Below is a copy of a letter sent to various organisations/individuals requesting the submission of written evidence:
If you have any factual evidence that might be of help to the Inquiry please contact us.
COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY
INTO HUNTING WITH DOGS
P.O Box 31010, London, SW1H 9ZL
Telephone: 0207 960 6014 – Fax: 0207 960 6186
Chairman : Lord Burns
19 January 2000 (covering revised request for written evidence)
I am writing to invite you to submit written evidence to the Committee of Inquiry.
The Inquiry’s terms of reference are:
"To inquire into:
the practical aspects of different types of hunting with dogs and its impact on the rural economy, agriculture and pest control, the social and cultural life of the countryside, the management and conservation of wildlife, and animal welfare in particular areas of England and Wales;
the consequences for these issues of any ban on hunting with dogs; and
how any ban might be implemented.
To report the findings to the Secretary of State for the Home Department".
The Committee is expected to report to the Home Secretary by the end of May 2000.
The Home Secretary has indicated that he intends the Committee to focus on hunting with dogs of deer, foxes, hares and mink. The Committee does not regard this as including the use of dogs to retrieve dead or injured quarry.
The Members of the Committee are:
Lord Burns (Chairman)
Dr Victoria Edwards
Professor Sir John Marsh
Professor Lord Soulsby
Professor Michael Winter
The Committee would welcome written evidence on any matters falling within its terms of reference. Please note, however, that the Committee has not been asked to consider whether hunting with dogs should be banned. Nor has it been asked to consider ethical issues. Accordingly, the Committee would like written submissions to focus on factual evidence and analysis relating to the impact of hunting with dogs, or of a ban on hunting, on the various issues which it has been asked to address. Evidence concerning regional or local variations would be welcome. You may find it helpful to structure your responses around the questions in the attached note, although you should not feel obliged to respond to every question.
In addition to seeking written evidence the Committee plans to:
Commission individuals/organisations to gather information on its behalf on various topics. The results would then be shared more widely with a view to reaching as much agreement as possible on the facts. At present the Committee envisages commissioning work on the following topics: descriptions of hunting activities; practice in other countries; the rural economy; social and cultural life of the countryside; agriculture and wildlife; pest control/population management; animal welfare; and drag and bloodhound hunting.
Make visits in order to observe hunting activities.
Provide an opportunity for members of the public to express their views.
Take oral evidence once it has considered written submissions.
It would be very helpful if evidence could be sent by e-mail to :
email@example.com. If you wish to submit evidence on disc, please save the information as a Microsoft Word document or as a text file before submission. We are also happy to receive documents in HTML, RTF and PDF formats. If you wish to submit evidence on paper, please write to me at the above address.
The Committee envisages making some or all of the written evidence publicly available, including placing some evidence on its website. Please make clear if you do not wish your evidence to be made publicly available or if you would only be content for this to be done anonymously.
Please submit any written evidence by 21 February 2000.
REQUEST FOR WRITTEN EVIDENCE (Revised 28 January 2000)
Facts about hunting with dogs
A number of descriptions have been published of hunting activities. While there is a substantial measure of agreement about what happens in the course of these activities, there is sometimes disagreement over particular issues such as the length of the chase or the frequency and nature of kills.
1. What factual information do you have about hunting with dogs, including the organisation of hunting activities and the way those activities are carried out?
There has been much debate about the significance of hunting to the rural economy. A report by Cobham Resource Consultants in 1997 estimated that all forms of hunting wild mammals in Great Britain generated expenditure of £302 million and some 22,950 jobs (or 'full time equivalents') in total. A later study by the Produce Studies Group estimated that £243 million was spent on fox hunting in Great Britain and that this supported some 16,000 full-time jobs or equivalents (FTEs). One particular benefit for farmers lay in the role of hunts in disposing of fallen livestock. Other studies, such as one conducted at Newcastle University, have pointed out how the jobs directly sustained by hunt providers are generally estimated to amount to under 1,000 FTEs and have questioned whether all hunting-related jobs would automatically be lost following a ban.
The Committee is arranging separately for factual information and analysis to be prepared on its behalf on the employment and expenditure associated with hunting with dogs and on the likely effects of a ban.Questions
2. What evidence is there as to the importance or otherwise of hunting with dogs to the rural economy in general and /or to particular areas of England and Wales?
3. What evidence is there about the likely impact on the rural economy if hunting with dogs was banned completely?
4. To what extent could any detrimental consequences of a ban be offset by greater participation in drag or bloodhound hunting or other activities or by other measures?
