This incredible encounter happened to me this week. The fox was curled up asleep at my back door. Foxes are normally nocturnal and will run away if they spot you anywhere near. But I just sat there for ages chilling with this fox and two of my cats Jimmy and Sammy. I sensed no hostility from either side, just a relaxed inquisitiveness.
I was reminded about my rural childhood and about fox hunting that happened around me. I grew up in the Worcestershire countryside in England, and I remember the hunt coming round my house. I hated it back then. The horns, the howling, the shouting. It felt like an invasion more than a social event. I was always rooting for the fox. The BBC actually made a prime time documentary about the hunt in my area, it was so strange to see my neighbours on television advocating this practice and their vitriol to those who were against it.
I don’t know why fox hunting is referred to as a sport – sports are supposed to have even teams with an even opportunity to win. Fox hunting has a small, frightened woodland animal on one team, and on the other team, several dozen humans, horses, land rovers and trained hounds. Alexei Sayle had it right when he compared it to a rugby team playing against a small bunny rabbit.
I was always told by people trying to justify hunting that the fox was a vicious, sadistic hunter and the hunt was the most humane way to keep the population in check. But hunting for survival is not vicious or sadistic, any more than the behaviour of an equally effective predator, the domestic cat. however, nobody would be advocating keeping cat populations under control by getting dressed up and chasing them to exhaustion with a pack of dogs.
David Cameron’s government is currently trying to legalise fox hunting, and I think it would be a real step backwards if that happened. I don’t know what the solution is to the fox problem, or even how much of a problem it really is. But we can do better than chasing them and ripping them to shreds in the name of sport, surely.
Of all the recreational activities available on the planet now, why do we still need to choose ones that require other living beings to die?
If you live in the UK you can write to your MP about the Hunting Act here: http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/hunting/takeaction
PS – I got another 15 minutes of footage of this fox cleaning its fur, stretching, yawning etc before the encounter with the cats. If enough people want to see it I’ll upload that too.
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