Fox hunting another battleground in U.K. general election

, USA TODAYPublished 6:05 a.m. ET June 7, 2017

LONDON — One of the sleeper issues in the United Kingdom’s parliamentary election Thursday is the future of that most iconic British tradition: the fox hunt.

The image of red-coated riders — bugles blaring, hounds barking, steeds galloping through the lush countryside — is familiar around the world. Tally-ho! Trouble is, chasing actual foxes was banned more than a decade ago because of a campaign by animal-rights activists.

Now, traditionalists are lobbying to bring back the real thing, and they have an advocate in Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Conservative Party hopes to defeat the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who called fox hunting a “barbarity” and vowed to keep it outlawed.

Hunting foxes with more than two dogs was banned in England and Wales in 2004 by the then-Labour government, with the measure going into effect in 2005. Hunters and their dogs instead could follow a trail of fox urine. May has pledged to hold a vote in Parliament on overturning the ban.

Animal rights groups also were infuriated when May said last month that she supports using real foxes again. “I was brought up in the countryside and yes, I do support fox hunting,” she said.

The Labour Party is urging people to sign a petition against overturning the ban.

Emily Whitfield-Wicks, 47, a photographer from Cornwall in southwestern England, where fox hunting is popular, said overturning the ban is “completely and utterly unnecessary.” She said the hunters keep their tradition alive with the hounds following a trail. She said foxes are still killed in order to get urine for the trails from their bladders.

“It’s just inhumane. They (the dogs) get to the fox and they rip it apart and that’s a horrible, horrendous way to die,” she said.

The Countryside Alliance, which promotes rural issues, said a near record 250,000 people attended last year’s Boxing Day hunts traditionally held the day after Christmas. That was despite a poll in September showing 84% of voters believe fox hunting should not become legal again.

Animal-rights advocates said more than 4,000 people marched in central London late last month, calling on May to keep fox hunting illegal, although the Countryside Alliance contests that figure.

A poll this month by market research firm Survation said half of voters were less likely to vote for a candidate who wanted a return to fox hunting, and 67% of voters believe it should remain banned.

Polly Portwin, a spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance, said foxes have no natural predators and are considered a pest in rural areas, killing lambs, chickens and other animals.

“We don’t believe it’s a good law,” she said of the Hunting Act 2004. “There are things about it that don’t make a lot of sense. For example you can chase a fox with two dogs, but you can’t chase it with three.”

She said the law allows shooting and snaring animals, methods she says are “far more cruel,” than hunting with dogs. With shooting and trapping, animals can be maimed and suffer a slow, agonizing death, Portwin said.

“Hunting has become one of the big issues in this election, and it is now clear that it is an extremely toxic one for any pro-hunt candidate,” said Eduardo Goncalves, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, a British animal welfare charity.

The politicians need to hear from us LOUD & CLEAR – we will NOT vote for more animal abuse & cruelty. RT to stand up for animals

Goncalves said the group estimates an average of 16,000 incidents of illegal hunting occur each year since the ban began. The argument that fox hunting has anything to do with animal control is “a ruse,” he said.

“The reality is that fox hunts actually capture and raise foxes so they always have foxes to chase,” he said. “Foxes are not pests as they substantially help the rural economy by predating on rabbits, which in some places may cause agricultural damage.”

The Farmers Union of Wales is also calling for an end to the hunting ban. Wyn Jones, a farmer in Wales, said 114 of his lambs have been killed by foxes over the past four years, according to the Farmer’s Guardian.

“Those who dismiss this evidence and argue against a change … demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice animal welfare and the incomes of hard-working people,” Glyn Roberts, the union’s president, said in a statement.


Hunting poll: Do you agree with May that fox hunting should be legal?

PUBLISHED: 11:13 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:31 10 May 2017

Should fox hunting be legalised?

Should fox hunting be legalised?

A win for the Tories team could be bad news for foxes as the PM pledges a free vote to overturn hunting ban.

