Representation Panel Chairman
William Swann Veterinary Consultant
Douglas Batchelor LACS Chairman
Colin Booty RSPCA Senior Wildlife Officer
Mike Huskisson LACS monitor
David Coulthread LACS Head of Public Affairs
Kevin Hill IFAW monitor
THE CHAIRMAN: Welcome back, and thank you for coming today to give evidence. You will have seen the form that we have followed during the first session. We propose to follow a similar pattern during this session. I would like to ask you whether you have any opening statement that you would like to make, Mr Swan?
MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns, yes, I do. Would you like to proceed with that now?
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, please.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, my Lord, Members of the Committee. Hunting with dogs is cruel. It is indicative of the strength of feeling caused by this issue that three organisations with differing core activities, the RSPCA, IFAW and the League Against Cruel Sports, joined together to form the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals. This group opposes hunting with dogs because of the cruelty involved. This is not an issue of town verses country. It is not an issue of urban dweller verses rural dweller. Nor has it anything to do with class or privilege. The supporters of hunting have cynically introduced these irrelevancies to divert the issue from the indefensible to the arguable. I say cynical because the supporters of hunting have mounted a campaign of misinformation to try to deceive the rural population into believing that massive job losses would follow a ban on hunting. Sean Rickard, a leading agricultural economist, whose report was submitted to this inquiry on April 3rd has demonstrated that those fears are largely unfounded. Our organisations do not oppose the culling of wild animals where good reasons to do so exists. Deer are necessarily culled to control their population on welfare grounds and to protect woodland. We agree with the submission from the Ministry of Agriculture that foxes have little impact on lamb mortality, but we also accept their view that foxes can occasionally be a local nuisance. However, whilst acknowledging the need to control foxes as individuals, we do not accept the need, nor indeed do we believe it is practical, to control fox populations. The contingencies for the prevention of rabies in Britain -- which we hope are never required -- make provision for the removal of foxes from the area of an incident, but the advisory group who looked at fox control acknowledged that it is not possible to permanently control the population of an animal with so fast a population recovery capacity. We do not accept that there is a general need to cull hares, which are, in our opinion, in need of the protection of conservation legislation. We are opposed to hunting with dogs because it is unnecessary, and it causes suffering. It may be asked, what is suffering? If I beat a dog with a stick, it will show signs of distress; it will cry out, try to run away or even try to bite me. Its flesh will show histological evidence of damage consistent with that beating. The law accepts that it will suffer. Some might argue that the distress seen is the dog's instinctive response to a particular set of circumstances, and that this instinctive behaviour is invoked if I become the agency of the beating as perhaps it would in some natural incident. However, the dog has the protection of the law because the beating is carried out not by some natural agency but by a human being, subject to the ethical and moral constraints of our society. We are distressed by animal suffering and judge as cruel those who inflict suffering unnecessarily. An animal pursued by a pack of dogs will run away. If the pursuit continues, that animal will show signs of distress. In time, as Professor Bateson has shown, it will develop physiological damage of its tissues. It may similarly be said that it suffers. That the pursued animal is wild is irrelevant. The agency whereby the animal is pursued is human, and moral and ethical judgments which apply to all human activities are relevant. These are not wild encounters. These are acts perpetrated by people, and the hounds are an agency of the huntsman. They are improper acts. I have developed on the point that hunting is cruel and unnecessary because it is fundamental to our presentation. I ask the Committee to note that there is no recognised form of humane killing that makes use of dogs as the agency of killing. If it is necessary to kill foxes, they can be shot humanely by a competent marksman; and that the marksman may need to become competent is unsurprising. A gun is a tool, and no one would suggest taking any modern agricultural device and using it without first becoming fully competent in its use. Deer are culled throughout most of the United Kingdom by shooting. Official guidelines exist to ensure the use of appropriate gun calibres and bullet weights. Deadline 2000, the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals, recognises that hunting has evolved around it a pagentry and ceremony which is part of Britain's cultural heritage. However, it is no longer necessary to go to war to enjoy the pomp and circumstances of our many festivals celebrating Britain's military and colonial past. Hunting can, and will, survive as a sport, but one that does not involve killing animals. In India, as recorded by the history of the Peshwarvale Hunt, and other books, hunts move seemlessly between live quarry hunting and drag hunting as circumstances required. In Germany, where live quarry hunting was banned in the 1930s, drag hunting is practised in a form quite different from the high speed chases characteristic of some of our existing drag hunts. Drag hunting can be -- in the words of a stag Hunter turned drag hunter -- what you make it. We believe that the vast majority of people who hunt do so because they enjoy the ride and enjoy working with hounds. For these people, killing animals is not a necessary part of their enjoyment. Most people involved in hunting are not sadistic. We do not believe that these same people will destroy their horses, or their hounds, in an event of a ban on hunting with dogs. They will convert to drag hunting in a modified form. They will continue, as now, to continue their many and diverse equestrian activities. I wish to quote Peter Carruthers, who is the Professor of Philosophy of Sheffield University, his words: "For those who hunt animals for sport rather than to feed themselves, or to earn a living, do so from motives that must certainly count as trivial in comparison to the suffering they cause. While the pleasures of the hunt need not be directly sadistic, it need not be the suffering of the animal which is the object of enjoyment. They are inseparably bound up with the enjoyment of power and the final domination. "It does seem plausible that those who indulge in such pleasures may be reinforcing aspects of their characters that may make them unfit in various ways for their moral dealings with human beings." Sean Rickard has shown us how few, if indeed any, jobs will be lost in the short to medium term in the event of a ban. We have commissioned our own research, out of a sense of responsibility. The results confirm our view that a ban on hunting will have little impact on the rural economy. Horse ownership in Britain is increasing. Most of the benefits which appear to accrue from hunting actually arise from horse ownership. There is no reason to suppose that horse ownership will decrease in the event of a ban. We acknowledge the local services provided by hunt kennels in disposing of unwanted farm livestock. However, we believe this to be a minor consideration for several reasons. Most, if not all, kennel incinerators have a limited capacity, in the region of 50 kilograms of material per hour. To process as much animal waste as some have claimed would require many years of incinerator time. Also, a revision of the relevant European Directive is likely to have a major impact on hunt kennel knacker facilities. We believe that very few of them will choose to upgrade on economic grounds. We further wish to remark upon the impossibility of regulating live quarry hunting. The hunt havoc data, made available to the Committee, demonstrates that the unpredictabillty of the route taken by the quarry species leads to social disruption and genuine distress to people inadvertently caught up in the progress of a hunt. We will present a case for a total ban on hunting with dogs because it is cruel. But there is a parallel argument based on social disruption. We do not believe that there exists a middle way of regulated hunting. Finally, we draw attention to the precedent established in law that wild animals should be afforded protection from cruelty, as defined in the Wild Mammals Protection Act, 1996. My Lord, Chairman, that completes my opening address. As a product of the rural economy, I was brought up to be economic with words. I would ask your guidance. I now have a brief introduction to the first session. Would you wish me to continue or break?
