COMMITTEE of INQUIRY into HUNTING with DOGS
Chaired by Lord Burns
Written Submission from DEADLINE 2000
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Summary of Deadline 2000’s position
Evidence from the Written Submissions
Evidence from the Oral Submissions Transcripts
6th April 2000 - 10:30
6th April 2000 - 14:00
10thApril 2000 - 10:30
10th April 2000 - 14:00
Evidence from the Research Seminars
The Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs has invited a second written submission from the organisations represented by Deadline 2000. This submission has been prepared in response to that invitation and identifies specific areas of disagreement with evidence submitted by other parties. It should not be assumed that this submission is exhaustive; given the short time available to consider evidence, it is restricted to points that Deadline 2000 consider will assist the committee in its inquiries.
Summary of Deadline 2000’s position.
- Hunting with dogs is cruel and unnecessary.
- Hunting with dogs is ineffective in controlling the populations of quarry species. *
- Methods that are both effective and more humane than hunting with dogs can effect targeted control of the quarry species, if shown to be necessary.
- Realistic alternatives to live quarry hunting are available for those who wish to ride to hounds, including drag and bloodhound hunting. For those who enjoy riding horses in the countryside, a variety of alternative equestrian sports exist.
- The economic impact of a ban on hunting will be limited and quickly compensated for, by growth in the rural economy.
- Social activities associated with live quarry hunts will continue in the event of a ban on hunting with dogs or will be absorbed into other events within rural communities.
- A ban on hunting with dogs is legally enforceable.
* Mounted hunts and fell packs.
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Evidence from the Written Submissions.
Most areas where there appeared to be conflicts in the written evidence were discussed at the oral submissions to the Inquiry; these submissions are considered in some detail below. However, we wish to reaffirm our opposition to certain statements contained within the written submission made to the Inquiry by the Countryside Alliance.
- Submission from the Countryside Alliance
- 1.7. The Alliance states that hunting mimics natural predation and that prolonged pursuit of the quarry species occurs in nature. Hunting is seen as being "as humane" as other methods of killing the quarry species. Hunting does not ‘resemble natural predation’. Deer are not subjected to prolonged chases in their natural environment. (Bateson & Bradshaw 1997, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London vol. 264.). Large predators have been absent from Britain for many years; deer have had no experience and thus no learned ‘culture’ of large predators. It is unlikely that adult foxes have ever been predated upon to a significant degree in Britain. Killing with dogs is not "as humane as other methods available". This latter point is discussed in detail in the welfare section of the oral evidence review below. We do not accept that hunting with dogs makes a contribution to the health of the populations of the quarry species.
- 2.1 – 2.5. Deadline 2000 considers that the contributions to the rural economy claimed by the Alliance as being attributable to hunting with dogs are, for the most part, attributable to horse ownership. The Alliance does not give a figure for the number of horses that are used only for hunting. The submission to the Inquiry from the International League for the Protection of Horses speculates that the figure could be as high as 10% of an estimated 60,000 horses that hunt. This figure is arguable and is, in our opinion, high. However, when seen against an estimated national (UK) horse population of 948,000 (and growing)(RSPCA data), 6000 hunters surplus to requirements represents 0.6% of the national figure. That number of horses should be taken up by the usual demands for replacement or new animals.
However, it should be noted that the above discussion does not take account of the likelihood that some hunts will convert to drag hunting.
- The Alliance submission claims that hunting supports "nearly 23,000 full-time jobs". Recent submissions to the Inquiry, from the team commissioned to report to the seminar on economic issues (PACEC), are broadly in line with Deadline 2000 submissions and that of Sean Rickard; that the highest number of full-time jobs that might be at risk is around, or less than 4000.
- 4.6 "In the view of the Alliance, drag and bloodhound hunting, as they exist today, do not substitute for live quarry hunting…" (our italics). There has been considerable debate about the practical aspects of drag hunting. The oral submissions to the Inquiry, at the seminar dedicated to drag hunting, and in particular those from the Masters of Drag Hounds and Bloodhounds Association, demonstrated that drag hunting is practised in a number of different styles. Some drag hunts concentrate on challenges for the rider particularly jumps: others place more emphasis on working the hounds. One of the major criticisms of drag hunting is a lack of unpredictability that characterises a live quarry hunt. However, the proceedings of the seminar clearly showed that for the majority of the hunting field, the line of the drag is unknown. Deadline 2000 contends that within the variety of practices that currently exists, many people who now fox hunt would find or develop a form of drag hunting to suit their interests.
