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Is fox hunting ethically correct?

Before I begin I would like to tell you my point of view on this issue so that you will notice the bias when it appears: I am against it.

Here in the United Kingdom fox hunting continues to happen. Packs of dogs leading people riding horses continue to relentlessly hunt foxes. This, many hunters claim, is done for the "removal of a pest". Yet many people I know personally enjoy every moment of it! They say "if you're going to work why not make it fun" or something else along those lines. Some have even gotten upset with how I disagree with what I see as a violent murder instead of their view as an enjoyable sport.

In fox hunting a man will often go around the area before the beginning of the hunt and block up the foxes dens. Once the hunt starts the foxes will attempt to flee from the dogs by entering the nearest den they know of. These dens are, of course, closed. This forces the fox to continue fleeing from the pack of dogs at its heels. Should the fox find a burrow or den and manage to enter it then someone called a "terrier man" will attempt to flush out or dig out the fox.

Why do I find that cruel? One reason is because foxes are built for speed, not endurance. They will outrun the dogs for quite sometime before losing their energy and being descended upon by the pack. Another is because we are killing and animal that we consider a "pest" and yet is a natural part of the ecosystem here. Wolves were a "pest" in the United States and look at what happened to them, hunted to near extinction! Is it right to kill a fox because it's hungry and we're building on top of its den and putting farms around its home? Is it right to kill anything on such grounds?

What do you all think about this issue? You have heard my overly biased view and it is up for discussion.

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    Nov 30 2011: Well, my answer depends on whether or not foxes are pests in the UK. I fully agree that all animals are part of the natural ecosystem and should be allowed to live as such. For example I find it very saddening that all wolves and bears have long since been hunted to extinction in Germany. Some wolves have in the meantime returned from Poland and are more or less tolerated, bears crossing the Alps into Bavaria are however shot on sight... I really can't understand why?

    On the other hand, once an animal population reaches a certain size it can become a pest and I'm speaking from experience. Back home in the Sauerland religion (the forests you see on a map of Germany south of Dortmund) wild boars have become a pest. Due to very strict hunting regulations they managed to grow unchecked and are wreaking havoc to nearby homesteads. In the meantime the regulations have been changed to allow more to be hunted, but it's still really not enough.

    So in conclusion I'd say that as so often in nature you need to find the right balance, in this case between hunting to extinction and not controlling the population growth at all.
  • Dec 6 2011: I know plenty a farmers, not hard to here in England since there are so many rural areas. Some of them secure their chicken coops with about 10 pound and some elbow grease. They never have any fox trouble unless the chickens escape. Most fox hunting is done for enjoyment and they claim its "pest elimination" so that it isn't illegal.
  • Dec 6 2011: Simple, monetary gain is more important than the life of another species. If it was the other way, I think the majority or all of the world would become vegetarian. Sometimes you have yo weigh out the costs and the benefits. If a farmer is having his pest eliminated by these fox hunters for free. Then why would they want to spend money on keeping their chickens safe?

    It would make little sense if you look from their perspective. They're trying to make as much money as they can from their livestock. The foxes are hurting that, but at the same time, the hunters are helping to limit the issue. Besides, I think foxes constitute as cute enough animals for the WWF to step in if things ever went too far.
  • Dec 2 2011: Without our interferance nature would be in perfect balance, animals would kill and be killed. I don't see it as a sport when the odds are clearly stacked against the fox, so much so thet people cheat by blocking thier dens and using dogs. Try to hunt a fox without those and I bet it would be pretty hard. I'm against the senseless killing of our wildlife and would prefer to photograph instead.
  • Nov 30 2011: As a sport, or for someones personal pleasure I'm against it. I don't feel it to be right to kill anything for entertainment. However, as mentioned prior, there could be situations where they are seen as pests and in such a case, I would think about some analysis on how it is affecting the environment and the people in the area.

    If there is a situation in where the population of foxes, or any other 'pest' is at a stage where it is harming other parts of the environment, I would think culling would help maintain the balance. As long as it's controlled and done in a less displeasing manner I'm fine with it.
    • Nov 30 2011: The problem here being that the foxes aren't harming the environment. The problem here, as I see it, is that the worst a fox has done is to go into a chicken coop and enjoy itself a free meal. Foxes have families too, as you are aware, and I am quite sure going to get food for said family is easier in a chicken coop than hunting one out in the wild.
      • Dec 3 2011: but you see, there is more of an effect than you realise. If the fox is killing chickens in farmers coops, then that has a damaging effect on the chickens, which in turn would affect the farmer, assuming he has no other main source of income. Now, if you think of this on a larger scale, if there are more foxes, it's safe to assume more coops would be raided. When this occurs, there will most likely be a growth in the fox population, thus causing more of an issue as foxes associate the coops as food sources.

        If you begin to look at the risk of keeping chickens then, I would assume farmers would either expect raised prices, as protecting chickens would come at a greater cost. Or worse still, not keep chickens, which would harm both foxes, and the agricultural industry.

        Personally, I'd much prefer to shell out an extra pound or two for better protection on chickens, but then that would cause quite a big issue in all the industries which use chicken or chicken based products.
        • Dec 4 2011: See, that's what I don't get. Why not spend a bit extra to protect the coop instead of killing living creatures? The world to me seems a bit backwards someimes.
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    Nov 30 2011: Fox is always reflected as a bad animal even in childhood stories which is entirely twisted because in eco-system every species one way or a another depends on other species to reproduce and survive. So if you start shootnig fox you would change so many other things in later stages.
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    Nov 30 2011: I don't like hunting for sport, especially scenarios as you have described. I am O.K., however, with the ethical hunter that does not take a shot unless it's a sure shot and eats the prey. I prefer the archer, who it seems to me, is on a more equal footing with the prey.
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    Nov 29 2011: They remove so-called pests, but in doing so they remove precious predators to other pests, which are not fun to hunt.
    So the pest thing is no valid reason. They just like the horses, the dogs, the outfits, the horns...

