ORAL EVIDENCE: COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE AND DEADLINE 2000
THURSDAY 6TH APRIL 2000
LONDON WC1N 1HT
MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE:
LORD BURNS (CHAIRMAN)
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH
PROFESSOR LORD SOULSBY
PROFESSOR MICHAEL WINTER
SESSION ONE - PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF HUNTING
Representation Panel Chairman:
John Jackson Chairman, Countryside Alliance
Simon Hart Countryside
Alliance Campaign For Hunting
Brian Fanshawe Countryside Alliance Campaign For Hunting
Sam Butler Masters Of Foxhounds Association
James Eberle Association Of Masters Of Harriers And Beagles
Tom Yandle Master Of Deerhounds Association
Barrie Wade National Working Terrier Federation
Charles Blanning National Coursing Club
Deborah Blount Association Of Lurcher Clubs
Adrian Simpson Federation Of Welsh Packs
Desmond Hobson Masters Of Minkhounds Association
COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO HUNTING WITH DOGS ORAL EVIDENCE: COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE AND DEADLINE 2000 (10.00 am).
THE CHAIRMAN: Good morning and welcome to everyone. Thank you for coming to the next stage in our proceedings. I am afraid we have had quite a bit of difficulty in finding an appropriate room in London for these various events, which is why we are having to move around, but I hope you all find this comfortable enough. We have divided the two days into four sessions. Today, we are looking at the practical aspects of hunting and the economic and social aspects of hunting. We would like to do one topic this morning and the other this afternoon, but that is not fixed. I think, in part, we will have to see how we get on in terms of the pace of the questions and answers. We will try to keep the agenda moving. We hope that we can all, in a sense, do our part to keep the agenda moving because we have quite a lot to cover. If possible, we would like to go beyond the written evidence. We have had a lot of written evidence; we have read that, and the question is to how far we can probe some of that further. So I would like to welcome your team, Mr Jackson, and invite you to make your opening statement.
MR JACKSON: Thank you very much, Lord Burns. Lord Burns, Members of the Committee, the Countryside Alliance speaks on behalf of a growing membership; now in excess of 85,000, as well as more than 300,000 members of the affiliated organisations. Many, but by no means all, of those 380,000 people are actively involved in hunting. The Alliance seeks to further the interests of all those who live, work in or use the countryside. The Alliance sees the countryside, including its wildlife, as a dynamic and evolving whole, which is part of the heritage of the whole nation. It is in that wide context that the Alliance is robust in its views on the merits of lawful and regulated hunting, which it sees as a classless, open and public activity.. The Inquiry already knows that the Alliance campaigned vigorously for the facts about hunting to be established and reported on by an independent public inquiry. The Alliance is anxious to assist the Inquiry to report fully and within the timescale that has been set. The Alliance campaigned for an inquiry, not just because hunting is a complex topic but because of the danger that irreversible decisions affecting many people could be taken following an emotionally charged and incompletely informed debate. Our history as a nation of creating new offences in such circumstances is a most unhappy one. On occasion, we have unjustly reduced personal freedom and deprived minorities of the tolerance they are entitled to expect in a modern, pluralist society. I can give a specific example of his, if the Inquiry wishes. Of course, minorities should only expect that tolerance within agreed norms, and it is an agreed norm, strongly supported by the Alliance, that cruelty to animals is wrong. It is not a simple matter to establish what cruelty is in an absolute sense, and particularly, to the extent that it involves ethics and moral values, is a problem which has to be left to Parliament. The legislation enacted by Parliament to date, and designed to protect animals, defines the offence of cruelty by reference to specific acts, cruelly beating or kicking, for example, and there is a sweeping up reference to causing unnecessary suffering. This is particularly relevant to hunting because, in a situation in which the killing of wild animals is necessary for a range of different reasons, the proper expression of the agreed norm is that no more suffering should be imposed on a wild animal than would be by other available and lawful methods of killing. The Alliance is, and always will be, opposed to the causing of unnecessary suffering. The establishment of whether a particular method of killing involves more or less suffering than others is largely susceptible to scientific analysis of established facts and to discussion, assisted by informed scientific opinion. Such an analysis and discussion in the case of hunting would be of great value to Parliament and the whole community. In the view of the Alliance, it is imperative that the Inquiry tries its utmost to make a finding on this question of unnecessary suffering. It is imperative because it is only the prevention of such suffering which would, as a matter of public interest, justify a reduction in the personal freedom of many. It is true, of course, that personal freedom, the exercise of liberty by any minority, carries with it obligation. In this case, the obligation is to show respect for wild animals, individually and as a whole, and, in the carrying out of necessary killing of individual animals, to inflict as little suffering as possible. Minorities are also obliged to defend the right of those who do not agree with them to protest and be heard. Those minorities also have an obligation to listen and learn. It is sometimes said that animals are also a minority. It is grotesque to suggest that animals can also have obligations. Animals can only behave instinctively or as actual experience has conditioned them to behave. It is we humans, and only we, with our powers of reason, who can have obligation. The Alliance is glad that the Inquiry's terms of reference include the consequences for animal welfare of any ban on hunting. Whilst the Alliance believes that personal freedom and cruelty, in a relative sense, are the central questions, it also believes that it is right to put them into a real social context. The Inquiry already knows that there are strong feelings in the rural community about hunting. The Alliance believes that this is due, in large part, to the feeling that the strands, of which hunting is one, that go to make up the web supporting the coherence of small rural communities are gradually being pulled out by an unknowing urban majority. Community disintegration and its consequences are bad for the whole of society, and the Alliance is particularly pleased that the Inquiry's remit also covers the social and economic consequences of any ban on hunting. In this context, the Inquiry is interested in drag hunting, for those that advocate a hunting ban argue that substitution by drag hunting would alleviate the social and economic disadvantages flowing from such a ban. In the view of the Alliance, this is rather like a Local Authority banning the showing of films in local cinemas, and arguing that, much as people may have enjoyed going to the movies, opera and ballet are excellent substitutes, and better for people anyway. Do we really want a society which values personal freedom in that kind of way? That is the end of my introduction.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Clearly, of course, some of the issues that you have touched on in your opening statement are issues that we will be returning to later in our session, and of course we must also emphasise that we will be looking further at some of the issues in the context of the seminars and the research work that we have commissioned. The first topic we want to deal with falls under the general heading of practical aspects of hunting. Is there anything by way of opening statements that you want to make on that topic?