- 4.14 The Alliance does not believe that farmers would make land available to drag hunts in the event of a ban on live quarry hunting. The submission to the Inquiry’s seminar on drag hunting from Manley et al clearly showed that some farmers would allow new drag hunts on their land. 55% of grassland farmers indicated that they would allow drag hunting; this figure rose to 77% given the likelihood of a financial incentive. These results are consistent with the evidence submitted to the Inquiry by the League against Cruel Sports.
- 5.1 – 5.26 The Countryside Alliance states on a number of occasions that hunting with dogs is effective in controlling the populations of the quarry species. We disagree with these statements and refer to the papers submitted to the Inquiry at its seminar on pest control, by Professor Stephen Harris and Dr David McDonald. Their conclusion is unambiguous: that with the exception of gun-packs in upland areas, hunting with dogs is ineffective in controlling the populations of the quarry species.
- 6.3 The Alliance claim that hunting with dogs is selective. In our oral evidence, we showed that selection in respect of stags was for a "handsome animal with fine antlers", and that in respect of hinds and other species there was no selection.
- 10.4 "200 hunts collect 366,000 head of fallen stock per annum." (Alliance submission). We are concerned that this figure, taken from the Produce Studies’ report, may be misleading. It is difficult to obtain accurate figures for the numbers of animal carcasses disposed of nationally. However, we are of the opinion that the figure given is high. An unquantifiable number of fallen stock carcasses is delivered by farmers to the hunt kennels; these are not collected. Furthermore, it is usual practice to quantify the significance of animal carcasses in relation to the effort required to process them. Livestock units are used and a large animal carcass, such as a bovine is ‘worth’ three sheep. Most fallen stock disposed of through hunt kennels are calves. These have a low significance in terms of livestock units and we believe that the overall contribution of hunt kennels to fallen stock disposal is low.
- "These 200 hunts spend a total of £3.37 million annually on collecting this stock". A substantial part of this figure will be costs incurred in disposal of material through renderers. No allowance appears to have been made for out-of- pocket expenses passed on to farmers; nor for income generated as most kennels make a collection charge.
- "Hunting promotes the survival of the fittest"(Alliance submission). We dispute this statement in our written evidence. Most foxes killed are young adults, particularly males. Few foxes survive in the wild into ‘old age’.
- 13.5 "Hunting promotes balance"(Alliance submission). The evidence presented at the pest control seminar by Dr MacDonald and Professor Stephen Harris showed that hunting with dogs (mounted hunts and fell-packs) does not play a role in the regulation of quarry species populations.
- Deadline 2000 substantially disagrees with most of section 13 of the Alliance’s written submission. We have stated on a number of occasions that ‘the chase’ is cruel and unnecessary. We refer the committee to the opening address by Deadline 2000 at the oral submissions 10th April 2000 ‘Animal Welfare’. We accept the conclusions presented to the Committee’s research seminar on animal welfare by Professor Bateson and we note that, in general, Professor Roger Harris supported the conclusions, at the same seminar. The ‘kill’ is discussed in some detail in the following sections of this submission. In 13.24 the Alliance states that deer are shot after being brought to bay and that "death will therefore almost always be instantaneous". We have presented evidence to show that on a number of occasions, the hounds attack the deer prior to its despatch. Furthermore, a number of deer are manhandled to allow the use of a close range pistol. The welfare of deer handled in this way at the end of a long chase could hardly be worse. (See Bateson (Report to the National Trust) 4.11 pg12 – "Of greater concern may be the number of incidents in which deer are handled by people at the end of the hunt. The hunts estimated that they used a humane killer, which usually involves holding the deer, at 20 – 30% of the kills.")
- 13.26 –13.42 The subjects of artificial earths and stopping up are addressed in the oral evidence section.
- 13.45 The Alliance has implied that all working hounds would of necessity be destroyed in the event of a ban on hunting with dogs. Deadline 2000 disputes this assertion. We have submitted evidence that hounds can be retrained for use in drag hunts. No definitive studies have been carried out to determine the suitability of hounds for re-homing; there is anecdotal evidence, principally from hunt members who have adopted retired hounds. Furthermore, in some hunts, dogs are kept at home by hunt members during the off-season; these are often the same people who kept and walked the dogs as puppies. The Welsh Federation of Packs state in their submission that hounds were in kennels during the winter but ‘go out to the local farms’ for the summer. We ask the committee to note that a ban would result in a ‘one off’ dispersal of hounds; other activities such as greyhound racing produce an ongoing surplus of dogs for re-homing.