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I would like you to continue please.
MR SWANN: Thank you, my Lord. In seeking to assist the Committee of Inquiry, I should not wish it to be thought that we do in any way condone some hunting practices as being better or more ethical than others. We oppose all forms of life quarry hunting with dogs because it causes unnecessary suffering. However, we accept that the Committee has a duty to understand hunting practices. We will assist you in gathering factual evidence. Our organisations have a wealth of experience, which includes the inability of huntsman to avoid cruelty. They extend the chase as much as possible, causing distress, unnecessary suffering and, ultimately, physiological damage. We will cite huntsman's own records and our own observations. We will show the inability of huntsman to kill animals humanely. Dogs do not, contrary to what you may be told, kill cleanly in all cases. We will refer to veterinary evidence and studies by UFAW, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. We shall further show the inability of huntsman to control their hounds, or supporters, who continue to cause distress to those inadvertently caught up in the hunt's progress. We have presented recent hunt habit data to the Committee. Finally, we shall show the inability of huntsman to stop unacceptable disturbance of the natural environment. We have here to give evidence hunt followers, who have first-hand experience of artificial earths, stopping-up of earths and (inaudible) and terrier work. Thank you, my Lord.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much for that introduction. We propose to work down the list of issues that we put at the back of the agenda, but it may be quite sensible to begin with the question of the group we put to the Countryside Alliance earlier, about the regulation of hunting, and how far you think that they deal with the complaints that you have, or that you observe. I am not putting any particular point on it. I just invite you to comment on what you have read, in terms of the evidence, and your own experiences of the self-regulation that takes place, and how far you think that is effective.
MR SWANN: Before I pass this question to Douglas Batchelor, I shall make the point that the RSPCA, as the world's leading animal welfare organisation, has not been contacted to offer advice, or to give any input into any regulation procedures that have been proposed. Douglas.
MR BATCHELOR: I would reiterate that same point; that I think the view of most people who are opposed to hunting with dogs is that regulatory bodies so far have been set up by those hunting themselves. They have no faith in those bodies. They do not, by and large, bring any evidence to those bodies. Likewise, we have not been approached in supplying anything for this new body that has been allegedly set up.
THE CHAIRMAN: What is your own experience? Do you have experience yourselves of taking complaints to the various hunt bodies? Do you have anything, any experiences of that type of reports?
MR BATCHELOR: Our experience has been, where possible, that we have assisted people, as have our colleagues in IFAW, taking people to the legal processes where you feel the law has been broken, but we have not had any faith in the self-regulatory processes that have existed in the past.
MR SWANN: I think, my Lord, I may summarise that by saying these organisations have no direct experience of working with the self-regulating bodies.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Can we deal, first of all, with the issue of autumn/cub hunting. Is there any observations that you would like to make about that?
MR SWANN: I am going to pass this over to David Coulthread and to Mike Huskisson. Thank you.
MR HUSKISSON: Good morning, Lord Burns, and Members of the Committee. My experience of some 30 years of following hunts, and observing them at very close quarters, has taught me that cub hunting -- and it is cub hunting; it always has been the hunting term for it, cub hunting -- is done primarily for two purposes; first, to train the new entry of hounds, the young puppies, brought into the pack every year to train them to hunt and pursue and kill the quarry; in most cases, of course, we are talking about the fox. The second purpose is, curiously enough, to train the foxes as well. Hunting people have said to me that the idea was to get good foxes. A lot of the cub hunting that I saw involved the sort of concept of holding up, where the woods, the covers, would be surrounded by a ring of riders, and the hounds put into that cover, because they knew from the landowner that there was a vixen with cubs in the wood; and the purpose being that the hounds would chase the fox, and the cubs in the wood, and anything that tried to break-out they would chase back by shouting at it, banging their crops on the saddles, riding across it, to try to force the young cubs back into the wood; that way to try and guarantee that there would be a kill in the wood, whereby you would have the more experienced hounds who would pile into the fox cubs, and the young hounds would get caught up in the excitement of it as well, and learn what it was about, but any foxes that broke through the ring and got away, they could have brought the hounds out and chased after it and kill it. But the perception which is given to me by the hunting people is that that was a good fox, one that would do for another day, and they would leave.
MR SWANN: My Lord, I think David Coulthread may wish to say a word on this as well.
MR COULTHREAD: Thank you. I would just like to make two points. The first being that the practice of holding up has been investigated by the Committee this morning. But the fact that small copses of woods are surrounded by hunt followers, that young foxes are actually often are beaten back in by blood hounds or whatever, to ensure that they are available for hunting, actually show that the idea of them being involved in dispersal simply is not the purpose of cub hunting; it is actually, in fact, the exact opposite. The second point that has to be made is that people are often concerned about the fate of the young foxes. There is also the matter of the young hounds who may not make the grade as a result of being introduced into the pack. Many of those are also shot as a result of cub hunting.
THE CHAIRMAN: Do you have any evidence in relation to that last point, either in terms of the numbers that are involved, or generally the extent to which that happens?
MR COULTHREAD: We have evidence from a study of the Geoffrey Craghill Memorial Trust, which actually looks at the consequences of closing down a large pack of fox hounds, where they actually talked in terms of the number of hounds bred every year. They reckon an estimate of something like 36 young hounds bred by each pack every year, which works out at about 10,000 hounds bred every year. If the number of hounds is remaining constant at around 20,000 and 10,000 being bred every year, that means that 10,000 hounds are also being disposed of; many of those will be younger hounds.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I actually wanted to go back to an earlier question. I just want to confirm something really; that you had not actually been invited to be involved in any of these self-regulatory activities. Can I just check-up, would that mean that, if you had have been invited, you would have taken part, or would you not wish to take part at all?
MR SWANN: Basically, because of our opposition to hunting, obviously, we would not wish to take part in looking at such issues of how hunting is practised, but these associations have always expressed a considerable willingness to help on matters such as rehoming hounds, in looking for alternative places for them to go, and also helping out with the horses. It is on this side that obviously comes into the regulation process that the societies would have had a non-partisan approach, and would be willing to help, and in fact extend that offer now.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Thank you. I just wanted to clarify where you stood on that issue. That does raise the question posed to us about the number of hounds, and, as it were, maintaining the size of the pack and so on. Two points there, really. One was, is it necessarily the case that those young hounds who are bred but do not enter the packs are necessarily killed, or do they have other destinations open to them? If, in a sense, at that stage they are perhaps less imprinted on hunting than they would have been, had they become full members of the pack?