MR JACKSON: I believe my colleague Simon Hart would like to. I think there are a few moments available for such a statement.
MR HART: Lord Burns, Members of the Committee. "Engaging in hunting morally corrupts all those engaged in it and provokes a loss of moral and behavioural judgment." In a submission to the Inquiry from a member of Deadline 2000, this allegation is made against the many thousands of people to whom hunting is a job, a pastime, a source of business, all amounting to a way of life. Published evidence to the Inquiry from over 50 diverse organisations, and evidence contained in over 5,000 submissions from private individuals, sets out quite clearly why hunting is important to them, their communities and their livelihoods. Furthermore, the submissions describe, through substantive evidence, why accountable hunting is to the ultimate conservation benefit of the various quarry species and their habitat via a selectivity and vigorous regulation. Evidence describes how the governing bodies of hunting continue to strive and maintain an improved standard set down over several hundred years of active and practical management of the countryside. Hunting continues to flourish throughout the UK. It is accountable, and it takes place in the public domain. The evidence provided by hunting organisations, and the Countryside Alliance overview, is factual and reflects hunting in England and Wales as it is, not as it is portrayed by those who campaign for it to be made a criminal offence. Thank you.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. We set out in advance on the agenda a list of topics that we would like to go through. I am not sure whether in all cases we will be able to cover them all, but I think we start in that spirit. Under the general heading of fox hunting, the first issue that we have put down is autumn/cub hunting. As you know we have been to a number of events. We have read a great deal about fox hunting, but of course one of the things that we have not seen is autumn or cub hunting as a result of the time at which we were established. Clearly, this is a controversial issue, and I would just like to begin by asking you to set out, in a sense, your description as to this particular form of hunting, why it takes place and where it fits into the general issue of hunting.
MR JACKSON: Simon Hart will deal with that, Lord Burns.
MR HART: Lord Burns. You will be familiar with the Alliance overview evidence on that, on page 105 of our submission but, just to recap that, the objectives of autumn hunting are threefold: Firstly, to cull a reasonable number of foxes; secondly, to disperse concentrations of foxes which have built up at that particular time of year; and, thirdly, to introduce the young hounds which have been bred that year to the practice of hunting, and to teach them to hunt fox and nothing else.
THE CHAIRMAN: In terms of some of the evidence that we have seen, there has been the question as to what extent the cubs are still dependent on their mothers at that stage in the process, and to what extent they are fully grown. Is there anything that you want to say in response to some of the issues that have been made, some of the points that have been put about that?
MR HART: Yes, two things, really. First of all, evidence -- which I think you will have seen from the Game Conservancy -- points out that it is extremely difficult to tell at that time of year, simply because of the maturity of the foxes in question, the difference between a so-called cub and an adult fox. What we have said in our own overview evidence is that they are fully grown, totally independent of their parents at that time of year, and well able to, and indeed actually re coping and feeding independent of their dog and vixen parents.
MR JACKSON: The expression cub is perhaps unfortunate, Lord Burns; in fact, they are already young adults.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Could I ask you to explain a little more what you mean by dispersal?
MR HART: Autumn hunting normally starts in September, sometimes a little later, depending on largely agricultural constraints at that time of year. Litters of cubs which have been born in specific areas, which have not in fact spread for any particular reason, there has been an abundant food supply during the summer months which can be referred to in other evidence. One of the purposes of hunting at that time of year is that the practice of hunting will automatically remove a few of those particular concentrations of foxes but, at the same time, actually spread them into neighbouring regions which may actually be less populated, and, therefore, minimising that possible risk of overpopulation, and, therefore, unacceptability to the farming community in those specific areas.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I just explore that a little further. As the lay person in this area, I would have thought if a fox was moved off, it would come back again to its natural territory. Have you evidence that that is not the case; that they do actually disperse out into unpopulated territories?
MR HART: Experience has shown that is not the case, because hunting is a gradual process. It takes place not in one area, just once a year; it happens maybe once every three weeks, once every four weeks. It does not happen in one specific parish or farm; it is a practice which is spread over entire counties, covering all sorts of areas. So the overall effect, coupled with other methods of fox control, which will also often be going on at the same time, the result of which has to be judged by farmers as to whether you have been effective. If you have been effective, then complaints from farmers, by the local population, tend to be reduced, and that is the experience we have found.
THE CHAIRMAN: Some of the descriptions we have seen, and videos we have seen, describe the process of members of the hunt in a sense seeking to impede the flight of foxes during this activity. I mean, is this a typical practice? Is this part and parcel of it? And to what extent are you trying during autumn hunting, in a sense, to keep the foxes within the confined area, and to what extent are you trying to disperse them?
MR HART: Holding up, which I think is a sort of expression which will cover that -- again, I think it is largely misunderstood. The purpose of it, in fact, is principally to restrict the whole hunting practice to a specific area, largely because of standing crops and other things like cattle, which are out at that time of year, unlike later on in the winter, where there are no standing crops and cattle are generally in, you are actually wanting to contain your morning's hunting to a specific area. A lot of hunts do not even practise holding up. As you will have seen from the MFHA's submissions, the rules regarding its conduct and how it actually takes place, the restrictions which member hunts are bound by are quite severe. Nine times out of ten, most holding up actually only takes place if you, for example, have a square wood perhaps on two sides of it, to prevent the foxes exiting on those two sides as opposed to exiting the whole wood.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: You mentioned the MFHA, and I would like to explore in a more general sense the extent to which the variety of rules we have seen covering various aspects of hunting and the organisations responsible for them; how do these actually operate. How is it that a failure against the rule is reported? What action then follows? We notice when we visited hare coursing, for example, that there was a person present who was actually looking at it from the organisational point of view. Is there an equivalent in the other areas?
MR JACKSON: Sam Butler will talk about this from MFHA's point of view, and perhaps others can chime in.