- 14.1 – 14.16 Deadline 2000 wishes to restate its support for alternative methods of control of the quarry species. As we have stated in evidence, we are confident that shooting represents the most humane method of killing foxes, deer and hare in their natural environment with minimum distress perceptible to the animal. It is essential that the shooter is competent and using an appropriate weapon and load, at a range appropriate to the weapon. A combination of humane trapping and shooting is recommended for the control of mink.
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Evidence from the Oral Submissions Transcripts.
I. 6th April 2000 – 10.30am
- The Countryside Alliance has stated that the practice known as ‘cubbing’ or ‘autumn hunting’ is carried out to "cull a reasonable number of foxes", "to disperse concentrations of foxes which have built up at that particular time of year" and "to introduce young hounds … to the practice of hunting". We agree with the last statement but contest the effectiveness of the first and second in our written submissions.
- The Alliance states that ‘cubbing’ begins in September and that "they (the foxes) are fully grown, totally independent of their parents..". We disagree with these statements. Cubbing may begin in late July or August when cubs are still immature. They may not reach adult size until the end of the year of birth. (See growth curves in Lloyd, H.G. 1980 The Red Fox, Batsford.)
- The Alliance goes on to state that "One of the purposes of hunting at that time of year (autumn) 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 the possible risk of overpopulation..". We disagree with this statement in our written evidence.
i.b. Stopping Earths and Artificial Earths
- The Alliance stated in evidence that "very few hunts at all have artificial earths" and "Earth stopping’s principal purpose (sic) 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". On earth stopping, it was also stated by the Alliance in evidence that "Earth stopping has always been interpreted as a system whereby hunts can be prolonged ..." (The Alliance disagrees with this interpretation). We have submitted evidence to show that artificial earths are more widespread than the first statement implies and that some earths are of recent construction. We also have evidence that at least one purpose of earth stopping is to prolong the chase by preventing the fox from ‘going to earth’: stopping has been observed on the morning of the hunt. Badger setts are also stopped. There appears to be little justification for this procedure, other than to prevent foxes bolting into setts as a means of escape, during the hunt; it is carried out to prolong the chase.
i.c. Terrier Work
- On being questioned about the extent of the injuries that occur as a result of underground encounters between terriers and foxes, Mr Wade stated "My own experience is that within 35 years I have never lost a dog 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." Deadline 2000’s evidence shows that terrier work can result in severe injury to the dogs involved and by inference, to the foxes. The post-mortem evidence submitted to the Inquiry by Bristol University confirms the latter point.
- The Alliance has stated that it believes underground encounters between terriers and foxes to be of short duration: "Typical examples of timescales, I would guess a typical bolt would be almost instantaneous and ten minutes" and "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." No timescale was offered for the latter scenario. However, Alliance evidence suggests that the terriers mark the position of the trapped fox by barking. It is then ‘dug out’. These ‘block end tunnel’ encounters can be prolonged and they result in fights between terrier and fox causing injury.
i.d. The Kill
- In its evidence, the Countryside Alliance cited the submission from the ‘Vets for Hunting’. In this submission, references were made to radiographic evidence, attributed to Baskerville, (Unpublished), and post-mortem evidence, (Cunningham 1999). We do not accept the Baskerville evidence: radiographic evidence without a detailed post-mortem examination is unreliable as abnormalities visible on a radiograph may have occurred after death. In our opinion, the Cunningham evidence does not demonstrate that neck dislocation caused insensibility. Neck dislocation must result in immediate, total severance of the spinal cord to render the animal insensible. We accept that hounds may cause severe crushing injuries to the neck of a fox, but the animal is not necessarily rendered insensible and thus unaware of pain. In Deadline 2000 evidence, we cite a study carried out by the Universities Federation For Animal Welfare, in which 53 hare killed by hounds were subjected to detailed post-mortem examinations and seven authenticated post-mortem examinations of cats (n=3) and foxes (n=4) killed by hounds. We also produced veterinary evidence of injuries caused to animals, that were attacked by hounds, but which survived. In none of these cases was neck dislocation, caused by hounds, found to be the cause of death or injury. This is consistent with observation and video evidence which shows that hounds kill their quarry in a typically canid fashion; the pursued animal is bowled over and grasped by the hound. The dog shows no predilection to bite the neck of its quarry. Further support comes from the Inquiry’s own post-mortem evidence, submitted by Bristol University.
- The Alliance states that "foxes are not killed by disembowelling". This is disputed by Deadline 2000. Post –mortem evidence suggests that most foxes killed by hounds die as a result of haemorrhage caused by injuries to the thorax or abdomen. The independent post-mortem examinations carried out by Bristol University, for the Inquiry, support our evidence.
Deerhunting was not covered in detail in this session.
