Shropshire MP Owen Paterson calls for end to hunting ban

Shropshire MP and former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has called for the ban on hunting to be repealed.

Owen Paterson
Owen Paterson

On the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the Hunting Act, Mr Paterson, who represents North Shropshire, said the law was a badly-drawn piece of legislation which he hoped would be lifted in future.

“It’s a complete muddle, that has been driven more by class warfare than animal welfare,” he said.

“Since the Act came into force, it has been widely documented that there has been a significant increase in the shooting of foxes, which have died in great misery.”

He added: “I sat on the committees when the legislation was drawn up, and there was a lot of ignorance about.

"I made a clear commitment to repealing the ban, and I would very much hope and expect that we will do that as soon as we can.”

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Comments for: "Shropshire MP Owen Paterson calls for end to hunting ban"

Mr Majestic

I used to ride out to hounds as a child it was part of country life and my family now as foot follower of the north shropshire hunt and others which are drag hunts i am happy for it to continue as it is .

Hunts from my view in general act with in the law and i have not seen any law breaking but as they are human like the rest of us you may have the odd law breaker .

The fox population is now suitably controlled through gun,snare,gas and having lost a number of hens and ducks over the last few weeks a lamper has been called in by me , yuo want free range you have to control predators ie the fox.

As a foot follower i found as owen states it is a class issue many Antie even want drag hunts stopped simply because they make an assumption on what might happen, they have an issue with horses and the riders even the clothes they wear and the vehicles they drive ???

As a family who shoot and hubby fishes and listening to the guy from league against so called cruel sports on radio shropshire yesterday it will be a very. very brave government that tries to limit the shooting industry and the fishing industry both generates millions for the country where fox hunting did not .

Blind Boy Grunt

Mr Majestic and others are partly right and partly wrong in my humble opinion.

I live in North Shropshire, but have lived in other rural areas of England, Wales and Scotland during my life. My great grandfather was a master of hounds for an estate in Northumberland.

Fox hunting is NOT a town versus country dispute, as much as the pro hunt lobby and their chums in UKIP and the Conservative Party would like us all to believe. It is also not about protecting hens, ducks and lambs - far more of these creatures die from disease than fox kills.

The anti-hunt cause is primarily an animal welfare. What gives us as human beings the right to terrorise smaller animals by chasing them to exhaustion before letting trained hounds maul them to death... as a sport?

Most right-minded people find this whole idea abhorrent. Would Mr Majestic and his friends consider doing this with Tiddles the Cat from down the road or Rover the Dog from the local farm... of course not, or at least I hope not!

But Mr Majestic is correct in that the whole debate is underpinned by class and wealth. While on my way to Chester recently I was stopped by guy in a ratting cap riding an ATV before the Edgerton Arms roundabout. He stopped us by shoving up his right hand while shouting STOP! We then proceeded to wait in a line of traffic for more than 10 minutes while first a pack of fox hounds, then the hunters dolled up in their hacking jackets and cravats trotted after, a few waving a cursory hand in our direction. They in turn were followed by the so-called hunt followers. No thank you or excuse me just their landed gentry God given right to stop the world for their pleasure. Yes this is about class... it is about a very rich country class steeped in boarding schools, sound thrashings, gin and tonics and Tory teas upholding their view of society against the rest of us... working class, middle class, unemployed and asylum seekers (sorry I threw the last one in as an attempt at irony!)

A C Allen

The fox has no natural predator. It used to be controlled by wolves until they were hunted to extinction. The hound is their descendant so hunting with hounds is a natural activity.


Lol, so a bunch of people sitting on horses in fancy red jackets, with all their mates is a natural activity is it?!


I live in the middle of North Shropshire and we are not plagued by foxes. This is in part a class warfare issue which is rather outmoded - we should have moved on. It is a shame that Mr. Paterson continues to only want to represent large farmers and landowners. Years ago a wise politico said to me in response to my observation that there were lots of blue posters along a country road..."fields don't vote".