MR BUTLER: Sir John, an interesting question. MFHA, as with all hunting organisations, have had rules and codes of conduct for a huge number of years, almost ever since hunting has taken place. Hunting takes place with the permission of land owners, who indeed exert their own, as it were, authority on hunting, as it does indeed in the public domain. As you may be aware, Masters are appointed each year to be responsible for the running of hunting on the days and during the whole of the season, in fact the whole of the year. So it is with that blessing that hunting takes place. The rules are laid down, and are annexed at the back of the MFHA submission, as are the AMHB, the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles, and all those associations, for you to see very clearly. The MFHA introduced 18 months ago a new disciplinary committee to oversee those rules, and it is for anyone within the hunting fraternity to make a representation to the MFHA, who indeed themselves will put that to the Disciplinary Steward. The Disciplinary Steward will then decide whether or not those rules or codes of conduct, or whether indeed hunting, has been brought into disrepute in any way. They will look carefully at those and make a judgment on those. You may be further aware that the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting has been established under the Independent Chairmanship of Sir Ronald Waterhouse. He has indeed, or is indeed, appointing independent commissioners to sit with him. That Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting is there as a supervisory authority, over and above the hunting rules, to see that those are conducted.
MR JACKSON: You mentioned other bodies, you might like to hear from Mr Blanning about the National Coursing Club, or indeed, Deborah Blount, perhaps you would like to talk about the Association of Lurcher Clubs?
MS BLOUNT: Thank you. The primary role of lurcher work has always been for pest control purposes. Because of this, and the individual nature of much lurcher work, it has only recently come under the umbrella of a regulatory organisation, which was when the Association of Lurcher Clubs was formed, which was only five years ago. The Association is a member of the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting. We do promote, well, our members must abide by, a code of conduct and the rules set out by our Association.
MR JACKSON: Charles, do you want to add anything?
MR BLANNING: As Sir John has mentioned, the National Coursing Club has at each one of its meetings an official known as the Coursing Inspector, who supervises the meetings in regard to the rules of the National Coursing Club, and specifically to rule 41, which is entitled "The welfare of the hare". If the Coursing Inspector finds that the rules of the National Coursing Club have not been applied correctly, then it is within his rights to report the club, or the individual who has been at fault, to the Standing Committee of the National Coursing Club, which in itself has the right to disqualify from affiliation the club concerned, or to disqualify the individual, if an individual was at fault.
THE CHAIRMAN: Can you tell me how many incidents have been reported in the course of the last 12 months by the inspectors?
MR BLANNING: In the last 12 months, there have been two.
LORD SOULSBY: My first question has been answered in that are there lay people on these committees, that is non-hunting people? I think that was answered in the positive sense. The other one was: Is there an appeal system to any individual or hunt who are accused of breaking the rules, and who is the appeal body that they go to?
MR JACKSON: That will vary body by body. Perhaps you would like to talk about the MFHA.
MR BUTLER: Lord Soulsby, just to be positive with regards to your first point, the Commissioners are independent, and they are appointed by an appointments panel who were picked within the Memorandum of Association of ISAH Limited, and under the jurisdiction of Sir Ronald Waterhouse. That is the first point. The second point is that ISAH is there to consider and review the rules and the codes of conduct of hunting at any time. It is also there if it considers that the Disciplinary Committee for the Master of Fox Hounds Association has not dealt with the particular matter in an appropriate way, or if, indeed, any member of the public, or indeed any member within hunting, considers it has not been dealt with in a proper way. The sanctions there are suspension or, indeed, disqualification.
MR JACKSON: The Committee might like to hear something from Adrian Simpson from the Federation of Welsh Packs.
MR SIMPSON: Good morning. As far as the Federation of Welsh Packs are concerned, I would refer you to the submission, and with your permission I shall read out from our constitution which forms part of the submission. "Should the Committee have reason to believe that a member pack of the federation has acted in any way prejudicial to the interests or the good name of hunting, it may forthwith be suspended from the Federation of Welsh Packs, and within 28 days of his suspension shall be required to furnish a written explanation to the Secretary for consideration by the Committee, or to appear personally by the Committee or both."
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I want two points to clarify. First of all, the ISAH arrangement; is it actually operating, or is it simply now planned? In a second sense, from whom do the complaints come? Are they from the public at large, or are they from people within the hunting fraternity?
MR BUTLER: Sir John, firstly and Ronald Waterhouse makes an apology -- although it is not indeed his fault -- but ISAH did have a technical problem in that the word "authority" was not acceptable to the Government authority, so we had to change that, or it had to be changed to ISAH Limited. The appointments panel is there and the commissioners are all but in place. My view is that, if there had been a problem this season, then Sir Ronald would have been in a position to have dealt with it. He, indeed, has read the rules, read the codes of conduct, and is familiar with it, and, for all intents and purposes, could have dealt with a situation if it had come. The second point is that, a member of the public -- the intention is that hunting should be open, public and open to scrutiny -- therefore, if a member of the public felt that they wished to make a point to ISAH Limited, then indeed it could do so, but, equally, there are plenty of people in my experience within the hunting field itself who feel that hunting should, and must, stand public scrutiny, and indeed could make a representation themselves.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Could I just follow up on that point, please. Could you tell me how many hunts are affiliated to ISAH?
MR BUTLER: Dr Edwards, all members of the Master of Foxhounds Association all member hunts are affiliated to ISAH; as indeed are all the harriers and beagle packs; as indeed are all the mink packs; as indeed are all the deer hound packs. Everybody agreed that they should come under the jurisdiction, under the umbrella, of ISAH; as indeed is the National Working Terrier Federation, the Association of Lurcher Clubs, the National Coursing Club and the Federation of Welsh Packs.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: It includes all registered?
MR BUTLER: All registered, all regulated hunts within the country.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: It has not heard any cases at all?
MR BUTLER: It has not heard any cases.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Could you just clarify, on the hunting field is any one person responsible for bringing forward cases of bad practice, or is it entirely equitable that anybody can?
MR FANSHAWE: Thank you, Dr Edwards. First of all, going back to ISAH, all these organisations, whether they are the hunting organisations or the National Coursing Club or the National Working Terrier Federation, volunteered to be part of ISAH; and I think that is relevant. As far as today's hunting practice, if I have understood your question correctly, the Master in charge for the day is solely responsible for the conduct of that day's hunting. It is the Master in charge who is solely responsible for everything that happens in that particular day.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just press on the question, therefore, of where, in a sense, complaints come from which have to go to the authorities. Are they typically complaints that come from either anti-hunt observers, or from cases where there have been cameras, or cases where people have simply been observing, or where there have been issues of trespass. Or are there other cases where they are brought internally from within, in a sense, the hunting fraternity itself? We would just like to get some idea of the balance of the issues that you deal with.