I.iii. Control of Hounds
The League Against Cruel Sports will make a separate submission to the inquiry in support of its ‘Hunt Havoc’ evidence.
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II 6th April 2000 - 2.30 pm
- Mr Burke stated that "I hope you have not been too influenced by submissions from the other side", and "we have two chief figures in hand. We have 16,000 from Produce which relates to fox hunting and 23,000 from Cobham, relating to all hunting." Evidence submitted to the Committee of Inquiry by Sean Rickard and the draft PACEC report highlight the misleading nature of these latter claims made to the Committee by the Countryside Alliance. PACEC says that the real figure for job losses in the worse case scenario is 3,706. That estimate is based on the assumption that nothing replaces live quarry hunting. Sean Rickard’s analysis of job losses in the same worse case scenario is 3,330.
- Mr Andrews expressed the opinion that the rural economy, whilst buoyant, would not prevent "very severe disruption to those businesses and those jobs". (Which have a connection with hunting). Deadline 2000 contends that the economic impact of a ban on hunting will be limited and quickly compensated for, by growth in the rural economy. . The Alliance has argued that "the vast majority of rural businesses are either sole traders, or small businesses, people with below ten employees" (Richard Burge in oral evidence session three, see also 3.11 of the Alliance written submission). Self-employed people tend to be capable and entrepreneurial and would seek ways to offset any loss of business caused by a ban on hunting with dogs. It is precisely because they do not have "the cushion of a redundancy package payment" (Alliance 3.11) that they would urgently seek new sources of income.
- In response to an issue raised by Sir John Marsh, Deadline 2000 recognises that some unskilled hunt workers currently directly employed by hunts may have difficulty finding new employment should live quarry hunts disband. However, it is likely that some hunts will convert to drag hunting or other equestrian activities. In this respect, we would ask the Committee of Inquiry to consider that:
The development of a more enterprising approach to drag and bloodhound hunting may be one scenario that could emerge from a ban on live quarry hunting as argued by Dr Neil Ward in the ‘Foxing the Nation’ study submitted to the Committee of Inquiry with our first round submissions.
There is likely to be increasing employment in the service sector to agriculture, for example, agricultural waste.
It is significant that many rural hunting areas under discussion (e.g. Devon and Cumbria) qualify for European funding under Objectives 1 and 2. Regeneration funding is more likely to be available in these areas because organisations such as the Countryside Agency and local authorities have formed rural partnerships; effort is put into diversifying the economy, retraining and tourism. Unskilled workers directly employed by hunts could benefit from such initiatives.
- Mr Andrews commented on the effects that a reduction in horse ownership might have. All sides are agreed that the important determinant of the economic impact of a hunting ban will be what hunt participants subsequently decide to do with their horses. This point was discussed in the section of this submission dealing with the written submissions from the Countryside Alliance. Deadline 2000 wishes to re-emphasise that in recent years horse ownership has been increasing against a background of declining numbers of live quarry hunts. There are currently 948 000 horses (RSPCA data) compared to 600 000 in 1991 (Matson) Since 1965, 42 hunts have disbanded and the number of packs of hounds has declined from 353 to 311 (12%) while the number of drag and bloodhound packs has trebled from 8 to 28. Less than 7% of British horses are involved in hunting, which supports our view that a ban on hunting will have little impact on equine related expenditure.
II.ii Social and Cultural Issues.
- In evidence, the Alliance refers to the Exmoor area to illustrate general points. "Exmoor is fairly limited in its social life.. they will all agree that the major part of their social life is involved with hunt functions." (Mr Yandle). As was demonstrated at the Inquiry’s seminar on the Social and Cultural impact of hunting with dogs, Exmoor has characteristics which do not make it representative of England and Wales. Milbourne et al in the paper presented to the above seminar state "Hunting appeared to represent a relatively insignificant part of the day-to-day lives of most residents – only one quarter considered hunting to be an important part of their lives..". This study looked at four areas at the heart of hunting countries.
- Deadline 2000 acknowledges that to those who hunt, hunt related social activities are important. We do not accept the theme of the Alliance’s submissions, that rural communities are in some way given a degree of cohesion that would not exist were hunting to be banned. The research presented by Milbourne et al does not support this view.
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III 10thApril 2000 – 10.30am
III.i. Predation by foxes
- When questioned about the degree to which the fox may be considered an agricultural pest, the Alliance put forward little evidence to support an argument that foxes are a significant pest in relation to lamb predation. Mr Fanshawe made reference to Game Conservancy research. However, this dealt with the perception among farmers of lamb losses and no attempt was made to verify reported losses. What is perceived to be the case may differ from what is actually the situation regarding losses. As MAFF point out the debate revolves around the extent to which foxes may be killing lambs or merely acting as a scavenger on animals which are already dead. Scientific investigations, referred to in the submissions from Deadline 2000, which have sought to differentiate between scavenging on dead lambs rather than predation on live lambs, have clearly indicated that while foxes may take large quantities of carrion, the actual loss of live lambs is very low.