    I'd be lying if I said hunting animals, or violence, wasn't something I found quite exciting. So I understand, though I wish they had more productive ways of seeking this excitement.
    • Nov 30 2011: But what is it you define a pest as?
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        Dec 1 2011: A pest is a species that is successfully spreading at the expense of human comfort.
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    Nov 29 2011: I'd rather say it's outdated...
    As for animals & suffering: better not to fox hunt in such a case. But what about fishing? and eating meat... or hunting in general... be consequential when you judge others

    I don't really mind some kind of folklore that still has some cruel elements...
    Maybe man hunting (for sports, not with killing) who are dressed up as fox might be more fun...
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      Nov 29 2011: Excellent idea Christophe!! "Maybe man hunting (for sports, not with killing) who are dressed up as fox might be more fun.." This would definitely be fun ONLY when the fox hunters and all those supporting this, would be dressed up as fox. Now that would inspire me to join this "sport"!!
    • Nov 29 2011: I am fine with things such as fishing so long as it is either released unharmed or eaten. The problem with fox hunting is that they take the pelt for either sales or a trophy then leave the body to rot, assuming they even use anything at all! As for this man-fox-hunt; I have to say that no one would ever do this because the people doing this claim that it is the eradication of a pest.
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        Nov 30 2011: Fox-meat is probably not very tasty...

        Foxes can be a nuisance for some people, and areas where they are protected sometimes cause a population growth that the locals tend to dislike... (Especially those with chickens or small stock animals).
        Hunting can sometimes keep a population in balance, so there might be some valid reasons to eliminate a few. The way of doing this... might give objections. I guess the traditional (cruel) way is probably more fun than shooting them with tranquilizing darts and killing them softly...

        I do however feel like playing the devil's advocate here... On one hand, I'm not interesting in participating in such a practice, on the other hand, I don't consider it the worst mischief of the world... goose-riding (ripping of the head of life gees, now done with dead gees) is a local tradition where I live, and the Toreador in Spain also kill the bull in a rather cruel way, and dog and rooster fights still exist too.
        We don't have gladiator games anymore, but sports have replaced that.
        We humans have a cruel side, and we need some way to live it out... (though a placebo is often the better way to deal with it)
        Dog races have a fake rabbit or hare now too...
        Sport fishers indeed throw back the fish (though some fish get harmed or die in the process... and I imagine a pierced lip instead of a snack is an unpleasant surprise)

        I think the fox hunting tradition is a dying one anyway... not supporting it will probably help in it's demise (as well as protesting, though banning it would be a bit radical)
        • Nov 30 2011: But are humans not a worse nuisance than foxes? I find that killing something simply because you dislike its existence, even if only in a certain area, is not only inhumane but also hypocritical! What makes it worse is when you realise that they are only a pest because of us. We encroach on their land and build over their homes. They have simply adapted to "live with us" by using our easy meals as their own. If I converted your house to a KFC when you were gone one week but you still had the key I'm fairly sure you'd sneak in the back to steal some food when you got hungry while you took up the inevitable lawsuit. Only difference is animals don't get lawyers.
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        Nov 30 2011: If humans are a worse nuisance, You are talking about yourself as well...

        I do kill mosquitoes for disliking their existence... though their consciousness is obviously more limited than vertebrates.

        As for killing: I would recommend everybody who eats meat, to at least kill one of those beasts yourself (preferably after raising them first)... you'll learn a lot!
        As for taking over: we are part of nature and no species cares for the habitat of others... as a matter of fact, humans are the only ones who do. Look at the fox population in England: after a big decline up into the 80ies, it started to grow again due to environmental issues.

        to conclude: in an ideal society; we would be less cruel. We wouldn't be human (as we know it) anymore though. If you really want to go for the eradication of fox hunting: go for it! protest, organize petitions, reason people out of it, talk to the hunters, vote for the person who is willing to push it on the political agenda,...
        • Nov 30 2011: I admit that I am worse than a fox.

          I too kill mosquitoes! More, however, on the base that they can kill me with diseases they carry over the simplicity that they are a pest.

          Yes, every species does want control. But think about this: We're the only species killing every other species at once. Through pollution we are literally killing our own world. You even go on to claim that if we didn't kill things we'd lose our humanity. Why, then, can we not kill each other? Were I to kill an animal against the law I may get a sentence from a month to a few years. Whereas if I killed a human I'd be jailed for years. If you support cruelty and killing instinct in humans you must also denounce the current crime system we have.
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        Nov 30 2011: Think killing each other poses more of a danger than killing other species... some clear border there.

        I'm not implying to revert to barbary... Nor do I support cruelty, but I can somewhat understand that some people do need to vent it in order to prevent worse from happening.
        Anyway. I'm not going to defend those hunters, they should defend themselves. I tried to give some arguments that might make you think with some more nuances.

        I do value the life of a person more than the life of an animal (well, I can think of exceptions)
        • Nov 30 2011: I unfortunately value the life of a human over that of an animal, but I believe that to simply be the fact that I can relate to another human at the core of his or her being. I understand that I did go to extremes in a number of example but I believe you'll have noticed how that was necessary to convey my point. And even though you may not think so, your arguments have gotten through. I understand the viewpoint of some hunters and the reasoning behind the general act. I just don't support it and especially not the way it is done.