that the Hunting Act 2004 does not seek to ban. A single dog can be used to work below ground to flush out wild mammals solely for the purpose of protecting game or wild birds and should be shot. The terrier worker must carry written permission by the landowner and intend to shoot the mammal after it is flushed. Nets can be used over entry and exit holes during flushing. The hunting of rats and rabbits is exempt from this legislation.
- Therefore, if a fox is seen going to ground in the vicinity of a trail hunt it is legal for it to be accounted for by terrier work. This must be done at the landowner’s request and permission.
General tone of the cartoon falls into the disinformation category.
- According to the Resist Counterinformation Tool Kit published by the [UK] Government Communication Service, Disinformation is the deliberate creation and dissemination of false or manipulated information intended to deceive and mislead for purposes of harm, or political, personal or financial gain.
- Disinformation is about influence and leading the general public away from making an informed choice.
- That there are no facts or information put forward in the cartoon to offer a balanced view of what happens, and the fact it is ‘fronted’ by a well-known public figure known for his programmes on wildlife, shows that there is a degree of manipulation involved as the viewer is led to believe that what is put forward is factual. This is a calculated manipulation by the makers of the cartoon to show a particular point of view.
- Claims made, for example, about the National Trust vote to ban trail hunting on its land, is not put in context, therefore leading the viewer to believe that all NT members were against hunting as opposed to the reality – 98% didn’t vote.
This cartoon is subversive and manipulative throughout and bears little resemblance to the reality. Fortunately, the video was a dud anyway and few watched it. Such propaganda merits dying away unseen by gullible eyes.