- During questioning Mr Wise stated that foxes have no significant effect in controlling rabbit numbers. He attributed this opinion to Professor Stephen Harris. As was pointed out in our submissions, very detailed studies by MAFF in England and Wales demonstrated that rabbits are more widespread and abundant, to a significant degree, where predators have been removed and are at low density. (Trout, R. C. & Tittensor, A. M. (1989) Mammal Rev.19.153-173.). This work was also referred to in the publication ‘Is the fox a pest?’, of which Professor Harris was a co-author. This publication considered that foxes could prove beneficial to some sectors of agriculture, because they predate on rabbits and voles. As further support, we cited predator removal experiments in Australia. At two sites in which foxes were killed, rabbit populations grew to 6.5 and 12 times their initial sizes within 18 months. (Banks, P et al (1998) Journal of Wildlife Management 62.766-772.)
i.c. Other wildlife
- During questioning Mr Wise thought that it was "likely that small mammals, hares and significant numbers of ground nesting birds are threatened in part at least by the heavy predation by foxes." However, no evidence was presented to support the contention. There is some evidence that fox predation may be important in the conservation of some species, e.g. terns nesting at a coastal site in Norfolk. However, this is a localised instance that is managed without recourse to hunting foxes with dogs. This view was expressed by the Director General of the Wildlife Trusts in his covering letter to the Inquiry. He states that the Trusts accept that there is a need to control foxes in certain circumstances, when there is a compelling nature conservation reason for doing so, e.g., to protect rare species. These instances are localised, restricted and not widespread and the Trusts could not envisage circumstances when hunting with dogs would be the most effective way of controlling foxes.
III.ii. Fox control
ii.a. Regional aspects
- During questioning, Mr Hobson cited Game Conservancy (GC) research to support a view that hunting with dogs is the only method of fox control that acts on a regional scale. The GC raised this regional perspective. However, as they pointed out in their written submission, the Game Conservancy researchers "asked farmers to indicate from a prompt list the aims of their culling policy…" (our emphasis). This list included ‘contributing to the regional control of foxes’. However, in a paper to be published in the Journal of Zoology this summer by Heydon and Reynolds, the authors remark that "Some questions (in the GC. questionnaire) were formatted so that respondents selected answers from a selection of options. This strategy has the merit of stimulating responses, but the disadvantage of potentially seeding ideas." Was the survey therefore unbiased or did it seed the notion in potential respondents?
- Deadline 2000 believes that the Game Conservancy’s attempt to justify the killing of any foxes in the guise of regional control is a retrograde step. It is analogous to the position that ‘the only good fox is dead one’ rather than their previously held view, in which the responsible way forward was to control predation rather than predator numbers. (Mike Swan & Stephen Tapper (1992) Game Conservancy Review of 1991, p58-59. Stephen Tapper (1992) Game Heritage. p106-107.)
- We welcome the acknowledgement by Mr Fanshawe that a clean shot with a rifle is the most humane method of killing a fox. However, he reported that gamekeepers are only able to achieve 33% of their cull by the use of the rifle. There is a separate argument as to whether there is a need to kill so many foxes. Leaving this aside, we would point out that such a figure, which relates to shooting at night with a rifle and spotlight, differs from the data provided in the submission by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, who indicated that on average, 57% of foxes killed by gamekeepers were shot.
ii.c. Wounding rates
- Mr Wise sought to dismiss the data from the RSPCA’s wildlife hospitals regarding foxes with shooting injuries. However, as we pointed out during our submission, the very low wounding rate indicated by such data was one end of a spectrum. At the other end were unsubstantiated claims, dismissed by shooting organisations, that 90 per cent of foxes shot were wounded. We note that no hard evidence was forthcoming from the Alliance during the oral submissions about the extent of any wounding in foxes arising from shooting. Thus the only evidence that does exist appears to be that from the wildlife hospitals, which indicates that large numbers of foxes are not being left injured as a result of shooting.