MR BUTLER: Lord Burns, speaking on behalf of the MFHA, the Master of Fox Hounds Association -- although I am sure other associations around will add to this -- in our experience, complaints come from the wide variety of examples that you give. There are those, as I said to Dr Edwards, within hunting who feel that matters, or rules, or codes of conduct, or that hunting has been brought into disrepute, and that is not the way that it should continue, and that should be looked into. But, equally, there are plenty of others, where either videos or cameras or the press have picked up incidents, that we need to consider very carefully indeed, if hunting has been brought into disrepute and codes of conduct have been broken.
MR JACKSON: It would be helpful if Tom Yandle added to this from a West Country point of view.
MR YANDLE: Thank you. The Master of Deer Hounds Association behaves in exactly the same way as the Master of Fox Hounds Association, although of course we only have three packs so we are quite small. We would listen to complaints from anyone, and we would deal with it in the same way as the MFHA and the other organisations.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: You mentioned quite clearly that the registered packs are involved in this. I was wondering to what extent the hunting takes place in an unregistered manner that is known to you? MR JACKSON: Adrian Simpson from Wales will talk about that.
MR SIMPSON: I assume that we are talking about packs not registered by the MFHA, and we are talking actually about the shooting packs, what you referred to as shooting packs.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: I was thinking of all forms of hunting, but clearly shooting packs would be one of them.
MR JACKSON: The reason we have asked Adrian Simpson to deal with this is because we think the majority of this activity is concentrated in the gun pack area.
MR SIMPSON: As you know yourself, from your field visits to Wales, shooting packs are probably predominant in Wales. They have evolved over the last 20 or 30 years of a necessity to deal with the increase in the forestation and the increase in the fox population. The reason for the formation of the Federation was to unite all sorts of hunting in Wales, or all methods of hunting in Wales, and to govern all hunting in Wales. Shooting packs in Wales are members of the Federation of Welsh Packs. You will see from our submission that we have strict rules and guidelines regarding hunting in Wales, and regarding the shooting packs in Wales.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think that we may, if we have some time at the end of this session, want to maybe come back to some of the whole issues of regulation and self-regulation, but I would like to just press on with the topics for the moment set out in the agenda. I have a final question on the issue of autumn hunting, which is the third point that you mentioned about introducing young hounds into the pack. My understanding from our field visits is that this is not done, for example, in the case of the fell packs and, as far as I know, it is not done in the case of the deer packs. Why is it that they can do without this process of introducing hounds, whereas with fox hunting it is felt that it is necessary?
MR HART: Lord Burns, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the stag hounds but, as far as the fox hounds are concerned, every year a proportion of young hounds are bred to add to the existing packs. The purpose of actually taking them out hunting is obviously that they need to obtain experience, plenty of work at that time of year to teach them about hunting, largely not actually to teach them about catching foxes but a few disciplinary matters, and to make sure that they gain from the experience of the older hounds, and that they hone their instincts into hunting fox and fox alone. It is not a case of training young hounds to kill, which is sometimes an accusation which is made.
MR YANDLE: The young hounds with the deer hunting packs are taken out on certain days, usually days when the hunt is likely to be more in the open. They are introduced to the line of the deer in the same way, and they are taught to hunt and, more importantly, taught not to hunt other animals. So it is exactly the same thing. It happens throughout the autumn and up to Christmas. By Christmas time, the young hounds would all have been introduced to hunting the line of the deer.
MR JACKSON: Brian Fanshawe can say something helpful about that, I think, Lord Burns.
MR FANSHAWE: The normal practice with the young hounds is that either the huntsman, or generally the walker, may often take the young hound out on a lead, and will wait until the older hounds have found a fox, and then the young hound is released to join the pack when the pack has started hunting the fox; and that way they learn to hunt the fox. Only hounds in my experience, (tape) and I think in general experience, learn far more from their older hounds than they ever do from any human interference.
THE CHAIRMAN: My point in a sense that I am pressing is simply why is it, in one case, that it seems to require something which comes under a different heading, and has a different practice, whereas in other cases it just seems to be part of the normal year's hunting where this introduction takes place?
MR FANSHAWE: I think a lot of it is the timing. These hounds are probably about 15 or 18 months old. They have to start some time. The beginning of a particular season is the obvious time to do just that.
LORD SOULSBY: Could I just follow up on that. The juvenile hound, if we could call it that, or any canine, would normally be imprinted from its more senior member of the pack. There are many examples other than hunting where the juvenile goes along with the more adult, and becomes an adult in due course. You do not necessarily need a juvenile fox to chase. It would seem to me at least that the practice of not cubbing, of just having young hounds follow the adults, has been shown to be quite an effective way of training the young hounds to become adult and responsible hounds. Would you agree with that?
MR FANSHAWE: I would agree, Lord Soulsby, totally with what you say. I think there is a process of learning of the young hounds right through the summer exercise. When the young hounds go exercising with the older hounds, you will see them, whilst they exercise, that they will pick up the smoozes, the smells that have been about, and have their heads down. The old hounds know it is not the time to go hunting, but you can see the gradual development of young hounds right through the period of the hounding exercise, leading up to when they start hunting. I think it is quite right that we do not take unduly immature hounds out hunting because if you get into a long day's hunting, just through their immaturity, they would not be able to keep up with the pack.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I move on to the question of artificial earths and stopping-up of earths. I think some of us -- and a lot of the people who have commented on this -- see a paradox in the situation where there appears to be the use of artificial earths and yet, at the same time, part of the argument for fox hunting is pest control. The question is how one sees the consistency of this behaviour, and is it widespread? Are artificial earths still being created? Is this a normal part of the practice of hunting?
MR HART: To answer the second question first, very few hunts at all have artificial earths. If you talk to Adrian Simpson in Wales, or the Fells, the existence of an artificial earth is something that does not really enter their heads. The purpose of artificial earths has been misrepresented over the years, and hence is why there is this sort of grey area. It is sometimes seen to be some way of increasing the fox population. In fact that is not the case. The purpose of artificial earths is to encourage fox populations to live in an area where you expect to find them, can find them and then can safely hunt them. So, it is a management device, as opposed to some forced system of artificially keeping the population high or artificial -- the problem is that artificial earths are sometimes interpreted as meaning artificial fox. Quite the opposite is the case. It is simply a way of knowing, if you are a huntsman, that you can go to a specific area of the country with a better chance of finding a fox than otherwise would be available.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I move on to the question of earth stopping, which is another issue which gets quite a lot of attention. Is the purpose of this simply to prolong the chase? How far does the practice differ between areas? And how far do you think the regulations are in practice followed? Going round talking to people, we often have it put to us that the practice and the regulations in this area do not necessarily accord all the time?