Theresa May has outraged animal lovers with a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning the ban on fox hunting.

The Prime Minister said she was in favour of the outlawed activity but MPs would be given the final say.

David Cameron had promised to put the divisive issue to Parliament but did not go ahead with the plan due to a lack of support.

During a visit to a factory in Leeds, May said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against.

“As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote.

“It would allow Parliament the opportunity to take the decision on this.”

Should fox hunting be legalised?Should fox hunting be legalised?

Animal welfare campaigners criticised the move, pointing to a survey last year which revealed 84% of people were opposed to making fox hunting legal again.

David Bowles, head of public affairs for the RSPCA, said the Hunting Act had proved to be a useful piece of the legislative framework protecting wildlife in England and Wales.

“Fox hunting is a barbaric and brutal practice that has no place in civilised society.

“The Hunting Act was introduced to end the suffering caused to wild animals by chasing and killing them with a pack of hounds.

“Other blood sports such as dog fighting and cockfighting have been consigned to history and nobody is pushing for those to be legalised. Why should the hunting of Britain’s wild mammals be treated any differently?” he said.

League Against Cruel Sports chief executive Eduardo Goncalves said: “Britain’s voters have been waiting to hear what the next government will be doing on key issues like the NHS, education and Brexit.

“It’s a shame that Parliamentary time will be spent on trying to make fox hunting legal again.

“Are we really going to turn the clock back to a time when killing animals for fun was legal?

“I’m sure many current and future MPs of all colours feel the same way, so we hope they stand up and be counted when the time comes.”

Scotland’s farmed salmon industry stinks

23 Feb 2017 | Joanna Blythman

Scotland’s salmon farming industry is being eaten away by sea lice, the parasite that stalks large concentrations of farmed fish. Latest figures from Marine Harvest, the Norwegian multinational that owns most of the Scottish ‘farms’, show that despite its self-styled reputation as a clean, green country, Scotland has by far the worst sea lice problem of any producer nation. In 2014, 28% of sites were affected; by 2015 that figure had jumped to 49%. Equivalent levels on Norwegian and Irish farms were 5% and 18% respectively.

No technical fix can control Scotland’s now endemic lice, not even dosing every tonne of fish with 42 litres of hydrogen peroxide. The Thermolicer, a machine that immerses fish briefly in warm water, was presented as a solution until last year, when it cooked to death 95,000 fish in one incident. And no wonder lice are having a field day. These caged fish are already weakened by endemic amoebic gill disease, which generous doses of antibiotics barely contain.

Any image of Scottish aquaculture as a job-creating cottage industry has been washed away. Its business story is poor also. Politicians once cited the 6,000 jobs it sustained directly, but the true figure now stands at 2,200. Reduced output, combined with a hefty bill for drugs and chemicals, is making the industry less profitable, yet pushing up prices.

The gloss is off the Scottish salmon brand. Fewer and fewer aspiring restaurants put farmed salmon on their menu. Its image is dull at best, highly contentious at worst, and because it’s so flabby and oily, even the best chefs toil to make something of it.

Yet Fergus Ewing, the Scottish secretary for the rural economy, backs the Norwegian salmon industry’s plan to double its business in Scotland by 2030. And the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency is considering proposals to site the world’s biggest salmon farm in Orkney or Shetland, even though by its own calculation, the faecal waste from the two million-fish mega-farm would be equivalent to the sewage from a city the size of Glasgow.

It’s time for politicians to learn from experience. Scotland is already mired into dirty salmon farming. Don’t make matters worse by going in any deeper.

Joanna Blythman is a journalist and author of Swallow This

Fergus Ewing: Don’t sacrifice ‘free range’ to avian flu

A chicken farm in Strathkinness, Fife. Photograph: Carl De Souza/Getty

A chicken farm in Strathkinness, Fife. Photograph: Carl De Souza/Getty

Anyone buying eggs over the past few weeks might have noticed stickers and posters in stores explaining that free range hens have been temporarily housed in barns for their own protection.