The large farming and land interests in North Shropshire do not provide much employment or economic regeneration so are therefore largely irrelevant to the vast majority of the population.

Mr Majestic

You have a point michael however the large land owners and farmers in north shropshire amount to very few members of the population in that area and as you said fields do not vote, but clearly owen appeals to those in north shropshire who can be bothered to get up and vote as he won with a reasonable majority and will win next year .


Owen Paterson will almost certainly win next year for the reasons you say and that there is actually very little political activity in North Shropshire and political parties nationally are very weak. That does mean he is the best representative for this area almost by default. I just wish he would try to appeal to a wider cross section of the electorate as because nationally whichever party represents the middle ground tends to win general elections.


Michael, the thing is the middle ground is not static, that which was the middle at the last election might not be so next year.

By the utterances coming from both major parties it is looking as if they think the center is moving.

By following the advice of people who think as you suggest, the Tories have been on the wrong track for years and it is showing in their loss of membership and votes.

The very last thing Paterson should do is to try to appeal to people would would not vote for him if he was the only candidate.

That was Cameron`s mistake at the last election and he is having to be dragged away from making the same mistake again, but I fear for him it is already far to late. The only hope he has got is that Milliband seems to be even more unpopular than him.

A C Allen

I wouldn't say there is very little political activity in North Shropshire. UKIP is growing in numbers and represents the middle ground. UKIP at least listens to the ordinary voter and is consistent in its message.


The fox population containment is a joke,

60 % of foxes get the mange which controls their numbers.

There are more urban foxes than rural and although the foxes main diet is earthworms usefully they do kill rats.

Riding around the streets of surburbia in fancy dress is not recommended but then neither is it welcome in the countryside any more, times have changed.

I too have kept hens and lost some but I don't see the point of randomly killing foxes which never seems to make any difference, just because it suits me.

A C Allen

If you think a fox with mange isn't a welfare problem, then I'm surprised, because they suffer. It isn't a case of "randomly killing foxes"; hounds cull the sick, the weak, the diseased and those who aren't bright enough to escape. It improves the gene pool and makes the population stronger and healthier. There is no welfare state for wild animals, so those who can no longer hunt for their food starve to death.


The sick, the weak and the diseased will die without any help from hounds.

Yes, a death from sickness might not be as quick as being ripped apart by dogs but that's just nature isn't it?


Just for once I actually agree with Ms Majestic. I've lived in the countryside all my life and the vast majority of friends and neighbours, including farmers and those employed in the countryside, are largely indifferent to the hunting ban, it's way down their list of priorities. The only people who seem to get excited about are hunt supporters.

The ban also seems to have had no effect on the number of foxes there are about, they're are just something you put up with when you live in the country like tractors, muddy lanes, rural smells and noisy cockerels.

Just one point though Ms M, it is actually called the League Against Cruel Sports, just because you don't agree with an official body there is no cause to ridicule it. Not only does LACS campaign against hunting it also actively campaigns against bull fighting, dog fighting and trophy hunting as well as monitoring treatment of animals in horse and greyhound racing which I am sure that even you will agree is admirable.

King Billy

Owen Paterson is so ridiculous he could be the inspiration for Private Eye's Sir Bufton Tufton, or perhaps it is the other way round? Is he really suggesting that a good reason for reversing the Hunting Act is the 'significant increase in the shooting of foxes, which have died in great misery'? The humane alternative presumably being torn to shreds by hounds after being chased for miles across the countryside? Also interesting that Paterson believes that shooting foxes causes them to die in great misery, whereas only last year, in a written statement to Parliament, he stated that shooting badgers was 'safe, humane, and effective'. I can't imagine why shooting badgers is humane but shooting foxes isn't. I don't find it hard to believe that Paterson is unscrupulous about ignoring facts in pursuit of a favourite cause - he is a politician after all, and a Tory at that - but to so obviously contradict yourself and make a case for hunting with dogs as a humane alternative to shooting really takes a special kind of idiocy.