MR HUSKISSON: As I understand it, Professor Sir John Marsh, the young hounds that show a reluctance to enter into the pack can meet several fates. Some of them will be redrafted on into drag hunting, say, to try and teach them to hunt the artificial scent. Sometimes the hunts will persevere with hounds, thinking that it might have some benefit in the pack, perhaps for its scenting ability. But, if it cannot be drafted on to other hunts, why should another fox hunt want one fox hound that will not hunt in your country, why should they want one, then it can be put down. Hounds can be put down for a variety of faults: They could be mute hounds, they could be babblers, all sorts of technical terms, but basically they do not do what the huntsman wants.
THE CHAIRMAN: In the IFAW evidence, it is suggested that at the stage of autumn/cub hunting that, in fact, the cubs are only half grown. Is that a measure of what you think is the stage that it takes for full development? We talk about breaking up family groups before they are independent. As you will have heard, that was not the evidence that we were given this morning. It was suggested that, in fact, they were much more, in fact, fully grown.
MR HUSKISSON: Lord Burns, the question of when the cub hunting starts is debatable. You heard this morning it was put at September. Actually, we tend to think it is the first Saturday in August, but we have even had cub hunting going on in July. So quite how they describe that as autumn hunting is beyond me. We would dispute the age of the cubs involved, and state that they are cubs. I mean, they may, yes, be well on the way towards adulthood.
THE CHAIRMAN: What age would you define as the point of adulthood?
MR HUSKISSON: Well I have to pass that to one of my colleagues.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, I am going to ask Colin Booty, our Wildlife Officer, to comment on this.
MR BOOTY: Yes, Chairman. You referred to the IFAW evidence. The IFAW submission makes cross-reference to a detailed book by H.G Lloyd, The Red Fox. In that is a table of data showing the growth rate of foxes. It is against that that one can make the judgment about whether you think how big they are, and what age they are, it was in that context that that point was made in that submission. So I think the evidence in the supporting work is there.
THE CHAIRMAN: We will check that. It is also suggested in the same piece of evidence that this may account for some of the problems that farmers and gatekeepers have, because of foxes being forced off their natural range. Is that, in a sense, a hypothesis, or is there anything to support that?
MR SWANN: I am sorry, Lord Burns, my fault I am sure, I missed the emphasis of the question. You are asking about dispersal onto adjacent agricultural land?
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, I am sorry. It is in paragraph 3 that I am looking at, the evidence suggests, talking about cub hunting. "It may also account for many of the problems reported by farmers and gamekeepers at this time of the year, inexperienced foxes forced off their native range have no option but to take the easiest prey available, such as domestic stock." It was the suggestion, in a way, that the process of dispersal may actually be causing problems for farmers. I was just asking, really out of curiosity, whether this was a hypothesis. Again, is there any evidence?
MR SWANN: This was largely based on comments which have been received from farmers. Some farmers do not like the process of cubbing taking place on farms adjacent to them because they think it does, on occasions, push foxes through onto land which they hold. So it is based on evidence presented to us from actual farmers.
THE CHAIRMAN: Shall we move on to the issue of artificial earths. What do you see as the purpose of artificial earths? How common do you think they are? Is this something which you think is something that we should regulate?
MR SWANN: I would like to pass this question to Mike Huskisson, who has most experience in this field.
MR HUSKISSON: To be honest, I really do not dispute the views expressed by the Duke of Beaufort in his book, "Fox Hunting", where he says that, in countries where earths are scarce, it is sometimes found necessary to make artificial earths to provide somewhere for local foxes to have their cubs; in other words, for breeding purposes. Now, he is a leading authority on hunting, and I do not dispute the words that he expresses there. I do not say that every hunt in the country has artificial earths. I concede that it varies from hunting country to hunting country. Some of them have a great number. One of them I know, the Thurlow Hunt, which is not far from myself, has at least 31 artificial earths that we know of. It could well be that they are going at it with a great deal of enthusiasm because the chap is a shooting man and views the fox cubs in the same way as raising pheasants. Whereas other hunts, perhaps, have far fewer. But, again, it is a comment from our opponents that there are artificial earths in most hunting countries in the United Kingdom, and I dont' dispute that.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Could I follow you up on that, and the extent to which those artificial earths -- which perhaps will be a good case example -- are still being created or still in use. I would suspect that a shooting person would not want them, rather than encouraging them. Are they historical, or are they current?
MR HUSKISSON: They are certainly historic. If you go back to the first instance of the Bailey's Hunting Directory, there is a guide on how to build artificial earths. That was at the back end of not the last Century but the one before that. They are still building them -- by building, I also add refurbishing as well because they take existing ones, that have become a bit collapsed for whatever reason, and they are putting in new pipes, and making them nice and cosy and warm again for foxes. So it is still an ongoing thing. It is still happening.
THE CHAIRMAN: The next item on our list is the question of stopping-up of earths and in sets. We would be interested in what evidence you have about that, -- well, both the reasons why it is practised, but any information you have in terms of the extent to which this is done in accordance with the guidelines, or if you feel that that is not happening. Again, this is something which we have received some communications about. We would be interested in anything that you have to say on the subject.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, Mike Huskisson is working quite hard this morning. I am going to pass this back to him and Kevin Hill, who has direct evidence from his own observations.
MR HUSKISSON: Lord Burns, and Members of the Committee. Again, my experience of some 30 years of following hounds and earth stopping, that is done to keep the foxes running above ground. They have to have a gallop. There has to be a pursuit, a chase; that is what people are there for; that is what they pay for; that is where the sport comes. If they put hounds into a wood, and the fox runs 50 yards in the wood and disappears straight down a hole, then that is no use for them at all. As it was put to me, the purpose of the stopping was to keep the foxes above ground so they can provide sport. As to the sort of the nature of the stopping that is done, we have heard from the National Federation of Badger Groups. They have put their own submission in about the stopping of badger sets, and the legality or illegality of that on occasion. You will be well aware of that. But I find that what does happen sometimes is that people, surprisingly enough, are actually unaware of how things change in the countryside. We have taken a close look at the Thurlow hunt. Some of the artificial earths there are actually taken over by badgers. The hunting people who, have, gleefully have gone along and stopped these artificial earths up have found actually that they are stopping-up badger sets unknown to them, allegedly unbeknown to them. It does raise issues of difficulties in the countryside, and causes a lot of inconvenience and harm to other species besides the target ones.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I ask a further question about hard stopping of sets or badger's holes, which in the IFAW evidence is pointed out does occur and is a breach of hunting rules. I think what would be very helpful to us is some idea of the extent of that. Obviously, there is some evidence but how often and how much documentary evidence do you have of that and the frequency of it?
MR SWANN: I would like to pass this question to Colin Booty, who is our Wildlife Expert.