This step was first taken in December, when I announced – along with Defra and the Welsh government – an avian influenza Prevention Zone in response to a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 sweeping across Europe. Since then the virus has only been confirmed in a single wild bird in Scotland, a peregrine falcon found near Dumfries. However there have been ten confirmed cases in domestic birds in England and Wales, and numerous wild bird findings across the UK.

I want to reassure you that the strain of avian influenza we are seeing this winter does not affect humans, and the clear advice from experts is that there is no health risk from eating eggs or poultry meat.

We know from previous outbreaks the devastating impact that avian influenza can have on our poultry industry. That is why the decision made in December to house birds, to help protect them from infection by migratory wild birds, was the right choice and received backing from the industry. EU law allows eggs from birds kept indoors due to veterinary restrictions to continue to be sold as free range for up to 12 weeks. This 12-week period ended on 28 February. That is why retailers are now informing consumers about the status of their eggs.

Free range is a Scottish success story. Roughly half of all chicken eggs laid in Scotland come from free range birds. The two largest free range egg production units in Europe are located near Peebles, with free range eggs estimated to be worth £46 million to Scottish farming last year. Clearly, it is in our best interests to ensure that this thriving industry is protected at this difficult time.

My officials and I have been in close contact with key poultry industry representatives throughout the current European outbreak, to ensure that protection measures in Scotland remain practicable and proportionate.

That is why, on 28 February, we changed the requirements of the avian influenza Prevention Zone in Scotland to allow birds to be let outside again under enhanced biosecurity.

Biosecurity is the suite of steps that can be taken to prevent disease from entering or spreading on your premises – such as disinfecting footwear and equipment, and keeping wild birds away from outdoor areas.

You may also have heard about “higher risk areas”, such as those near bodies of water, where birds must continue to be housed. These only apply in England. It is our view, informed by the best scientific advice, that all of Scotland is subject to the same level of risk, and therefore the same restrictions should apply to all bird keepers, regardless of where they live.

Scottish keepers now have the choice of either letting their birds outside again, under enhanced biosecurity, or to continue to keep them indoors. Birds which continue to be kept indoors will no longer qualify as free range under EU law, however. It is a commercial decision for each individual farmer.

Prior to the zone changing, I wrote to the major supermarkets to explain the situation in Scotland, and to make it clear that Scottish farmers will have the option to continue to provide free range poultry products for consumers. I was clear that, as long as Scottish farmers continue to produce free range eggs, these should be made available to consumers and clearly labelled as such. It would be unhelpful for the free range provenance of many Scottish eggs to be hidden from consumers’ view because of a UK-wide marketing approach which does not make the differences clear across our countries.

The avian influenza Prevention Zone will continue to apply in Scotland until the end of April, when we will reassess the risk and consider whether further restrictions are necessary. I am grateful for the continued support and understanding of both producers and consumers during this challenging period. And I would encourage everyone to keep buying Scottish eggs and chicken.

Countryside braced for renewed badger cull protests

With the culling of badgers set to be extended to Dorset farmers are braced for further confrontations with animal rights activists


In Somerset, 341 badgers were culled last year

In Somerset, 341 badgers were culled last year Photo: Alamy

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Farmers have pledged to stand up to intimidation from animal rights extremists who are threatening a major campaign of disorder to sabotage the planned extension of the controversial badger cull.

Militant groups say plans to extend the cull from Somerset and Gloucestershire into Dorset will make it easier for them to mobilise hundreds of activists from across south east England to confront farmers and contractors who carry out the shooting and trapping of badgers.

The threat comes as farmers urged the Government to extend the cull as a matter of urgency in a bid to tackle the continuing spread of bovine tuberculosis from badgers to dairy cattle herds in south west England.