Agriculture and Pest Control
There is disagreement about whether, and if so to what extent, it is necessary to exercise some form of population management of foxes, deer, hares and mink, either in the interests of the species themselves or in order to prevent damage to agricultural interests. In the case of foxes, it is argued that the need is greatest in sheep rearing upland areas, where foxes are said to account for a small, but economically significant, number of lambs and on estates where game birds are reared. On the other hand, foxes as predators of animals such as rabbits, rats, voles and mice can also be helpful to the farmer. In the case of deer, it is said that there is a need for a certain amount of culling to reduce damage to crops and young trees. Similarly, in respect of hares, it is argued that it is necessary in some areas for numbers to be reduced from time to time to minimize crop damage. Mink can cause considerable damage to poultry and wildlife.
In addition, there is an issue about whether hunting with dogs is an acceptable or effective means of achieving any necessary population management, in comparison with other possible forms of control (e.g. shooting).
5. What evidence is there about the need to control the population of foxes, deer, hares and mink?
6. What evidence is there about the advantages and disadvantages of hunting with dogs in terms of agriculture and pest control, compared with other possible forms of control?
7. What evidence is there about the consequences for agriculture and pest control if hunting with dogs was banned completely?
8. What other measures, if any, would need to be taken to protect agricultural interests and to control foxes, deer, mink and hares?
Social and Cultural Life of the Countryside
In addition to the economic aspects of hunting with dogs it is necessary to consider
other possible effects on "the rural way of life". These include the importance or otherwise of hunting in sustaining horse riding and other equestrian activities; the extent to which hunting and related activities provide a focal point for rural communities, encouraging social cohesion and preventing isolation; the extent to which, conversely, hunting may produce tensions in local communities and may lead those opposed to it to feel excluded from local social and cultural activities; the importance or otherwise of hunting in helping to preserve local amenities such as village halls and pubs; and how much importance participants and followers attach to hunting as a pastime. In relation to all of these one needs to consider what would happen if hunting with dogs was banned.
9. In what ways, and to what extent, does the existence of hunting with dogs contribute to or impair the social and cultural life of the countryside?
10. What evidence is there as to its importance generally or in particular areas?
Management and Conservation of Wildlife
An issue here is whether, and if so to what extent, conservation of the present landscape and wildlife habitat (such as coppices and hedgerows) is encouraged by the various forms of hunting with dogs. It is sometimes suggested that, if fox and deer hunting were banned, farmers would be less likely to tolerate these animals on their land and might be less willing to conserve relevant habitats. A supporting argument is that they might also wish to deter poachers and other unwelcome groups. On the other hand, it can be argued that hunting with dogs causes damage and disturbance in the countryside.
Another issue – which overlaps with the earlier discussion of "agriculture and pest control" – is the importance or otherwise of hunting in managing the population of foxes, deer, hares and mink and also in improving the quality of the breeding stock through weeding out weaker individuals. A similar overlap occurs with the issue of the indirect impact of hunting on the animals preyed on by foxes.
11. What evidence is there about the present effect of hunting with dogs on preserving or damaging habitats and on the management and conservation of wildlife, including the quarry species?
12. What would be the impact on these matters of a ban?
Because of the specialist knowledge required the Committee intends to commission work to review existing available evidence on the effects of hunting with dogs on the welfare of the quarry species, including comparisons with other methods of control. The results will be shared with interested organisations and individuals with a view to achieving as much consensus as possible on the facts and the inferences which can reliably be drawn from them.
The Committee would nevertheless welcome, in the meantime, any evidence on these issues which groups or individuals may care to submit.
13. What evidence is there at present about the effect of hunting with dogs on the welfare of the quarry species or on the welfare of other animals, including those used in hunting activities and domestic pets and farm animals which may be affected accidentally?
14. What evidence is there about the impact on the welfare of animals of other means of control which might be used if hunting with dogs was banned?
Implementing a ban
The Committee has been asked to consider how any ban on hunting with dogs might be implemented. Some of the issues which the Committee will need to address, therefore, are the possible forms which a ban might take, how it might be applied and enforced and whether a ban might need to be supported by any other action (e.g. to encourage other activities such as drag and bloodhound hunting or to compensate hunts).
15. What form(s) might a ban take and what would be the implications?
16. How might such a ban be applied and enforced?
17. Would a ban need to be supported by any other action?
(Revised version 28 January 2000)
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