The first ever scientific study into the use of dogs to hunt foxes in the UK, published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, concludes that the law in England and Wales makes controlling foxes less effective and imposes a longer duration of pursuit on them than Scottish legislation.
The study was commissioned by the Federation of Welsh Farmers (FWF) and carried out in Scotland where the use of any number of dogs to flush and shoot foxes remains legal, comparing the use of packs of hounds to the use of two dogs as required by the law in England and Wales.
FWF Secretary, David Thomas, said: “The law as it stands in England and Wales is completely indefensible. Farmers’ packs were developed for the sole purpose of controlling foxes to limit the predation of lambs using the only practical method in a mountainous region with huge expanses of commercial forestry. The limit of two dogs was plucked out of nowhere. There is no evidence or logical justification for it.
Anti-hunting organisations have even admitted that: “pairs of dogs are utterly useless in flushing to guns”. The Conservative government brought forward proposals to amend the Hunting Act in 2015 to remove the limit on the number of dogs that can used to find and flush foxes. Under current hunting legislation they are restricted to using two dogs to attempt to flush foxes including from some of the largest commercial forestry plantations in the UK.
Tim Bonner, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, which supports the FWFP call for a change in the law, said: “We are in a ridiculous situation where everyone knows the law has failed, there is peer reviewed science which proves that it is both inefficient and increases the duration of pursuit of foxes, and yet political prejudice continues to block change.”’