Farmers in Dorset have applied to Natural England for the cull to be extended to their country to tackle what they describe as a “desperate situation”. It is understood that farmers in Devon and Cornwall have also applied for culling licences.

More than 15,000 cattle were slaughtered because of bovine TB across the South West last year and at the same time more than 2,200 herds that had previously been clear of the disease were affected by it.

Speculation is growing that Natural England could give permission for culling could start in Dorset as soon as the end of the summer or start of autumn, though it says it will not “give a running commentary” on culling licence applications.

However, David Cameron made it clear only last month that the Government regards culling as “absolutely the right thing to do” and the new cull is expected to be given the go-ahead.

Trevor Cligg, the chairman of the National Farmers Union in Dorset, said: “Without expanding the cull into Dorset and all the other areas where bTB is endemic we are not going to beat this disease. We can take all the cattle control – and we should – and vaccination has a part to play but in itself it won’t be enough.”

Read More:

Sea Shepherd UK Offers Reward for Conviction of Anyone Illegally Killing Iconic Scottish Seals

This article was originally written and published by Sea Shepherd UK

Sea Shepherd UK is offering a £5000 reward for photographic or video evidence leading to the successful prosecution of employees, representatives, contractors or agents of the Scottish Wild Salmon Company (AKA – Usan Salmon Fisheries Limited) or any companies or individuals for illegally killing iconic Scottish seals.

Scottish Wild Salmon Company employees with firearm used for shooting seals at Gardenstown Harbour - April 2014Scottish Wild Salmon Company employees with firearm used for shooting seals at Gardenstown Harbour – April 2014Sea Shepherd UK is currently engaged in our Scottish Seal Defence Campaign based near Banff in Aberdeenshire. We are extremely pleased that the Scottish Wild Salmon Company has announced that they are currently not taking out firearms in order to shoot seals in Gamrie Bay, this is solely due to the presence of our campaign crew who have been monitoring their activities to ensure that no seals are killed. However, the Scottish Wild Salmon Company needs to understand that Sea Shepherd is relentless in its mission to defend ocean wildlife, and we will extend our Scottish Seal Defence Campaign for as long as the seals need protection.

The government of Scotland provides companies, including the Scottish Wild Salmon Company, with licenses to kill seals. However, the legislation requires that seals may only be shot as a last resort after all other methods of control have been applied. The actions of the fishing companies themselves are attracting seals to the salmon. Seals in this particular area do not typically eat salmon, but are being drawn by the large catches of salmon trapped in nets.

Scottish Wild Salmon Company has a non-lethal solution available for us in the form of Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs), and they have recently announced they will now rely on ADDs at other Salmon netting sites.  Unfortunately, bullets are always cheaper and easier than non-lethal alternatives. Although shooting seals in Gamrie bay is currently suspended due to Sea Shepherd UK’s monitoring and patrols – the shooting of seals could return if we were to leave (which we have no intention of doing).

Why does it take policing by an NGO to make companies do the right thing under the law? Without effective policing by Marine Scotland (the agency responsible for the seal killing licenses), it is left to Sea Shepherd to once again uphold national and international laws which governments neither cannot, nor will not enforce.

David Scott, Director of Sea Shepherd UK stated, “Since the Scottish seal cull resumed in January 2011, Usan Salmon Fisheries Ltd has slaughtered more seals than any other firm holding licences to kill these wonderfully friendly and inquisitive animals. The damage they are doing to Scotland’s reputation as a world leading eco-tourism destination cannot be overstated. The damage to the local seal population is evident for all to see.”

Seal which washed up on Gardenstown Beach after being shot by the Scottish Wild Salmon Company in 2013Seal which washed up on Gardenstown Beach after being shot by the Scottish Wild Salmon Company in 2013The Scottish people recently voted for the seals to be one of Scotland’s Big 5 iconic species, and by needlessly slaughtering beautiful Scottish seals the Scottish Wild Salmon Company is damaging Scotland’s image around the world.