MR BOOTY: Professor Winter, as Mike Huskisson has already mentioned, there has been a very detailed submission from the National Federation of Badger Groups, and they do deal with this point in some detail. They are very concerned about the activities of the hunts and stopping-up earths. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, there are still a very big number of problems arising. They do give numerous case examples in that, including sets which have been abandoned after activities, and also an example where, in Leicestershire, a badger was found half stuck, half in, half out of a badger set, which had been filled with supposedly loose soil after persistent rain for five days that had changed the consistency. The badger had been unable to dig it itself out completely. When the badger group came along, they rescued this rather distressed badger, took him to a vet who decided the best course of action was euthanasia. So there are examples of that in that submission.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I just ask, we appreciate the examples, the cases, we have been given to consider. The line of my question is very much to try and get a sense of the proportionate importance of this. In your monitoring and the monitoring of your colleagues, and the work that is done -- you do not like earth stopping at all and we recognise that of course -- but you presumably see examples of earth stopping that is in accordance with the hunt's own rules, soft material, and you see examples that are not, and you just indicated some of those. What we would like, I think, is a sense of what you feel the relative proportions are between those two practices?
MR SWANN: Professor Winter, I feel it might be helpful to you to have some comments from the hunt monitors, who might be able to shed some light on that.
MR HILL: Yes, Professor Winter. In my opinion, monitoring fox hunts, certainly for this last season, I certainly reiterate the points of Mike Huskisson; that the earths are in fact stopped purposely to prolong the chase. Regarding the manner in which they are stopped, certainly, in particular, badger sets, on a few occasions we have in fact this last year reported those incidents to the police for investigation. So I do feel that -- bearing in mind, if you could, that we do not have a free range to go exactly where we wish, and we keep entirely to public footpaths -- it is my feeling that the widespread over stopping, hard stopping of fox earths does take place. It is very difficult for us to actually put a figure on the hard stopping in relation to what is acceptable because we just do not have that access to private land and, further, to the artificial earths they are stopped as well. The reference I believe to the Countryside Alliance Report suggested that foxes could come and go in artificial earths, just like a bird from a nest, I can say is wrong, because I, in fact, have seen an artificial earth stopped on the day of the hunt, when the hunt has finished the artificial earth is on stop. Another point I would like to raise is the practice of stopping the earth in, after the fox has gone below ground. There have been several recorded cases of this this year. Certainly there was one reported widely in the newspapers before Christmas, regarding the Quorn Hunt, when the fox actually went below ground and was stopped in. I would like to suggest that it poses a serious welfare problem to the fox, bearing in mind that it has probably been chased for some considerable time.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, just to address a point which you have raised earlier with the purpose of helping the Committee. There was a newspaper article in the Daily Mirror on 3rd October 1999, in which the Beaufort Hunt did actually indicate that it was building artificial earths at that time to attract foxes to the countryside, as hunting is all about conservation and control. I thought that might be helpful with regard to the recent incident.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. One of the points that has been put to us is that stopping-up is not so much about prolonging the hunt, but it is to avoid the situation of foxes going to ground very quickly, which would then involve more terrier work. Do you have any observations on that?
MR SWANN: Mike, I am afraid it is over to you again.
MR HUSKISSON: I really do not recall ever hearing that offered as a reason for it. I mean, the terriermen, they go out, and they are enthusiastic in their stopping-up of the earths and blocking them, and the purpose has been, as they put to me, to keep the fox above ground and running, they have not been saying, "We better stop up these earths to save a dig later on in the morning." They manage to keep the fox running above the ground and far enough away to find an unstopped earth, then they will go and dig it out.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Moving on from the stopping of earths, you introduced in your introduction the evidence of prolonging the chase. Do you have other examples, other than stopping-up, of ways in which the chase with any form of hunting is prolonged purposely?
MR SWANN: Thank you, Dr Edwards. The fox hunting above ground was one issue, but also we have concerns about measures to force deer to run. We have evidence, again, and the hunt monitors will give this first-hand. I am basically relaying what they have said to me. You must question them directly if you wish to corroborate this. There are procedures where it is necessary to split the deer away from a group, where the deer does not necessarily want to split away, or does not necessarily want to run. It is not necessarily the behaviour that deer wishes to exhibit. The huntsman will beat, make noises, crack whips, and perform a lot of activities of this type to try and persuade the deer to enter into a chase. So it is with this type of activity involved. It is precipitating the chase and perpetuating it to keep the deer going for as long a chase as possible. There would be ample opportunities to kill the deer, if that was the purpose, long before the end of the hunt was reached. Could I ask Mike Huskisson to comment further on this.
MR HUSKISSON: Yes, Dr Victoria Edwards. It lies right at the heart of hunting practice that it should do what they call "sporting", and as a cornerstone of that is the concept of law, which is the concept that if you bolt the cry, you give it fair law, which is to give it a start. So, if they bolt a fox out of an artificial earth, with a pipe or something like that, the hounds are held back, and it is given time to get away, get a run, and the hunt can continue. Obviously, from a short pipe, as soon as the fox comes out it can be killed, it can be shot, killed by all sorts of means, but it does lie right at the cornerstone of hunting that these people need to be sporting. But, of course, our interpretation of it is that it is in the interests of their fun, rather than in the interests of the well-being of the quarry.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I move on to the question of terrier work. First of all, do you have any views about the relative welfare consequences for the fox in relation to being caught above ground or being killed as a result of digging out?
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, one of the major concerns with terrier work, which we have always had, is what are, I am afraid, inevitable encounters between fox and dog down the earth. I have considerable first-hand experience of this in my more than 20 years as a practising veterinary surgeon. I have had very large numbers of terriers brought to me which have suffered appalling injuries as a result of underground encounters, and nobody will ever persuade me that these encounters do not take place because they evidently do. I think, from this point of view, seeing the state in which the dogs are brought in, evidently the fox must undergo some sort of similar process. I think this is perhaps not self-evident but at least I believe it to be the case. I could ask anyone from the panel to expand on this, and we will produce the same story. We do believe that terrier work represents a major compromise of welfare.
THE CHAIRMAN: There are, again, a set of regulations which we were hearing about this morning, in terms of the practices of terriering. Where do you think these go, in respect of dealing with some of the issues that concern you most?
MR SWANN: My Lord, I think it is very difficult to try and regulate an underground encounter between two animals which are biologically equipped to defend each other, or attack, as the case may be. I fail to see in principle how this type of regulation can occur, because, if an underground encounter is to occur, it is beyond the control of the terrierman. I think the number of cases that we do see of dog injuries confirms that view. I also have grave concerns with regard to terrier work; that the work that takes place is often beyond the control of the huntsman. Whereas the huntsman may, with the best will in the world, wish to maintain control, I just do not see how this is possible, given that the huntsman is rarely present, or the Huntmaster, sorry, is rarely present, at the time when digging out takes place, because, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the Huntmaster will not be present. So I fail to see how it can be regulated. These activities take place in great secrecy, or in great isolation, and I am totally opposed to the idea it can be regulated.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, could I briefly ask Mike Huskisson to comment on the same issue.