I'm not anti country sports and not averse to a spot of fishing but I don't think Paterson is doing any favours to the shooting and fishing fraterity by trying to revive an indefensibly barbaric bloodsport that will in turn only revive the scrutiny and clamour from animal rights activists who seek to outlaw fishing and shooting along with foxhunting. The traditional hunt has gone the way of badger-baiting and hare-coursing for good reason.


I would have thought that Patterson would have more relevant priorities to consider but then I remembered, he got the sack as a cabinet minister. He's just a common or garden MP with an election coming up so he'll say anything to secure votes.




Give it a rest Paterson you poor excuse for an ex cabinet minister.


Why can't we have hunt the Badger? Not one for fox hunting, but saying that, in all the years we've had foxes on the place (a few lurk around and have the nerve to stop and stare when they see me glaring at them) not once have they dug up the place. I've just had new fencing installed and right next to it, Badgers have either moved (from the neighbouring farm) or extended their sett and you'd think a bulldozer had done the damage. Not only that, but i have heavily pregnant ewes in the field next to this one. Why is it ok for a Badger to cause damage, (the holes are nearly 3 foot in depth). If one of my ewes were to go down this hole the injury that she would suffer doesn't bare thinking about. Not only that, but the field that they are currently on, the gardeners friend (mole) has started to appear and badgers are also starting to dig in that field. Personally, i would like to cull all Badgers (lost a cow to TB) but other than that, farmers should be allowed, without penalty to protect their property and livestock. Current rules state that my land can be destroyed, my animals injured, but the Badger mustn't be harmed. Yet Patterson wants fox hunting brought back. If a fox attacks my sheep i am well within my right to shoot that fox and nobody will complain. Yet the Badger?? And people wonder why landowners are sick to death of them!

Dystopia Beckons

Chocolatefudge: Sorry to hear of your issues with badgers, but if you contact Jim Ashley, Chairman of Shropshire Badger Group, he can advise you on effective measures you can legally take to solve your problems.

Lets Be Rational

As I remember, both Owen and his wife used to hunt, so a slight personal interest maybe.

As for the "foxes, which have died in great misery" after being shot, I am sure that they would much prefer to be chased over miles then torn to shreds by their biological cousins.

Michael and others you right Owen Paterson will almost certainly win next year.

Not because he is in anyway good at his job or has any concern whatsoever for the majority of people in North Shropshire. He will be returned simple because he is a conservative standing in North Shropshire. The statistically safest tory seat in the country and one which the Conservative's have held since 1835, 180 years by the time of the election.

Lets face it the Tories could put a chimpanzee up in North Shropshire with its blue rosette and it would win. (waits for the punch line comeback)


I'm tempted but iron willed!!


Sorry LBR but I do not think that makes sense, if the majority of the people in North Shropshire would vote for Paterson, he must be interested in their concerns otherwise they would not vote for him.

Would it not be more the case that your views would be in a minority in North Shropshire?

It is funny the way people vote, often what seems to be a major issue as far as the media are concerned does not carry through to the ballot box. Look at Tony Blair and the anti-war movement, what was a million plus people took the trouble to campaign on the streets of London, yet Blair got in comfortably at the following election.

Lets Be Rational

If one was to accept your argument Eurealist you would have to assume that the Conservative party had actually put their best candidate in North Shropshire who was totally in tune with the electorate since 1835.

I am sure you are well aware that many people do not vote for the candidate they vote for the party and I am not saying that the Conservative Party are not very popular in North Shropshire, that does not mean though they are voting for OP, it just means they are voting Conservative. Hence my comment a chimpanzee with a blue rosette would be elected.

This in no way puts my views in the minority, just states a fact.

I think like any party the Tories would put up the candidate most likely to win the seat, one assumes therefore that is going to be the best candidate from their point of view.

What I am arguing against is the lazy assumptions that Paterson is not good because he does not appeal to certain pressure groups theories of how things should be.

Probably because of UKIP he is stepping out of the box that has enclosed political debate in this country for far too long.