III.iii. Red Deer
- In evidence, Mr Yandle stated that "On Exmoor, the deer population is generally considered to be in the region of 3,000." This figure misrepresents the true position and understates the numbers of deer present in the area. As Langbein pointed out in his 1997 report, referred to in the RSPCA submission, visual censuses show that a minimum of 3,000 red deer are present on the combined area of the Exmoor ESA and the Quantock hills. Assessing deer numbers is difficult and it is generally acknowledged that such visual censuses are likely to be underestimates. In their study for the National Trust, Langbein and Putman (1992) assessed deer numbers from faecal accumulation. This suggested that the red deer population of Exmoor and the Quantocks, with adjoining areas was close to 7,000. It is important to have accurate population data as a baseline, to determine the level of culling that may be needed and to assess the relative contributions of shooting and hunting with dogs.
- Using his figure of 3000, Mr Yandle argued that it was necessary to cull approximately 500 deer, the hunt accounting for some150, leaving 350 to be killed by other means, of which some 250 were killed by shooting. These figures are not supported by research conducted by Langbein and Putman. They considered that 500-700 deer were shot in the Exmoor National Park with the total for the Exmoor and Quantock region as a whole being in excess of 1,000. From these figures it is clear that the contribution of the deer hunts to the cull of red deer in the south west is much smaller than would be inferred from the evidence of Mr Yandle. In our opinion, his statement that deer are "shot in various little pockets for various reasons" misrepresents the situation.
- During questioning about casualty deer, Mr Yandle stated that, although he did not have exact figures, about half the casualty deer found by the hunt had some sort of bullet wound. We would question the basis for such a claim. Langbein, in his 1997 report, examined the evidence regarding injuries in deer. He noted that a breakdown of the reasons for describing deer as casualties, whether injury or debility, was not available for the 50-90 ‘casualties’ dealt with annually by the local Staghound packs,. The data that was available indicated a very low level of wounds resulting from shooting – 0.6%-1.8%.
- Mr Yandle stated that a casualty deer would not be hunted very far. This view is contradicted by examples in the study by Roger Harris et al. and we would draw attention to the notes on page 22 of that report. These describe one deer, with a leg missing below the hock, being hunted over 8 km for 47 minutes. Another, with a 2 inch hole in the shoulder, was fast hunted over 7.2 km for 45 minutes and another, which appeared unwell, was hunted over 8 km for 60 minutes.
- The Alliance’s evidence implies that locating and killing casualty deer is virtually impossible without hounds. This impression is wrong and ignores the arrangements that exist throughout the country for dealing with casualty deer. Various agencies, including the RSPCA, the police, Forestry Commission and stalkers find casualty deer in areas where there is no hunting with dogs. For example, in our oral evidence we drew attention to over 800 casualty deer dealt with by the RSPCA in the last 3 months of 1999.
III.iv. Brown Hare
- The Alliance outlined the role of hunts in monitoring hare populations. In response, we draw attention to the cautionary remarks contained in the report of the first national hare survey, referred to in the submissions. (p.63-64. Hutchings, M.R & Harris, S. (1996)). The researchers made the following observations: that the data suggests that game bag records, and sightings collected whilst hunting with packs of hounds, cannot be used as reliable monitors of changes in hare numbers in the countryside. Both monitoring schemes are based on areas in which hare numbers are higher than the average for the land class group.
- Giving evidence, Mr Blanning stated that "where hare movement had taken place, it had been an enormous and sustainable success." He further stated that the figures from the Deadline 2000 submissions, indicating that the hare population at Altcar declined in both 1989 and 1990, despite the release of 128 hares, were due to the counts taking place in very bad weather conditions. We have reread the Game Conservancy submission and the scientific paper (Stoate, C & Tapper, S. C. (1993) Gibier Faune Sauvage.10.229-240) and can find no reference to adverse weather conditions during the counts affecting the results at Altcar. Counts were not undertaken during the coursing meetings but before and after. However, we would observe that if bad weather was in fact a significant factor in influencing the data set, then the conclusions which the Game Conservancy itself drew from the results would also be invalid.
- On being questioned about control of mink, Mr Hobson stated that on those rivers which are regularly hunted for mink, mink hunting must have an effect. However, no evidence relating to support that assertion was put forward, or is provided in the submission of the Masters of Mink Hounds Association. His view is not borne out by the results of the scientific study undertaken by Birks, and referred to in the RSPCA submission, which concluded that the number of mink killed by minkhounds was insignificant.
- During questioning, Mr Hobson observed that Deadline 2000’s submission had not documented a single example of an otter being killed. However, absence of evidence of such events is not necessarily evidence of absence and the Inquiry will appreciate the difficulty of obtaining evidence. There is considerable concern amongst conservation organisations, documented in our references, and in the submission of the Wildlife Trusts, regarding the disturbance arising from of mink hunting. This information includes examples of otters abandoning areas for periods of time after a hunt visited the area.