MR HUSKISSON: Lord Burns, and Members of the Committee. One of the things that concerns me, we are not exactly sure what all the rules and regulations are which have been brought in. One of the ones that has been brought to light is the concept that there should only be a limited number of people at any dig out. I always felt that was targeted at people like myself, to stop us gathering evidence, and reduce the numbers of people down to an inner core of tried and trusted people; and so that they did not have to put up with people from outside, who might have cameras up their jackets or whatever, to film what was going on. Really, we felt that that was perhaps symptomatic of the way they were thinking; that it should be kept private rather than open to public view.
LORD SOULSBY: The question of digging out a fox which has gone to earth and has escaped the hunt on a temporary basis, how far would your antagonism to hunting be alleviated if digging out was not done?
MR SWANN: I can answer that, Lord Soulsby, personally, by stating that I believe one of the greatest aspects of cruelty in hunting is the actual chase. So digging out is one aspect where I believe animal suffering does take place unnecessarily but I also firmly believe that there is a very strong case to be made -- in fact, I believe it is an overwhelming case -- that the animals are pursued to a point where they have suffered, and suffered for no good reason.
LORD SOULSBY: This does raise the sociological question, if I may go on, Chairman, of what is cruelty. We all have in our minds what that is, but I presume you would define it, as I might well define it too, as the practice of an unnecessary suffering, to be brief about it. There is, of course, the practice of necessary suffering in terms of rodent control and control of pests and things like that. But unnecessary suffering is related to poor welfare in any way. Poor welfare comes when the animal, whatever it is, cannot compensate for the stresses that have been put upon it. Now, you are saying that all aspects of hunting, right from the very beginning of the setting up of the fox, or the deer, or whatever, is cruel, like the whole process is. I am not sure that everybody would agree with you, but there must be a point where you can say that there is greater cruelty at this point than right at the very beginning. Would you be willing to acknowledge that there are shades of cruelty along a hunt?
MR SWANN: Lord Soulsby, I think the crux of the matter here is that, as we will acknowledge, welfare science is a founding science. There is, as yet, no physiological parameter that we can apply to indicate at which point that animal begins to suffer. It may suffer right from the very first moment of the chase, or it may begin to suffer at some point through it. This is not something that we are able to measure because there is no physiological way of doing it for an animal, any more than there is for a human being. I believe that the precautionary principle must be applied here; that because we cannot define the precise point -- nobody I think would argue that suffering takes place at the end of the chase. This has been demonstrated I think beyond all reasonable doubt by Patrick Bateson. I think Patrick Bateson's conclusions might well be applicable to other species, but science has not yet caught up with that view. Nobody can determine at which point during that chase that animal has ultimately begun to show those signs and symptoms. Indeed, this must be very much an individual concern because, if the animal is predominantly sedentary, then it will presumably begin to suffer so much sooner. But we have no way of measuring, and I believe we must apply the precautionary principle.
LORD SOULSBY: If I may, I add a final subcorollary to that. You use the phrase, "ultimately there is physiological damage to the quarry", and you obviously quote Patrick Bateson's evidence there. Of course, you are well aware that there is some difference of opinion about that, but animals which do recover from the hunt -- and not all animals are killed; they do escape and live to be hunted another day -- your concept of cruelty there, is that modified by the fact that they do escape, and they perform a normal life thereafter? Does cruelty stop when they escape?
MR SWANN: No, my Lord, it does not. On the one hand, it does not mitigate against the cruelty which has already taken place to that point, but we have no data for the survivability of animals after such a chase. Now, my own experiences with deer in Scotland would indicate that after major exertion, not in this case through hunting but through other reasons, that deer may die several days after such an escapade, and may indeed die with considerable physiological damage to the muscles, which is seen on post mortem, and we have know way of knowing what the survivability of those animals is after the kind of chase has led to physiological damage. So I do believe there is a welfare issue for animals in both circumstances.
THE CHAIRMAN: We are probably in danger of getting into the question of welfare generally which we have down for discussion on Monday and I may take things in that direction.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I would like to take you back to the use of terriers, and I heard a good deal of what you said. Earlier on you are suggesting that there are situations where you recognise there is a need to have some forms of control of pests and lets call them pests realising that also imports a certain amount of language. In those situations do you think there is any role for the use of dogs at all?
MR SWANN: I do not see a role for dogs in pest control, because I believe there are alternative methods. My background is from a substantial farming family and my family have farmed for many, many generations, and it is primarily sheep farming where pests if we are talking about foxes are well-known to me. My family have never once resorted to dogs in control of foxes, and it has never been necessary, and we have had alternative means of control with which we have always been satisfied, and I believe deer where they do become -- I accept your term pests and I have no problem with this at all -- but where deer become pests, either through damage to forestry or through damage to conservation projects throughout the bulk of the British Isles and my part of the world in the north of Scotland they are shot and shot humanely and cleanly by competent marksmen, and I do not see a role for dogs in this at all.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: It has been suggested to us that one of the roles of dogs is actually to discover the creatures in order that they might be shot. Given that it might be quite difficult to find these animals, do you think there is any substance in that argument? MR SWANN: This, Sir John, is the flushing argument and of course anybody used to country pursuits will be aware this is normal practice for flushing rabbits or flushing other ground animals which are considered to be pests, or which may need to be controlled. I think there is a difference here that we are dealing with different species and we are dealing with different habitat characteristics and dealing with different principles, and with respect I do not feel that this is something that I can equate to the species in question. I certainly do not think there is a role for this with the species that we are considering in the Inquiry.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Can I follow up: You said you did not think there was any role for use of dogs. Does that include casualty deer, for example?
MR SWANN: Dr Edwards, I would like to pass that to Kevin Hill if I may.
MR HILL: Yes, casualty deer. Casualty deer, the stag hunting fraternity they seem to pin their future hopes on that particular issue. On my experience of talking to stalkers who actually go out and put those deer down with rifles is basically they may need a dog to actually point to where a deer is and then efficiently put down with a rifle, and most casualty deer in the country are put down by rifle.
LORD SOULSBY: I just want to pick you up on your comments about hunting with dogs. Might you not agree that in certain parts of the country -- the Lake District, for example -- that where at least we are told that there can be quite a loss from foxes with lambs landing on the fells that hunting with hounds is about the only method there is of flushing out foxes and hunting them, and we are told that shooting is really not possible on the craggy areas, and it is quite dangerous. In Wales we visited a gun pack, and there again hounds were used to flush out the foxes which were then killed by a ring of guns.
