The hunters wear coats of scarlet, like the blood of their prey. The dogs sometimes tear the fox to pieces with their teeth. As an initiation, new hunters are smeared with the blood of their first kill, often using the severed tail as a paint brush. It’s all part of the centuries old tradition of fox hunting. Now there is increasing momentum in the U.K to once again legalize the hunt. British Prime Minster Theresa May says she personally favors traditional forms of fox hunting and wants Parliament to vote on the issue.
The practice was banned in 2004, under British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and it has long been a source of debate. Supporters include sportsmen who want their tradition to continue and actual farmers who say foxes are vermin which endanger their animals and livelihood. Many rural communities argue that traditional fox hunting is an essential form of pest control. The humanitarian argument is that fox hunting is vicious, inhumane, and uncivilized. The practice is particularly unpopular among urban elites.
Here’s how it works: The hunt party unleashes the hounds and then chases the fox through the countryside on horseback in the hope of tiring it out. Eventually the hunters hope the fox will be so tired that the dogs will be able to catch it and kill it.
There is certainly tremendous tradition involved with the hunt. “The iconic ritual of smearing ceremonial blood on the cheeks of a new member of a clan or society which is depicted in many books and films has its roots in the fox hunting, whose act of ‘Blooding’ was introduced by King James I in the sixteenth century and involved the Huntsmaster rubbing the blood of the prey onto the cheeks of newly initiated member of the hunt.”
A recent poll found opposition to fox hunting has risen to historic levels, with 84 per cent of the public saying they believe the “sport” should not be made legal again.
Despite opposition from members of her own party, Prime Minister May, “has confirmed the Conservative manifesto for next month’s General Election will retain the party’s promise to grant Members of Parliament a free vote on the hunting issue.
The British government says it has received reports of increased fox attacks on lambs acknowledges the burden this places on farmers.
Earlier this year one of the organizations that opposes fox hunting and actively attempts to sabotage the hunts which still occur illegally released a video of a pack of dogs tearing apart a fox during an alleged hunt.
Members of the “West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs” say they were attempting to stop a Hunt when they captured footage of fox being chased by hounds onto a driveway. A spokesman said on Facebook: “The fox was cornered and trapped on a driveway by the hounds who started tearing into it. Sabs managed to rescue the body which they discovered was still alive. “However despite trying to revive the fox it died in the arms of a sab a short time later.”