MR HART: The MFHA rules, which Sam Butler can talk about, regarding earth stopping are quite clear. Indeed, the law of the land with regard to the 92 Badgers Act makes it perfectly clear what hunts are able to do or not do. Again, I think earth stopping has always been interpreted as a system whereby hunts can be prolonged indefinitely, but in practice that is not the case. Earth stopping's principal purpose always was to be done at night, while foxes were out feeding; so that they then lay up above ground so they could be found on the day's hunting. Clearly, of course, the bigger earths, if they were stopped, would prevent a fox going to ground during the course of the hunt, which would enable fox control to be carried out rather more effectively. The fact of the matter is that anybody who perhaps walks across a bit of England or Wales will realise that to do comprehensive earth stopping would be completely impractical. Earth stopping accounts for probably five, maybe ten per cent of the available earths available to foxes for a day's hunting. What it does is stop them getting into places where it is impossible to control them.
MR JACKSON: Lord Burns, I am assured by my friends who hunt -- which I do not -- that earth stopping is specifically not for the purpose of prolonging the pursuit.
MR FANSHAWE: I think there is one further point; that if earth stopping was limited, or even banned, then I think from farmers there would be an increased call for the use of terriers to control foxes. Hunting has to justify itself and I think that is likely to happen. That would be our opinion.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think maybe let us move on to the question about terrier work, which of course is another area which has come under a good deal of scrutiny. There are questions that in a sense come to mind here, which is the extent to which there is contact between terriers and foxes underground; the impact of the terrier work upon the foxes; and to the extent to which that is putting them under pressure that they would never normally experience. And whether there are any alternatives and other ways other than digging out which would be possible to deal with foxes that have gone to ground.
MR JACKSON: Barrie Wade will deal with these questions, Lord Burns.
MR WADE: Thank you. In which order would you like me to deal with those, Lord Burns? There are a number of points that you raised.
THE CHAIRMAN: First of all, could you deal with the extent to which there is contact between the terrier and the fox? MR WADE: My own experience of terriers is something over 35 years, to put the whole thing into context. The opponents of terrier work often suggest that terrier work is akin to causing two animals to fight below ground, linked to dog fighting, and they attempt to brutalise it in that manner. My own experience is that within 35 years I have never lost a dog below ground; I have never had a dog killed below ground; and I have never had a dog injured in such a manner as a result of work that it was necessary for me to seek professional veterinary advice. The National Working Terrier Federation drew up a Code of Conduct in 1994. It was as a result of concerns regarding such allegations, and also because of certain practices which we ourselves disapproved of. The whole basis of our code is, first of all, to identify those practices which are legal. There is a considerable amount of legal control of the activity of terrier work. We are subject to three Acts; the 1911 Cruelty to Animals Act, the 1992 Badgers Act and the 1996 Wild Mammals Protection Act. So, first of all, the purpose was to identify those practices which are legal, and, secondly, to identify those practices which are best. When I say best, that is because the intention is to minimise any risk of injury to either dog or their quarry. Does that deal with the point?
THE CHAIRMAN: Before bringing in Professor Winter, this is an issue which I think I probably have had more people speak to me about, as I went round my normal day's work, than anything else. It is something which people who have not been involved in hunting, both in terms of the descriptions of it, and whenever they see films, are surprised about, because it seems to be nothing that would be reproduced in a natural circumstances of a dog, of things being in that position underground. The part of the question which I do not know that you have addressed is whether there is any other way of dealing with this, either by bolting foxes into nets, or other ways which do not involve what many people find is a practice which is difficult to accept?
MR WADE: In terms of natural process, Lord Burns, we do cover that in our submission. From a terrier's viewpoint, it is a very natural process. As anyone who has owned a pet terrier will know, the biggest problem is not actually encouraging a terrier to go down a hole; the problem is actually preventing them from doing so. There are many recorded instances of that taking place. It is a regular function of some of our member clubs to rescue pet terriers following their natural instincts to go down holes and, because of their inexperience and more often the inexperience of their owners, get into a confused situation. In terms of the practices that you mentioned of bolting, yes, I mean, bolting is one of the methods of using terriers below ground. Specifically, our Code of Conduct indicates that the role of a terrier is to, first of all, locate their quarry below ground. I would liken that very much to the role of other animals which are involved in the hunting process. To me, the underground cover of a series of tunnels, or, as happens in the Lake District, larger rock piles, are very akin to what happens with hounds where they find a fox in dense cover. Their role is to locate that animal and then to flush it out. It is common practice to use nets. The natural instinct of a fox would be, in most instances, to actually bolt from that earth, and it does not necessarily need a terrier to do it. A terrier is the most appropriate manner of doing it, but there are many, many instances of foxes bolting from their earths as a result of minimal intervention. An example is, I have had it happen, when I have gone out with ferrets rabbiting. I have actually bolted two foxes in that way. It is not uncommon. Friends when they are out earth stopping, once again, their experience is that, whilst they are out earth stopping of an evening, because the fox is lying there very, very quiet, and has not been disturbed, the simple action of throwing soil into an earth on occasions has caused that fox to leave from another entrance hole. So, in terms of the general practices associated with terrier work, a fox which has not been hunted very often, if a terrier is entered, that would bolt very, very quickly. One of the methods is certainly to place a net over a hole, and it is one of the methods that I personally favour. It may well be that that fox is bolted to standing guns in a pest control situation; it is not uncommon. There will also be situations -- and it needs to be born in mind -- where not all foxes will bolt or can bolt. A fox earth is a combination of tunnels. It could well be that, when that terrier locates that fox, it is in what we would term a block end tunnel so it is not possible for it to bolt. If it is not in a block end, then the typical example is that a terrier, by its nature of yapping, will work, that fox around the earth, until at some point in time it is likely to bolt. Typical examples of timescales, I would guess a typical bolt would be between almost instantaneous and ten minutes. Does that help?