MR SWANN: My Lord, I will make one brief response to that and I am going to ask Colin Booty to also comment on this point. I will state that my own farming experiences are in the Derbyshire Peak District, which is amongst the craggiest and highest land in the country. I will make two points. Firstly, I do not accept this argument about lamb mortality. We used to farm about 1,000 ewes on upland areas, and we would not consider under any circumstances that the fox was a significant cause of lamb mortality. This is a view, which is supported by the Sheep Veterinary Society and it is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. To me it is inarguable the fox is not -- bad farming is a cause of loss and if you have a very poorly fed ewe that is unable to defend its lambs through poor nutrition then farmers may take lambs opportunistically. Similarly, if you have lambs with very low birth weight, again caused by through poor nutrition, then foxes may take those lambs because they are not able to get up and get moving fast enough. So I am totally unconvinced by the argument of the fox as a primary predator in this situation. Times when you do need to control the fox where you have a rogue fox which will hover around the lambing fields and which perhaps you decide to cull irrespective of the type of territory it is in it is possible to shoot it, and that is a first hand opinion. I will pass you over to Colin.
MR BOOTY: Lord Soulsby, I think there is relatively little I actually want to add to that. I think Bill has covered that but I think in those areas, such as the Lake District, a lot of shooting in fact already takes place for a variety of purposes. So it is difficult to understand why it would suddenly be impossible to shoot some foxes; foxes are already shot; other animals are already shot. So shooting is already taking place in those areas.
THE CHAIRMAN: Can I follow up and, again, we slightly stray here and I need to very shortly bring us back to the other questions, but in the case Lord Soulsby referred to where we went to the Welsh gun packs where we were in an area with a large amount of forestry in which it was argued there were a lot of foxes and there was no way of shooting them other than by flushing them out. I just want to confirm you are saying that even in that situation you see no role for the hounds as part of the process of being able to shoot foxes?
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, may I ask for an another opinion on this from David Coulthread and Mike Huskisson who both have views on the same issue.
MR HUSKISSON: Lord Burns, you will recall that day -- no, I am sorry, it was not yourself there, but on the day where I was with the Inquiry team at the Plas Machynlleth hunt, the hounds were put into the big areas of forest and the guns, about 20 of them, were dotted in specific places and we were told by the people there that they were put along the rides. They were not put just willy nilly; these guys went up there with their rifles, and they waited in selected spots, because that is where they knew the foxes would come out, and of the 20 that were there, only two actually got a shot that day because there were only two foxes killed, so 18 sat in there in snowdrifts without getting a shot at all. The point I am making, the foxes, if they are accused of causing any harm, it is not actually within the forest. They must come out, and it is not beyond the competence of a competent person to wait there and shoot them out. I would not think you need to have the hounds to push them out, and if people spent -- 20 of them -- spent a day there and 18 not get a shot at all you might be able to get someone in that would perhaps do the job better for you.
THE CHAIRMAN: I feel -- I do not want to stray into this because it is for another area and another time. But in relation to shooting in a sense without the use of hounds, and we have read a lot of evidence about night time shooting and lamping, et cetera, in that sort of situation. The figures in terms of the number of hours that a single person has to wait to shoot a fox is, I recall, rather larger than the case that you are referring to. If you want to shoot foxes during the daytime in those situations where there are large amounts of forestry it was put to us, and I just wanted to get your response, that that was the most efficient way of dealing with the problem.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, could I make an initial comment about that, and it is not intended to sound impertinent, but the comment is valid that human effort should not be a measure of methods used to kill animals if there is a method which is more humane and is more expedient, and much as I accept that people will spend a lot of time in some circumstances waiting to pick their moment, if it is absolutely established that that animal must be killed then it must be killed by the most humane method, and if that requires more human effort from a welfare point of view, I would not consider that unreasonable.
THE CHAIRMAN: I accept that but I was simply responding to Mike Huskisson's point when he raised the issue of the relationship of human effort to this. But I am slightly worried we are trespassing into territory which we may want to do on another occasion. There are two other subjects which I would like to in a sense complete this issue about terrier work if you have any other comments to make about it, and I would like to go on to the subject about the kill before we have run out of time today. Are there any other comments on terrier work that anyone wants to make?
MR SWANN: I would ask Kevin Hill, who has first-hand experience.
MR HILL: Yes. Lord Burns, over the years, monitors that I have monitored with, have consistently seen terriers put down holes where they obviously do have public land to fill them from and monitor from. It is quite clear there is an underground battle that does go on. We do have evidence on many occasions of the terrier coming out of the hole with wounds on its face, and if you look at any terrier, lands terrier, you will see that the face is badly scarred. If I may, I would like to read out an extract which was in a publication a little while ago and this regards the practice of terrier work. And it goes like this: "Minutes later the bitch stopped baying and we could hear a battle raging underground. Tonic, a terrier, was obviously up to the fox and was now visibly engaging it, aided by the little bitch. The fox had been killed. Tonic had taken a fair bit of punch around the muzzle, confirmed by the swelling the next day, but was still eager for more work." That was actually in a publication of the Shooting News and I understand that Adrian Simpson contributed in part to that particular article.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, I think Mike Huskisson would also like to make a brief comment on terrier work if that is in order.
MR HUSKISSON: Lord Burns, something comes to mind I would like to raise this concept, terrier work would be sanitised by having certain terriers bay the fox, and I have seen the issue raised hard terriers and soft terriers and all this sort of thing. My experience has been out with these people and watching numerous dig-outs is that most terriers will bay a fox and most terriers will attack a fox. It really depends which way on the fox is. If the fox has gone into a hole that it can turn round in and face the terrier down head to head then the dog is more likely to bay it rather than attack it because it is more vulnerable to being by then itself, but if the poor old fox is squeezed into a hole that it cannot turn round in and it is just its back side sticking out then the terrier will go in and attack it, and it was put to me once that if you put the terrier in and two holes, and it can bay at both ends, the fox is clearly able to turn about in the passage. So I really do not see much in that. It strikes me that the fox is vulnerable according to which sort of hole it has sought as sanctuary.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could we move on to the question of the kill above ground. We were discussing in the earlier session this morning the question in a sense of the two descriptions one reads of the killing being by breaking the cervical cord against the question of disembowelment. You have made the point in your evidence that, you believe that there is a lot of evidence of the second form of killing. I am just wondering if you could offer us any views about what you see as the proportion of how the above ground hunt comes to an end, the different ways in which that happens.
MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. I am going to pass this question shortly to the two people who have most field experience but one of the difficulties, and the difficulties perhaps illustrated that recently I went to one of the world's largest databases on scientific publications to push in for evidence of dog bite injuries to find out how much evidence could be gained on what are normal dog practices and what dogs normally do, and out of 1,400 publications, I could not find a single one that gave any detailed descriptions of how dogs actually kill, because the situation we have in Britain is almost unique in this respect in that we have a system of killing with dogs, which probably has no parallel, not to my knowledge anyway, in the form in which it is carried out here. The nearest study I could find to this is one which was trawled from America which showed 93 dogs which showed very similar results to this were dog attacks on smaller dogs or puppies or cats, which are very similar results to those that have been put around by people observing fox injuries, that there is no specific pattern to where the bites take place. Indeed, it is suggested that some of the most instantly fatal bites are those to the chest, because a fox is quite a small animal relative to the size of a large fox hound, and where it grabs through the chest there is reason to believe that this would kill it at least as fast or as fast as dislocation of the neck. I cannot find any evidence of dog biting behaviour which would support either view. So we are down to observations in this country on foxes of which there are pitifully few, because evidently it is difficult to get foxes for post mortem. Those foxes that have been subjected to post mortem have confirmed the view of the American study that there is no direct pattern and that bites will basically appear where the hound reaches first and that may change quite quickly once the prey has been captured and restrained, but then what follows from that might well be a fatal bite. From my point of view what is more important is the time to insensibility because it is during that period that the animal may be able to experience pain or whatever. We have no data on this and, once again, I am very much inclined to apply as when talking to Lord Soulsby the precautionary principle that we just do not know, and just behavioural observations are not reliable in this respect, because we do not know at what point -- we cannot measure at what point the animal actually becomes insensible. In almost every other form of killing we can, because these measurements are made. After that, Chairman, may I please pass this question to people in the field who actually see what happens.
MR HUSKISSON: Lord Burns and colleagues, I would say straight off having spent 30 years watching this, I met very few hunting people who have actually seen the kill above land. I think it is a comparatively rare event for the hunt followers to actually see it. I myself have only seen it on one occasion. How it actually happens we tend to have a sort of a somewhat jaundiced view because I have met plenty of coursing club people that show us all that the hares and coursing are killed by some bite to the neck, and I have seen on any many occasions the hare scrabbling around and screaming. Given they come from the same stable of hunting fraternity, one tends to take a slightly jaundiced view the colleagues of the fox hunters also talk about the nip to the back of the neck. The one occasion I did see a fox caught above land it had been bolted above a pipe, tried to cross the river, fell in, and I had the somewhat unpleasant experience of watching it trying to get out. The hound piled in on top of it there was a thrashing in the water, and I could not see how the fox was killed. It was a bit like trying to see the ball in a water polo match. I could not say. All I could say it was probably killed quickly, but I did not enjoy the experience because it was an unpleasant end. I think as to whether the fox is disembowled or by then on the back of the neck, or whatever, in most cases if there is a packer there in force it is not going to last long. It only becomes a relevant issue if you have a single hound attacking the fox on their own, and I would point to the hunting literature when they talk about the hunting honour, which indicates it was the lead hound up there that caught the fox and was involved in the battle with the fox and the foxes killed instantly are incapable of fighting back of course.
MR SWANN: My Lord, may I also ask David to say a few words as well.
MR COULTHREAD: I would like to obviously talk in terms of the kill. I would like to remind the Committee that the kill invariably takes place after a chase which can have gone on, particularly in the case of deer hunting, for several hours and by which time the animal itself has been subjected to considerable stress, but earlier on the Countryside Alliance made reference to a particular cause celebre, Copper the fox. It was suggested the reason Copper sustained his injuries was because of the in the intervention of people observing that particular incident. The fact of the matter is in the case of Copper, when the vet came to examine him he was found to have multiple puncture wounds resulting from bites to his rear quarters. So, in other words, when that fox had been caught he had been caught and bitten several times to his rear, and that is the kind of proof we have, and the only kind of proof it is often possible to obtain, simply because by the time the pack has gone in and finished off the fox, and however long it takes place, it subsequent to that is then torn to pieces so on the few occasions where we have managed to find dead foxes where they have not been savaged at that point we have managed to get post mortem reports, and we have provided the Committee with evidence of those, which shows in the vast majority of cases we have managed to actually retain foxes killed, they have not actually died by the quick means suggested by the hunting fraternity.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I turn our attention to deer and ask basically the same question I asked earlier to the Countryside Alliance, which is -- and I think in the case of deer you will probably concede that the kill is seen more frequently, and you have given us examples of where the hounds have attacked the deer prior to people arriving to despatch it and the deer has not gone to bay in the normal way. My question is how often and what proportion of kills do you think that occurs?
MR SWANN: I would like to pass that to Kevin.
MR HILL: Yes. The subject of hounds attacking deer. Again, I do have to say that we monitor on public land only, so we cannot always see what has actually happened, even if it is one field away, or in some cases 20 yards away. What I can say is that on two occasions out of the probably the approximate number of 25 occasions when I have actually had a clear kill and not been impeded by hunt followers, on two occasions I certainly have seen the hounds attack the deer. One was the Quantocks and one was Devon and Somerset stag hounds. That is the only evidence I can give, as I said. I would like to qualify that by saying that we cannot and do not see every kill.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I move on to the question which I also raised this morning, which was the question of the sense of the discipline of hounds and the whole question of trespass, the extent to which hunts go into places where people have not given permission or where it is a serious inconvenience. There are also these cases which you have given us about examples where serious problems have arisen. My question, again, is rather, as Professor Winter's question is, one about frequency. In many of the cases you presented us with, are cases which occur our an awful lot of years, and the natural question is to what extent this is a -- high number of incidents in relation to the number of days hunting? In other words, is this a common problem? Is this a frequent problem? Or is this in a sense an isolated issue and just part of the fact that in any walk of life, in any activity, something sometimes goes wrong?
MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. I would like to pass that in the first instance to David Coulthread.