James B

'if the majority of the people in North Shropshire would vote for Paterson, he must be interested in their concerns otherwise they would not vote for him...'

Well, a logical extension of this would be to suggest that Tony Blair was selected as Labour candidate for Sedgefield because Labour believed he best represented the concerns of the people of Sedgefield. Obviously, such a suggestion would be ridiculous ; Blair was there because the party leader needs a safe seat. Paterson was a cabinet minister (heaven forbid) and cabinet ministers likewise need safe seats.

The best constituency MPs (I'd have thought) would be those most worried by their majorities in swing seats. I don't know about now, but my relatives in the Wrekin area used to say both Hawksley (Con) and Grocott (Lab) were good examples of hard-working MPs who represented local concerns.

James B

Hmm, best point out the hole in my own argument before someone does it for me. Obviously, Blair's initial selection for Sedgefield wouldn't have been anything to do with the leadership. It was presumably because Labour thought he'd be a good MP.

But he didn't stick around there winning big majorities because he was good at representing local concerns.

Similarly, I guess, with Paterson. And I'd maintain that it's the swing-seat MPs who have to work the hardest. North Shropshire used to have John Biffen as MP. Nothing particularly against him, but for all the presence he had in the constituency, the Tories really could have fielded a shopkeeper's dummy in a blue rosette and you wouldn't have known the difference.


I agree that swing seat MPs have to work hardest, I also agree with you unstated implication that MPs should represent the views of their constituents. If there were fewer seats like Paterson`s we might find we were better served. The whole system seems to be falling apart and in need of radical change.

James B

Yes, because (as Tony Benn used to say) it's vital that every MP knows we can kick him/her out when we deem that he/she has stopped representing our interests.

As it happens, I suspect Paterson's views ARE in tune with a large section of his constituency, but I struggle to believe that's why he's currently sounding off on such a hotch-potch of issues (that's more about positioning himself within the party) or why he's got such a huge majority in North Shropshire.


James I think you have nailed it Paterson is positioning himself within the party.

A C Allen

So you think a lingering death from gunshot wounds is preferable to a quick death by the leading hound?

Lets Be Rational

What does the lead hound have an .357 or some sort of bionic jaw, as the lead hound quickly dispatches the fox please don't insult my intelligence with such a comment.

Lets Be Rational

PS. if the lead hound is so good it can take down and dispatch the fox quickly on its own, why does it need a pack behind him to tear it apart, if not for the enjoyment of the people following.


The onus is on the hunter to do the job properly and to not take the shot if he's not sure of a clean kill, surely?

The recent badger cull was conducted by people with guns, not a bunch of inbreds on horses. If killing an animal with a gunshot is so much worse than setting a bunch of dogs on it (as if), then why isn't that the method used for all hunting?

This bull about it being "kind to the fox" is completely ridiculous. You want to be kind to foxes? Then don't hunt them, full stop. I can just see you sitting atop your horse as your dogs tear the poor creature to shreds; "This hurts me more than it hurts you".

If your principle concern is the fox's welfare, why the need for all the pomp and pageantry? Why do you need to dress up in silly clothes (surely a high-viz vest would be much safer?)? Why is it necessary for loads of people to follow pointlessly? Why do you need to rub blood on the faces of kids?

You want to hunt foxes because you enjoy killing things, that's the truth of it. Like a little kid pulling the legs off insects... Don't try and dress it up as "necessary".


Because the clothing is warm, waterproof & windproof, easily brushed clean when dry, protects from thorns, cost effective (if you take care of it it will last for years).

At least we have got to the bottom of your problem you are an inverse snob. Your belief is not based on any desire to improve welfare or stop suffering, you just want to stop anyone who is different to you following their way of life.


Mr Paterson states that there was "a lot of ignorance about" when the legislation was drawn up. He also says that since the act was drawn up "there has been a significant increase in shooting of foxes, which have died in great misery" Is he seriously suggesting that killing foxes with a pack of hounds is more humane than shooting them? Particularly as he went out of his way in the House of Commons to disparage the reports from the independent review body that a significant number of the badgers shot in the cull had not been humanely killed. He seems to be putting his foot in his mouth again.