MR HART: One or two points, firstly, relating to terrier work, involving recognised hunting, and that is that it has been made quite clear to associations that digging is only to take place at the request of the farmer, landowner, or in some cases the gamekeeper. It is not part of the sporting aspect of the day's hunting. It is there, and is only put in place when that request is actually made. I think it is also worth pointing out that, of course, terrier work in itself is not restricted purely to hunting activities. You will have seen submissions from the National Gamekeepers Organisation, and indeed BASC, the shooting organisation, which describe in detail how important fox control with terriers is, particularly in upland areas, where they have no other way of control available to them. Finally, of course -- and Adrian Simpson will be able to comment on this -- with regard to what happens with an injured fox which may take refuge in an underground place, for example, if there are shotgun injuries or road casualty injuries, and you know that a fox is located underground, the only method available to humanely dispose of that fox is with the use of terriers.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Could I pursue the issue of regulation of terrier work during fox hunting on the day. Mr Fanshawe earlier said that the Master is solely responsible for activities on the day. I am given to understand that people are encouraged to stay away from the digging work now; the field moves on. It tends to be done by the terrier men, who are left to get on with it. 25 per cent of terrier men, according to the NWTF evidence, are members of that federation, so I am left wondering exactly who is responsible for regulation, and for reporting incidents to the NWTF on the day, if such incidents occur.
MR FANSHAWE: To repeat what I first said. The Master in charge is totally responsible for everything that happens on that day. If he wants to instruct his terrier man to despatch a fox, he will do it knowing that he has the land owner's permission. As regards going away, it undoubtedly happened in some places, and perhaps particularly in Ireland, where the whole village used to join in when there was a dig. This is deemed unacceptable. I think, in actual efficiency of despatching a fox, it is much easier if there are only one or two people present who know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. Their job is to despatch the fox and tidy up the hole when they have completed the job.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Can I just clarify that then. That means your Code of Good Practice, or your Code of Practice, would encourage people to stay away, and that means that there is not likely to be anybody there other than those engaged in that activity?
MR FANSHAWE: That is quite correct. It is at times impossible to tell the land owner, if he happens to be present with his family, to get off your land. You simply cannot do that. But I think all experienced terrier men would confirm that they find their job much easier if they are getting on with their work, with their dogs, not getting outside advice from dozens of other people who are longing to interfere. There has been a great improvement over the last ten years.
MR BUTLER: Lord Burns, could I just -- because it is extremely important this. Within the MFHA, we are particularly concerned about terrier work, the regulation of it and the supervision of it. All terrier men now are licensed within the MFHA. As you say, about 25 per cent are also members of the National Working Terrier Federation. So every single terrier man is licensed. They are licensed annually. They have to attend regular seminars where the process of well-regulated and conducted terrier work is gone through with those men who are there. They must also hold Firearms Certificates. So it has been a particular concern. Ironically, we took the view that it is not a public spectacle, and that it is a method of pest control to account for that fox quickly and as humanely as possible, whether that be netting to or digging to and shooting humanely. We took the view it was not a sport, a spectacle, for as many people as possible. The terrier man and one or two assistants were there to despatch that fox humanely, and with the rules of the licence which that terrier man has been given.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Could I follow up on the licensing. Presumably, then a terrier man would lose his licence if a case was brought forward of bad practice. How many cases of such bad practice have you had, and who have they been brought forward by?
MR BUTLER: To answer your first question, Dr Edwards, yes, if there was a case, then that terrier man would lose his licence automatically, and would not be recognised by the hunt as a terrier man. What I cannot tell you -- I am not on the Disciplinary Committee -- is how many cases have been brought forward, or how many licences revoked, but thy would be automatically revoked if those rules are broken.
MR WADE: As far as I am aware -- I cannot speak for the MFHA but -- within the Master of Mink Hounds Association, there is one example and that person was excluded. In addition to that, within the National Working Terrier Federation, we maintain a register of unsuitable persons, and that is a register at the moment that runs at approximately 20 to 25 individuals. They are people who have broken the law in certain ways. They are people who, in our opinion, are of unsuitable character, dog thieves, known associates of dog thieves, people with poaching convictions and so on and so forth.
MR JACKSON: I am told by Mr Hart that there is one pending case coming up with the MFHA at the moment.
LORD SOULSBY: If I could just go back to the comment made by Simon Hart, in which I think you said digging out is only on request. Is that so? MR HART: Yes, that was -- THE CHAIRMAN: Could I ask, what is the nature of the request? Do you assume that people agree with it, unless they tell you they do not? Or do you actually specifically go to get agreement? Is this written? Is this verbal? Are records kept of this? Is this, in other words, a casual practice, or is this something which is in terms of assessing whether or not people have agreed to it, or is it a genuine process of discovery?
MR HART: In the course of the planning of any day's hunting, either the huntsman or the Master will have a pretty good idea of the feeling of the farmers, where they are going to be, and what their attitude is to foxes in that particular area. It can vary at times of year. I can quote a number of examples where farmers wish to be digging in September, October or November, but did not wish it to happen after Christmas, for example. I have known other farmers who would stipulate at lambing time that all foxes run to ground should be dug; similarly with keepers in areas where pheasants are a particularly valuable crop. But the one thing for certain is that no organiser of a day's hunting will dig where he is not certain that he has the full support of the land owner. That can sometimes be given at the beginning of the season. The land owner can say, "Yes, fine, if you run a fox to ground, we would like you to dig it." Other times it will vary day-to-day. One thing is for sure, there would be serious repercussions for anybody who went against that particular permission, and, what is more, a Master would not want to do that, simply because if he offended the particular land owner by disobeying the instructions the chances of him being able to hunt there again are greatly diminished.
LORD SOULSBY: How many hunts would end up without digging out taking place?
MR HART: Do you mean where the fox has--
LORD SOULSBY: Where the fox has gone to ground and the decision is to leave it there?
MR HART: It would be impossible to produce a statistic because it varies so much. Certainly, in parts of the world digging is far more frequent. In parts of Wales, 80 per cent of the annual cull of foxes is via the use of terriers. In other parts of England perhaps it is a little bit less, but it would be a relatively small proportion, about as accurate as I could get, of the actual number of foxes which are hunted to the number of foxes which are marked to ground, which are the number of foxes which are actually then dug out at the request of that particular land owner.
LORD SOULSBY: There seems to me a dichotomy of authority here with the owner of the land, the huntsman and the terrier man, but I might be wrong. Am I wrong in suspecting that?
