The new ‘hunting season’

hhHorse & Hound magazine can always be relied upon for detailed – though certainly not balanced – coverage of hunting. For example, they’re always quick to report on hunting prosecutions that fail, but never those that succeed and certainly not cases where a hunt supporter is charged with assault or some other violent office.

This week, at the start of the ‘hunting season’ (despite the fact that the last ‘hunting season’ ended on 18th February 2005 when the Hunting Act came into force), Horse & Hound devotes over twenty pages to hunting, and why the ‘sport’ is “stronger than ever”.

As you’d expect, champion whinger Otis Ferry makes a full page photographic appearance next to an article in which he condemns the ‘inhumane, unjust law” which prevents him killing for fun. But poor Otis aside, some of this is actually quite interesting.

The Countryside Alliance have sent a survey to all hunts in order to establish the current levels of hunt support and staffing around the country, and the results appear on page four of the magazine. Choice extracts include:

  • 81% of respondents hunt the same number of days [as before the ban]
  • 86% have the same number of employees or more
  • 93% have as many or more subscribers than they did pre-Hunting Act

These are interesting for several reasons, with two being particularly instructive. Firstly, it demonstrates that the arguments put forward by the hunters and the Countryside Alliance when the ban was being debated in parliament – namely that jobs and the rural economy would suffer – were patently false, as we said they were. We actually said at the time that, if the cruelty was removed from hunting, more people would take part, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The Alliance scaremongering that 16,000 jobs would be at risk if hunting was banned turned out to be nothing more than bluster.

The second point is a question for the Alliance and their friends, and really gets to the crux of the matter. If hunting is more popular now than ever before, why on earth repeal the Hunting Act?

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