On screen, nearly 40 years on from its first publication ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ by Roald Dahl, Mr Fox, the star of the film released earlier last month, is enjoying great success. Off screen, opinions are still divided as this month launches the official opening of hunting season in the UK.
The press release for HSA (Hunt Saboteurs Association) states “1st November is traditionally the start of the hunting season proper, although hunts have been out terrorising foxes, hare and deer for several months now, engaging in “cubbing” – or “autumn hunting” as the hunts like to refer to the early morning or late afternoon hunting used to train new hounds”.
“It’s business as usual in the countryside. The hunts continue to illegally pursue and kill wildlife and act violently toward those who try and stop them.” said Lee Moon, spokesperson for HSA.
In 2004, the Hunting Act became law, making fox hunting with hounds illegal. Five years later, both the supporters of the Act and those against it have found that it has not been upheld. Whilst supporters were relieved that wildlife now had legal protection, those against feared that their livelihoods would be affected with many hounds having to be put down, people out of jobs and the hunt industry collapsing.
” I will not stand by and see the destruction of jobs, of communities, of my friends and my family and your friends and your family.” said Simon Hart, chief executive of the CA (Countryside Alliance) whilst addressing a gathering in November 2003, at Newbury Show ground.
Over 40,000 people signed the Hunting Declaration, pledging to break the Hunting Act, this equates to less than half of the CA’s membership numbers.
Almost 6 years on from the address in Berkshire, the CA’s survey results from 300 hunts would suggest that the hunt community has been positively effected since the Hunting Act came into force. 76% have the same number of employees, 10% have increased their staff, over 70% have the same number of hounds and a further 10% of hunts have increased their hound numbers. 93% reported the same number or more subscribers than before the Law changed and almost 90% have had an increase in support from their communities since the Act. “This healthy picture shows how well hunts have risen to the short term challenges presented by the Hunting Act while the campaign for repeal has progressed”. said Simon Hunt.
The survey does not show why the hunts numbers of employees and hounds have risen or what activities are attributed to the increase.
Operating a strict policy against animal testing, driven by innovation and its ethics, beauty products company Lush Cosmetics raised £10,000 in the first week alone, of the limited edition Fabulous Mrs Fox Bubble Bar which launched on 12th October, in support of HSA with 100% of the sales (less tax) going directly to the charity.
Hilary Jones, Lush Director of Ethics, adds “For those that spent years campaigning for a ban on hunting, there was a huge sense of relief and joy when the law was finally passed. But that has since changed to a terrible feeling of betrayal when it was seen that the law was not being enforced. The public wanted hunting to stop – we believe they still do and will share this sense of betrayal.”
Both the CA and HSA agree on one aspect, that the police have not been actively enforcing the Law. It may be “wasting police time” or “the police continuing to refuse to properly enforce the ban”, or perhaps the large numbers of supporters for both sides out weighs the number of police officers available to effectively investigate and make arrests. If highly vetted specialist Wildlife Crime Unit volunteers were given the powers to act on behalf of the Law, statistics and arrests for criminal activity may afford both sides an equal opportunity to see success.
To buy Lush’s limited edition Fabulous Mrs Fox Bubble Bar which is available until Boxing Day click here.