A C Allen

Well, given that it was stated during the debate that dogs should be taught to tell the difference between a hare and a rabbit (hunting a hare is illegal under the Act, but hunting a rabbit is fine - how logical is that?), I'd say that there was a measure of ignorance. Also, since the result of the hunt is a quick kill or escape completely unharmed, perhaps that might be considered better for the fox than wounding by shooting. What annoys me is that 700 hours of Parliamentary time were wasted on the Hunting Bill, after which the Act they came up with is flawed, hard to interpret and pretty much unworkable. That's no surprise considering it wasn't based on animal welfare concerns, but rather "payback for the miners". It's really in nobody's interest (except the Labour backbenchers' to whom Tony Blair threw it as some red meat) and even Blair admitted that he regretted doing it. Compare the Hunting Bill debate with the paltry amount of time spent debating going to war. Skewed priorities or what?


" What annoys me is that 700 hours of Parliamentary time were wasted on the Hunting Bill"

No, what annoys you is that you believe you should have the right to engage in a unnecessary but cruel activity, despite that activity being an anathema to a great many people.


"The sick, the weak and the diseased will die without any help from hounds.

Yes, a death from sickness might not be as quick as being ripped apart by dogs but that's just nature isn't it?"

The person that seems to have a warped sense of animal welfare on this thread is you. From your own post you condemn yourself as being happy to witness genuine cruelty.

Dystopia Beckons

Are Mrs Majestic and other fox persecutors on here familiar with the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who was condemned to eternally roll a heavy stone up a hill, only for it to roll back to the bottom every time? Don't the fox-haters realize that any perceived benefit of killing foxes is only very temporary, since foxes from outside the area will move into the vacant territory and the cycle will only begin again?

There is even evidence that when fox numbers fall below a certain threshold, the vixens will simply produce larger litters to compensate.

Nature will prevail, and fox numbers will self-regulate to suit the available food supply. In any case, foxes help to keep the rabbit and rat populations in check, which one would have thought would please farmers and smallholders.

Owen Paterson's real agenda is to protect his Tory backers on the shooting estates. Foxes do take game birds, such as the pheasants that are imported and reared in huge numbers for profit just to be blasted out of the sky with guns as so-called "sport".

Always follow the money...

A C Allen

The Act allows foxes to be dug out to protect game birds, so I don't see why you make this claim about protecting the shooting fraternity. It does not, however, allow farmers to dig out foxes to protect their lambs. It just isn't very good legislation; it's full of anomalies.

Jay Alday

He's out of touh with British people on this, no one I knew supports this cruel sport anymore it's like bull fighting an old sport which we have moved on from thank god.

A C Allen

It's nothing like bull fighting (which still continues in Spain and which receives grants funded by the money we send to the EU). I wasn't aware that bull fighting was ever part of English culture. When did that happen?


Hmm well maybe not so out of touch. I live in North Shropshire... I've never seen a fox round here, not even when we kept chickens. But I have seen the North Shropshire Hunt nearby, and they looked like they were from all walks of life, not just milords and miladies in red coats.

Personally I see no reason to overturn the Hunting Act, and nor do I care much if Parliament does overturn it, but there are more important things to concern ourselves with than some foxes. Ultimately, do we legislate for foxes or for people?


Why not repeal all bloodsports including dog fighting and badger baiting - the latter i am sure would be popular in his constituency.


Paterson it seems , like all those other Mp's supporting any repeal of foxhunting with hounds, is out of touch both with the views of the majority of the UK people. Also as has already been made clear by his leader Cameron , The present Government is unable to deliver in this parliament . And perhaps Rochester on Thursday will further dent any future chances of clinching a Free vote in the elected house. It is a pity however that those Mp's currently grandstanding on a repeal of the Act should choose this subject as any priority to hang their hat on for politics and the next election. Equally it would be nice if those already hunting could all perhaps comply with the terms of the act instead of the considerable illegal and inhumane killing of wildlife taking place at this time. If anything the penalties for such illegal acts should attract much higher penalties, on prosecution.