MR BUTLER: Lord Soulsby, I do not think it is a dichotomy at all. The decision to dig, whether it be within the MFHA rules, on a day's traditional fox hunting -- and Barrie Wade of the National Working Terrier Federation will correct me -- or whether it be within their rules and codes of conduct, the authority to dig on that land rests with the land owner.
THE CHAIRMAN: We are limited in terms of time. I would like to move on to the question of the kill and the end of the hunt. I mean, there are basically two stories which one finds in the evidence. One, which one might say is the pro-hunting story, is that when the hounds catch the fox it is instant death by severing the cervical cord. On occasions it might be bowled over by the first dog and it is then killed by the second. The challenge is that it is often the case that the fox is disembowelled alive. What is the balance, would you say, of these two versions? Presumably, it is not all or nothing in either case, and I do not suppose either side suggests that it is all or nothing. But do you have any feel as to this? And do you have any evidence that could influence, in a sense, that debate about what the outcome is at the end of a hunt, because I think this is another issue which receives a lot of attention?
MR JACKSON: Brian Fanshawe will help on this, supported by Simon Hart?
MR FANSHAWE: Lord Burns, as far as the evidence is concerned, the Vets for Hunting, in their submission, said that the kill occurs quickly, with the lead hound snatching the fox and dislocating the neck somewhat in the a terrier would kill a rat. They further say the cause of death is probably cervical dislocation. This is confirmed by Cunningham 1999 on the basis of three autopsies carried out some years ago. More recently, Mr Bob Baskerville has recorded similar findings, post mortem in foxes killed by hounds, using X-ray radiography. I understand he has sent his report in. The hound when he catches the fox is above the fox and he catches the fox across the shoulders or the back of the neck. One of the reasons he does that is the same action as the terrier killing the rat. They know jolly well that if they do not catch the fox that way that they will be bitten back. It is virtually impossible for the hound to, firstly, grab the fox by the belly. Actually, although it is not relevant to what I am saying, at a conference last week, Professor Harris said that most foxes were killed by disembowelling, and it is very quick, but I would say that foxes are not killed by disembowelling.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just interrupt. Are you saying that this never happens, or does this only happens in a very small proportion of occasions?
MR FANSHAWE: We have taken opinion from a number of experienced huntsman, which we have not yet submitted, and the huntsman who have hunted over a great many years. In total, there are over 75,000 kills that they have been a part of. Of those 75,000, there are only 25 where we have recordings when something marginal has gone wrong; and the reasons have been interference from opponents to hunting, foxes losing their balance, particularly going downhill very sharply or on particularly rocky territory, and very occasionally a young hound.
MR JACKSON: So that is 25 cases out of 75,000 cases, Lord Burns. There will be a further submission on this if it helps the Inquiry.
MR FANSHAWE: Further evidence, again -- it is opinion but it is independent -- I would like to refer the Inquiry to what Mr Richard Phelps said in his submission. If you would like me to I will read it out, but you have probably read it.
PROFESSOR WINTER: Could we turn attention to deer just for a moment. We know the standard format that is presented to us of deer being brought to bay and then despatched by shooting. Clearly, we have also seen some video evidence of that not always working in quite the right way. So have you any idea of what proportion of cases it does not quite work, where obviously hounds are biting at the deer before the person comes to catch at the end and despatch it?
MR YANDLE: Thank you. I have seen many kills in my life, and I have to say that I suppose there is bound to be sometimes human error when using a gun. So I would estimate something like 1 in 20 kills, 5 per cent, when a second shot might have to be used. I have also seen the videos that you have seen. The time between when the deer was brought to bay and it was killed with a pistol shot is very short, something in the region of 38 seconds, the particular one. I would like to point out that that is not a long period of time, compared to any other form of killing deer with a rifle or whatever.
LORD SOULSBY: When you say 1 in 20 may require a second shot, is that with the free bullet or a captive bolt?
MR YANDLE: The hunt gun is a folding shotgun, under the auspices of the British Deer Act, which allows a short-barrelled gun, loaded with buck shot, which is a very effective weapon at close quarters. If the person using that should have not killed the deer, then it is much more likely to be, if it was wounded, killed with a free bullet in a humane killer. It could equally be killed by a captive bolt, but the free bullet is probably more efficient in this particular case. So the second shot is usually because of it not being a clean kill, but it does not happen very often. There is, I suppose, the odd time -- in fact, I know that there is an odd time -- when the shot with the shotgun actually misses altogether. It might -- you are aiming at the back of the head, at quite close quarters with the shotgun, and you do not have much spread with the bullet, and you might well hit the horn, or something like that, then of course there is a time lag between that shot, putting another cartridge in the gun if it is a single barrelled gun, and the second shot. It should not be more than a few seconds, but that could be the second shot.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think this question about the kill and the issue of the conflicting evidence here is something that I do not think we can go into much further today, but obviously it is an issue which keeps cropping up. We will be seeking over the course of the rest of the inquiry to try and see what there is in terms of evidence on this. We may have to come back to that. We have five minutes before we are due to break. I would like to raise the question at this stage in terms of control of hounds; issues of trespass; the question of hounds turning up where they are not welcome. There is another issue on which we have had a lot of letters from people who are against hunting, and who described events when they have been seriously inconvenienced by hunting because of either being on their land when they did not want them or because of the general intrusion. I think I would like to ask how far you think this is a problem and you recognise it as a problem. What are the things that you are able to do, and are trying to do about that? And to what extent does the disciplinary process deal effectively with complaints of this type?
MR JACKSON: Brian Fanshawe and Tom Yandle will deal with this, and Sam Butler will sweep up on it.
MR FANSHAWE: The control of the hounds during the day is solely the responsibility of the huntsman and his whippers in. I think the misconception about the control of hounds is that frequently the hounds will be hunting their quarry several fields in front of the mounted field, including the hunt staff. They are seen by the public to be out of control; they are not out of control whilst they are hunting the fox. They are totally concentrated on their job of hunting the fox. We have difficulty explaining that they are still within the control. The huntsman can control his hounds from quite a distance by the use of his horn, or, indeed, even his movements. There has been, over the last ten years of villages developing, and perhaps more foxes feeding in villages, instances where hounds have run into villages. Hunting is very aware of this. Everything is done, when villages are approached, that the huntsman and his whippers in get very close to the hounds so that they can deviate them away. But it is very difficult to teach a hound, whose single task is to hunt the fox, that somebody's garden is not an area where he, the hounds, have permission. So there are instances; we are aware of it, and everything is done to limit these occasions. We have referred to the Independent Supervising Authority. I dare say that will be where some of the complaints in future might come from.