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IV 10th April 2000 – 2.00pm.
IV.i. Animal Welfare
- The Countryside Alliance, in their opening address, make the statement that "It is easier to relate to the individual animal and it is not possible to reconcile the interests of an individual animal to be killed with those of its species taken as a whole." We disagree with this statement. For example, over most of the British Isles, red deer are controlled as a species by humane killing (shooting) of individuals.
- The Alliance made reference to the historical position of the RSPCA regarding the shooting of foxes, at the time of the Scott Henderson Report (1951)". It was stated in evidence that "in the 50-odd years that have elapsed since then, there have been no major changes that make shooting less cruel.." We disagree with the latter statement. Shooting practices have developed and the accuracy of range-finding equipment and telescopic sights has improved. Cartridge and bullet technology has improved. Organisations such as The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) have promoted better practices. As a result of these changes, all the organisations represented as Deadline 2000 consider that shooting is the most humane method of killing foxes in their natural environment, provided that the shooter is experienced and that the range, shot and load characteristics and gun type are appropriate to the circumstances.
- Mr Wise stated: "We know that shooting in the chest does not render an animal instantaneously insensible and may take several minutes….Therefore I am not at all convinced that the argument about whether it takes 10 seconds or 3 seconds to die when approached by a pack of hounds is something I find slightly out of perspective." Mr Wise has failed to appreciate a fundamental point. No method of humane killing guarantees instant insensibility when used to kill an animal that is free in its natural environment. Best practice has been defined by several organisations. In evidence, Deadline 2000 referred to the principles established by the International Whaling Commission, because they relate to the humane killing of wild mammals in those animals’ natural environment: "Humane killing means causing death without pain, stress or distress perceptible to the animal. Any humane killing technique aims first to render an animal insensitive to pain as swiftly as is technically possible." The animal hunted with hounds is caused perceptible distress. It is chased and subjected to the sounds and smells of the hound pack. On being caught by the lead hound, it is not rendered insensible as quickly as is technically possible; its welfare is very poor as it is subjected to physical insult and sensory insult in the form of sound and smell. Time is relative to the nature of the experience. An animal which is shot, as in Mr Wise’s example, through the chest, will become insensible as soon as is technically possible as a result of internal haemorrhage. Furthermore, the animal will not have been unnecessarily distressed in its natural environment. It will die without further insult.
- Douglas Wise states that "In terms of the chase itself, I think one has to put forward an extremely counterintuitive argument. There is no question that animals can experience fear but what is understood by fear in animals is probably very different from the fear that we humans would experience under similar circumstances because we have the cognitive ability to understand that we may well get killed…" Deadline 2000 do not accept this argument. The Director of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare has drawn attention to the effort that deer will make in order to escape from a perceived danger. (Kirkwood,J.K. (2000), Biologist 47.1). In the case of foxes and deer chased by dogs, the quarry animal will run to the point of exhaustion to escape. It is usual to apply the precautionary principle in respect of animals’ perceptions of fear. We cannot ever know how animals perceive fear; we must, therefore, assume that they find it as unpleasant as we do.
- Lord Soulsby asked Douglas Wise to comment on the mechanism of pain awareness. Mr Wise referred to circumstantial evidence that in humans, awareness of severe pain might be reduced by biochemical mechanisms such as endorphin release. The role of endorphins is poorly understood and cannot be applied with any confidence to animals other than higher primates.
- Mr Wise likens hunting with dogs to the natural killing of prey species of animal by predators. Britain has been free of large predators for centuries. There is a learned ‘culture’, which modifies instinctive responses in some mammals, as a result of experience, and it is now unlikely that predator evasion skills are learned by our native deer herds. We doubt that foxes were ever preyed upon to a significant degree. However, wild encounters do not involve people and are thus not subject to moral judgement. People use hounds to kill animals and as such, these acts must be judged against the standards of society.
IV.ii. Drag Hunting
- The alliance states that hunting was banned in Germany "because of the view that was taken in Germany in that period in Germany in that period on these personal freedom questions." We would point out that hunting was banned as part of measures taken to control rabies.
- We support the statement made by Mr Jackson: "it is extremely difficult and dangerous to forecast how human beings are going to behave in circumstances which they really do not want to contemplate". We believe that much of the negativity demonstrated by hunt supporters towards alternatives such as drag hunting is caused by such factors.
Deadline 2000 has a number of areas of disagreement with the Countryside Alliance on this subject; these are considered in the section that relates to the seminar on bloodhound and drag hunting.
IV.iii. Legal Issues.