MR COULTHREAD: Thank you. It is very true that the evidence we supplied in the form of I think a rather thick bundle of hunt incidents does go back a number of years. The reason that we restricted ourselves -- and I have to say we restricted ourselves -- to those particular incidents, because they were the ones that actually appeared in local newspapers and in the national press, and we felt it was in a sense quite crucial that we were able to quantify every claim we made by verification and we felt journalists were probably the best form of verification. The reports we see during the hunting season regularly, many reports in the form of letters and phone calls, and also reports from our own monitors, but it is not possible to verify them in every single case, and frequently we hear from people who actually report to us, they can tell us about an incident but they do not want it reported because of where they live and intimidation they feel themselves if it became known they were reporting on those incidents, so we feel that an illustration we gave you was illustrative of what we regard to be the tip of an iceberg, and I say these things we would stress are those incidents that appeared in the newspapers, and many, many other incidents that must have occurred on a daily basis during the course of hunting. What I would like to add is that subsequent to this we also supplied you with a list of incidents that we have seen reported from the 1999/2000 series, which has drawn to a close, and the beginning of that season the Countryside Alliance, or the Foxhounds Association, announced the formation of ISAH, this new regulatory body, which is going to ensure that these incidents were controlled. The presence of that authority does not seem to have prevented this incidents of trespass happening in any way, and it does not surprise us. The simple fact is that if in the main fox hunts are pursuing a fox which is flayling, it must be said in terror of its life, that fox will run wherever it is available. If that means over motor ways, railway lines into people's back gardens that is where it will run. That is where the hounds will follow it. So it is inevitable in the course of a hunting day, with 300 hounds out, trespass incidents of this type must and will occur; it is inevitable.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, could I also ask Douglas Batchelor to comment on this and the specific question was in terms of numbers, thank you.
MR BATCHELOR: Thank you. I think it was raised earlier in questions of numbers, we specifically provided evidence of 76 pet deaths, and this is not simply a case of what you can count on the fingers of one hand. 524 cases of trespass; 91 cases where hounds were killed; 143 cases where roads and railways were involved and a total 1123 press reported cases of things that have happened that would not have happened had those animals been totally under the control of the Master, because one would have to assume that had they been under that control the incident would not have occurred. So we have provided that information. We also provided in our information evidence to suggest that the tendency to loss of control is increasing and that seems to be consistent with what was said about urbanisation of rural areas earlier on this morning, in that the number of cases in the 70s was 71, in the 80s was 329 and in the 90s was 354; so as the number of hunts declined the area available to hunt declines and the number of incidents seems to be significantly increasing. So I think the evidence that we put before you is that clearly there is an inability to control that results in incidents that everybody would regret. The reason that we used the specific incidences of press reporting is that all of those incidences are reported in our information supplied to you and can be checked on, but we do believe from all the evidence and all the contacts we have that they are the tip of a very large iceberg in terms of the havoc and chaos in the countryside caused by hunting with dogs.
PROFESSOR WINTER: I wonder if I could pursue this a bit further, the idea of the tip of the iceberg, and the idea such things are inevitable in a day's hunting. It is difficult to deal with that without a more rigorous scientific analysis, and as a scientist myself I appreciate individuals who provide information do not necessarily wish that to be reported as an individual case. The way round that obviously is to gather data statistically and to report it statistically, and I would suggest perhaps if you felt able to do that, that might be helpful to us. It might carry perhaps, dare I say, a little more weight than newspaper articles, which themselves are obviously the subject of dispute in many cases.
MR SWANN: Thank you, Professor Winter. I think indeed if we are able to assist this committee in any way in presenting data in a way that would help you then we will obviously undertake to do that, and perhaps this could be presented at one of the research seminars, if this is going to be something the Committee will find helpful. I think I will reiterate though what David Coulthread has said is that there is a wealth of evidence that incidents do go unreported, but we have tried to confine ourselves to presenting factual evidence. I think it would be quite wrong to come here and say yes, we have considerable evidence of incidents which go unreported which people do not make formal complaints about, which people do not notify through some proper channels, and I think that would be improper to try and present evidence in that way. What we have presented are those instances where we can absolutely categorically state that these incidents did happen.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I ask a question too about interference with the flight of the pursued animals? Do you feel in that case that there is a lot of examples of this which go unreported and that this is a common practice. Or do you agree with the points that were made earlier today that this in fact is accidental, fairly isolated and accept that it is not being encouraged by the hunt?
MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns, I am going to pass that to Kevin Hill and possibly to Mike Huskisson as well.
MR HILL: Lord Burns, the impression that was given this morning that followers just merely turn up on the outskirts of land where they are not allowed I simply cannot agree with. I have seen and continue to see followers screaming up roads in cars, blowing horns, standing on hedgerows, screaming and shouting if I may say, all designed to stop the quarry -- in this case I am talking about the stag -- from escaping to land where they cannot hunt. I would like to make forcibly that point that there is a lot of interaction by the followers to prevent deer from going where it actually wants to.
MR HUSKISSON: I would agree with Kevin, that there is a lot of effort made by hunting people to keep the quarry in an area where they can hunt it. Obviously in cub hunting and fox hunting if you make the point there that they deliberately head the young cubs back into the wood, but by and large a lot of the hedging of the quarry is inadvertent. It is because supporters are in the wrong place at the wrong time or the quarry is heading towards the main road, and the lorries thunder by and turn it back. It is not good for the huntsman. The huntsman will curse and swear if it happens. If the quarry come off line it is going to produce a check where the hounds may not pick up a new line; so it is not really something they want. What they want more than anything is to make sure they can continue to hunt the species. They will hunt deer and anything away from an area where they know they are not allowed to hunt.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think we must finish in a minute or two for lunch. Could I ask a final question this morning on the issue about unofficial hunting, or even illegal hunting. One of the points put to us is that at the moment hunting takes place within a framework where there is self regulation and there are a set of rules and things are open and above board. There actually is quite a lot of illegal or unofficial activity of one kind or another that goes on and that if hunting was to be banned what would happen would be that a part of hunting which is regulated and which is above ground would be forced out, whereas the part which is underground and illegal would actually continue. So we would end up with a situation where the part that was regulated better disappeared; the part that was unregulated, if anything, could even thrive. Do you have a response to that hypothesis?
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, I am going to pass this on to David Coulthread.
MR COULTHREAD: It is actually our experience that the existence of legal hunting actually has been used very often by illegal activities, in many respects as a mask for their own activities. One specific example I would give is in the practice of backing up, digging out badgers. A common defence put forward by people who are found digging up badgers -- and the police know perfectly well they are digging up badgers -- is, "Oh, I thought it was digging up foxes". That is currently an illegal activity, and this is one example, one illustration, of the way in which illegal activities are often masked by the people claiming that they are involved in an activity which is currently legal, and far from driving hunting underground and causing more people to be involved in an illegal activity I would suggest that because hunting itself is so visible those people who are able to give up as a defence the fact that they are involved in an activity which is currently legal will become less and less and it will be far more easy to secure prosecutions for people taking part in activities which are currently already illegal.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I think we should break now for lunch. What I propose to do for this afternoon's session is to begin with the economic and social issues and see how we get on with that agenda. If there is any time to spare. We may return to one or two of these issues. Otherwise, we will have to deal with it by correspondence if there are any other issues you wish to raise. Thank you very much.
MR SWANN: Lord Burns, may I thank you and the Committee for taking the trouble to go into so much detail this morning which we have appreciated, being able to present the evidence to you in that sort of detail.
(Adjourned for Lunch).
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