MR YANDLE: By its very essence, deer hunting is selective. That means, as you might have seen on your visits, that hounds are quite often stopped because they are on the wrong deer. That happens several times during the day. To me, that emphasises the fact that hounds are being properly controlled.
MR BUTLER: Lord Burns, it is a problem. The built-up areas, it is illegal to be on a motorway or a railway. You, indeed, I suspect, have had a great number of letters that have reached you on the subject, and indeed there are plenty of press articles. I think the problem is of public relations. Where the hunts -- and I know this by sitting on the MFHA committee, and my experience of the campaign funding -- are able to identify incidents, visit those who own gardens, et cetera, very often those matters can be put to rest straight away. Wherever there is damage, or problems to private property, hunts indeed will put that right, and indeed many of them are insured for the major incidents. The number of instances actually referred to the insurers are very small indeed. The problems with livestock and damage of crops are, again, very small, minimal. We can provide details of those to the Committee, if required, at a later date. They are in the public domain. But it is something that hunting has to address, and is addressing all the time. Indeed, there is a sub-committee working on the amalgamation of hunts and boundary changes as we speak, and that was a recommendation of the Phelps Report.
PROFESSOR SIR JOHN MARSH: Given that there is an increasing amount of the territory which is now built-up, including roads and so forth, does this, effectively, mean the territory over which you can hunt is diminishing all the time?
MR BUTLER: Sir John, that is correct. Certainly in southern England, the territory over which one can hunt is diminishing, but hunts indeed are amalgamating and hunts are reducing the number of times they actually go hunting in a season to make up for that.
DR VICTORIA EDWARDS: Could I follow up on the hounds and their knowledge of private boundaries and so forth. I accept, quite happily, that they do not know about private property and where they are not allowed. To what extent do the hounds also know about non-quarry species. It seems, reading the evidence, that the domestic pets that come off worse are probably cats and the feline species. To what extent are the hounds trained not to scent and kill cats? Is it possible, for example, to introduce them to cats in the way that they are introduced to livestock; so that they do not follow that?
MR HART: Dr Edwards, the upbringing of hounds from puppies to when they go hunting is generally in the company of all sorts of animals, cats included. The instances of cats being killed by fox hounds are well documented, and no doubt have been submitted to you. There is never an excuse; there is never a good reason; we can never in any way try and reduce the trauma that catching a cat obviously causes. Most of us are cat owners understand that only too well. What I can say is that recorded instances of fox hounds killing cats you can count on the fingers of one hand, bearing in mind that on an average year 22,500 hunting days take place. Hounds are out of their kennel from 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock on those days. In the last ten years, if one calculates that up, I am pleased -- if that is the right word -- to say that the incidence of where that occurs are extremely negligible. I think one can finally say that it is sadly not uncommon for a domestic dog to catch a cat, sometimes out in the middle of nowhere, a wild cat or indeed a domestic one. It is not unheard of, but I think that the incidences are so minimal that it is a reasonable reflection of the efforts that professional huntsman go to, to ensure that their hounds hunt only fox are in 99.9 per cent of occasions entirely satisfactory.
THE CHAIRMAN: Final question, and then we must break. The rules, as I recall, for coursing require that nobody should interfere with the flight of the hare. There are not similar rules for other forms of hunting. Spectators and people around do, as I understand it, interfere both with the flight of the fox and with the deer. Is this something which is a cause for concern to you? Is it something you encourage? Or is it something which is out of your control? Or do you not think that it matters; it is a normal part of hunting?
MR JACKSON: When Tom Yandle referred Lord Burns to a filming incident, which was explained to the Inquiry involved interference with the deer -- Tom.
MR YANDLE: Thank you. The fact that there are, as you saw last week, lots of onlookers at a deer hunt often means that, inadvertently, the followers are on a road which is a public road. It is quite difficult to stop them being on that road when the deer would want to cross the road. So, yes, sadly, sometimes people do interfere with the flight of the deer. There have, as our Chairman says, been instances when people, other people who have been training to film perhaps the death of the deer, have got in the way and, we think, created -- in fact, we know created -- an incident that was more serious than it should have been before. So it does happen. I think all hunts do their best to make sure that human interference to the quarry species is lessened or minimised, but certainly it is bound to happen when people are watching from public highways.
MR BUTLER: Lord Burns, fox hunting and hare hunting are very much based on hunting the quarry in its wild and natural state. The only people who should hunt the hounds are the professional staff who have been brought up to it, trained to it. We know that the Copper the fox incident example, that may have been brought to your attention, would not have occurred had it not been for interference from third parties. To answer your question directly: Do we encourage people to interfere with the flight or the hunting of the quarry species? The answer is no.
THE CHAIRMAN: That applies in the case of stag hunting too, does it, in cases where it is thought that the stag might be going onto land that you are prohibited from hunting on?
MR YANDLE: If you have lots of followers in vehicles, it would be natural for them to go to one of the boundaries. I would hope that they would do no more than be there. It has happened in the past. I think you have probably been given photographic evidence that people were trying to turn a deer from a certain place, but do not forget there are people that keep these deer. The hunt is a reasonable procedure on Exmoor. It is a management tool. A lot of people get very upset by people trying to interfere with that. So, yes, it has happened in the way that you say, but it does not happen very much. We are doing our best to reduce the incidence of people interfering with the flight of deer.
MR BUTLER: May I just qualify my comments. There are, of course, instances that we have discussed this morning during autumn hunting where a fox or the hounds may not be allowed to go on a particular farm, railways, motorways, built-up areas, where hunts may well position people to discourage the quarry species from going onto that area, because it is either illegal or because hounds have been asked specifically not to go there, or we know they are not wanted. I am sorry, I think that would be interference from that point of view.
MR FANSHAWE: And if I might add, for safety reasons.
THE CHAIRMAN: I think we must break now. There are quite a lot of issues here that we have still not covered in this session. I think I would like to reflect over the course of the remainder of the morning whether to start the afternoon session with one or two of the outstanding points, or whether to try and come to them at the end of the afternoon session, but I would like to reflect on that if I may. Thank you very much for the evidence that we have had so far.
Back to top