Deadline 2000 is submitting papers on these topics to the legal seminar to be held on 15th May 2000.
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Evidence from the Research Seminars
Deadline 2000 does not consider that it would be helpful to the committee to produce a detailed critique of the seminar proceedings. The research presented at each seminar was discussed in detail during the proceedings. We have produced below a brief synopsis of each seminar, to summarise those points that are of particular significance.
- Animal Welfare
Deadline 2000 welcomes the research papers by Professors Harris and Bateson. Although the seminar concentrated on deer, it did nonetheless confirm that Professor Bateson’s original conclusions (Bateson & Bradshaw 1997) remain valid. The evidence demonstrates that deer show physiological changes during the ‘chase’ and that they suffer unnecessarily. Shooting was seen to be the humane alternative.
We believe that there are substantial grounds for drawing similar conclusions in respect of foxes that are chased, but in the absence of a scientific investigation, we emphasise the precautionary principle. This states that in the absence of definitive evidence, but where genuine doubt exists, the animal should be given the benefit of the doubt.
We do not accept that it is valid to apply data, collected by veterinary exercise physiologists from racehorses, to wild deer. Racehorses are highly specialised animals, produced by selective breeding for high speed chasing. There is no evidence to suggest that deer are similarly adapted. Research shows that deer sprint for short distances when threatened.
II Pest Control
We accept the research methodology and conclusions of Dr MacDonald
and Professor Stephen Harris. The seminar generally confirmed the submissions
from Deadline 2000: that mounted hunting with dogs and fell packs do not contribute
towards population control of the quarry species: that shooting represents a
more effective method of control, should control be necessary: that foxes are
not a significant agricultural pest.
III Drag and Bloodhound Hunting
Deadline 2000 was disappointed with the presentation from Manley et al. The introductory analysis of past surveys was, in our view, unnecessarily laboured and largely irrelevant. The economic conclusions were, in our opinion, based on assumptions and doubtful methodology, which mixed capital and revenue expenditure. Furthermore, the significance of some conclusions was affected by inclusion of data from one respondent in an inconsistent fashion.
The hunts featured in the research demonstrated distinct and individual characteristics and we are concerned that it is dangerous to extrapolate general conclusions from this small sample. However, the differences between the different hunts were interesting. They show that this is a varied sport that adapts to the interests of the particular hunt. Of particular interest was the North East Cheshire Hunt which resemble a fox hunt in many ways: it has 51 hounds, a flesh house, a large field averaging 60 and an interesting approach to laying the drag. This hunt has been established for more than forty years and covers an area that is not generally fox hunted. It demonstrates that drag hunting can be popular and well supported by people who enjoy riding to hounds.
We do not accept the view expressed by the Masters of Drag hunts and Bloodhounds Association (MBDA) that drag hunting is not an alternative sport to live quarry hunting. As the study by Manley et al shows, most people who participate in drag hunts also hunt live quarry. In our opinion, the MBDA’s statement is political and unhelpful.
We accept that it is impossible to predict how many people will convert from hunting to drag hunting in the event of a ban. The research contract has not added to our knowledge in this respect. We wish to re-state that drag hunting is but one of a number of alternative activities for those whose interests are principally equestrian.
Deadline 2000 generally agree with the methodology and conclusions
of PACEC as presented in their final research submission. We wish to restate the
comments made by Sean Rickard at the economics research seminar that most of the
data used to derive the indirect figures were provided by hunt supporters. This
leads us to suspect that the indirect employment figures are high.
V Social Issues
Deadline 2000 generally accepts the methodology and conclusions
in the final version of the Social and Cultural research submission. We would
draw attention to the fact that these results apply to areas where maximum support
for hunting would be expected. In these areas, the importance of hunting to
the lives of residents was lower than expected; the committee is asked to refer
to the IFAW/MORI poll submitted to the inquiry which appears to show a general
low level of support for hunting in rural areas.
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Deadline 2000 is confident that the points given in the position statement, at the beginning of this submission, have been generally supported by the research commissioned by the Inquiry. Our submissions have been based on science wherever possible and on reasoned argument where science is lacking. The quality of our evidence is apparent, given the considerable agreement between the research and our submissions.
There is an overwhelming case for a ban on hunting with dogs that should be enacted without delay.
Where we have quoted from evidence which was not used in the main written submissions
from the Deadline 2000 organisations, we have included references in the text.
Elsewhere, we have indicated that we are quoting from our written submissions.
These submissions contain extensive references and bibliographies.
Deadline 2000 represents The League against Cruel Sports
(LACS), The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the Royal Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
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Date uploaded to website 15 May 2000