The only course of action for the Scottish Wild Salmon Company is to immediately relinquish their seal killing licences and publically announce that they are now a seal-friendly company.

 In order to qualify for any Sea Shepherd reward, the information or evidence provided must directly lead to the apprehension and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the crime and the case for which information is supplied must still be open with the appropriate authorities. Law enforcement officers (and any persons who obtain such information by way of their occupation) are not eligible for Sea Shepherd rewards.

To encourage local residents to help defend their seals – Sea Shepherd UK is also offering £100 for new (taken after 27th April 2014) clear images or video of the Scottish Wild Salmon Company shooting seals within their current licence conditions in Gamrie Bay.

To submit information or evidence on the illegal killing of seals by the Scottish Wild Salmon Company or any other company or individuals – please e-mail Sea Shepherd UK’s campaign crew at: including as many details, clear photographs and video as possible.

Badger cull called off in Gloucestershire

Pilot cull to end earlier than planned after Natural England revokes license

The Guardian,              Friday 29 November 2013

Badger cull ends

The collapse of the badger culling trial in Gloucestershire represents a humiliation for the government’s policy on reducing bovine TB. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

The controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire is being abandoned after  marksmen failed to kill enough animals to meet even drastically reduced targets, the Guardian revealed on Friday.

The collapse of the culling trial represents a humiliation for the government’s policy as it means every target set has now been missed.

Natural England (NE) will revoke the culling licence and the cull will end at noon on Saturday, three weeks earlier than planned. The cull, intended to help curb tuberculosis in cattle, was initially tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.

More of this Story:

POLL: Should the Slaughter of Grouse be allowed to continue?

Please vote (No) here and circulate widely:

Aug12, 2013

Today is the “Glorious Twelth”, a day when according to tradition hunting enthusiasts gather on moors in Scotland and the north of England to shoot Grouse. Proponents will tell you that that this is an important British tradition. They will also argue that it is good for Britain’s economy by attracting tourists, providing jobs for thousands of people and generating several £100 millions annually .

Eight Reasons to Oppose Grouse Shooting:
1.Killing birds for sport is cruel and uncivilised. [Say no more!]
2.A large number of native birds and mammals who interfere with grouse shooting are trapped, poisoned or snared. Victims include stoats, weasels, and even iconic raptors such as hen harriers, red kites and golden eagles.
3.An unnatural, heather-rich environment is created because the grouse thrive on young heather shoots. To create fresh young shoots, the heather is burned, which can harm wildlife and damage the environment.
4.The burning of heather, reports an expert, ‘threatens to release millions of tonnes of carbon locked into the peat bogs underpinning the moors. Where burning occurs, the hydrology changes and the peat is open to decomposition and erosion. This strips the moor of carbon as surely as setting fire to the Amazon Forest.’ (Adrian Yallop,New Scientist magazine, 12 August 2006)
5.The harsh ‘management’ of moorlands causes grouse numbers to boom. But as they overburden the landscape, they become weakened and fall prey to a lethal parasite – Strongylosis. This attacks the gut and leads to a collapse in the population.
6.A cycle of population boom and bust is the norm on Britain’s grouse moors.
7.Large quantities of lead shot are discharged, which is toxic to wildlife.
8.Grouse shooting estates use the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to restrict public access to mountain and moorland.




From people on the scene:



This petition will be delivered to:



Because Badgers have been wrongly blamed for Bovine Tb in Cattle. Farmers want a cull and government have given the go ahead for Badgers to be killed in June 2013,and this will not cure the problem Scientists say. A total of 130,000 are to be slaughtered in the near future. Vaccinate instead.

Stop the Badger Cull, allow badgers to be vaccinated and press forward for a cattle vaccine.
We the under signed agree to Boycott All English Farm Produce , including meat dairy fruit veg and eggs, basically any thing produced by English farmers, in protest against the Badger Cull.

Sincerely, [Your name]