It now seems that the work of Paterson in supporting Badger killing as well as his remarks without evidence on the percentage of Badgers infected with Bovine Tb . will unravel following the recent statements by his old partner DEFRA . Who now indicate that probably only 6% is attributable to Badgers. But that immense evidence of Cattle to Cattle BTB transmission exists. The words as delivered this week by Professor Ian Boyd DEFRA Chief Scientist to an NFU Conference. What time and Money wasted by politicians as they have dismissed Science and then lobby for a repeal of the Hunting Act.



Stick to foxes and as you lost the debate in farmers weekly, please repeat all of what was said about badgers and their role in tb not just the little bits to try and further your case . Thanks .


" It [hunting] improves the gene pool and makes the population stronger and healthier."

Oh right, it's for their own good, so we get more, fitter, healthier foxes! I didn't realise.

I thought it was about controlling the fox population (allegedly), although when cornered, many supporters of fox-hunting try to wriggle out by claiming it's all about healthy exercise and they hardly kill any foxes.

The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable, indeed.


That's right. Apparently, they hardly kill any foxes anyway.

So what's the bl**dy point then? The lack of honesty is the thing that disgusts me the most... at least if they said, "it serves no real purpose other than to enable me to get my kicks", I'd have a lot more respect for them.


Owen Paterson rears his nonsense head again, what he doesn't tell you is that the people of Shropshire dislike him for his ignorance, anyone that has had a meeting with the guy will tell you how he speaks at you and doesn't listen to anything you have to say.

I've live in the hills of Shropshire for 29 years now and yes it is a class problem but not as they would like to make out. In my early years to the county I have encounter the hunt on several occasions, once on my return to home they were drinking outside a pub, horses all over the road blocking me access, I wound the window down and asked if they could move to let me past, this sizeable red face idiot told me to go around, I ask go around where? He briefly informed me through the spit and splutter of his pint, this was a 7 mile diversion he wanted me to take. I then explain that I lived less than a mile passed where they were and that I would give them a couple of minutes then call the police to remove the obstruction, eventually they moved whilst shouting rude insulting comments at me, a mum with her young daughter in the back of the car.

I have also witnessed a fox and a hare being torn apart by dogs screaming in pain and blood covering the dogs, an image I will never forget and neither will my daughter and during this time these idiots on horses cheered and dribbled with glee.

Farmers in our area talk of the hunt as being bullies and threaten farms if they go against them, we made it quite clear that we didn't want the hunt in our area and I'm glad to say we don't get their menace anymore.

Owen Paterson is no better than any of the thugs that go out at night to kill creatures to feed their insatiable sensational need for dominance.


Hunting does NOT help to preserve the rural way of life for the tiny minority who actually partake in the so called sport of hunting with hounds.

But hunting comes at a great cost to both farmers and the rural dwellers who see the grass verges churned up by the array of 4 x 4 vehicles as they decent at a vantage point to watch the kill. Footpaths and bridle ways are also pinched during the damp winter with the herd of mounted hoses treading along footpaths that when frozen will resemble something like the Giants Causeway! Each year pets are mistakenly killed by hounds on riot to great distress to the owners and peoples gardens are invaded and damaged by hunts.

But farmers and dog owners are probably the biggest losers as hounds are still classed as sporting dogs and so not subject to the usual rules and regulations that other dog owners have to follow. I have yet to see a huntsman picking up hound pooh, but I live in hope. Or the vet popping around to the hunt kennels to do the annual inoculations and heath check for 101 hunting hounds. Hounds do not need to wear collars or be chipped and they are kept in kennels rather like battery hens and only allowed out on hunt days and for exercise. I usually hear that around this time, the local vets putting up signs to warn dog owners that a new outbreak of Kennel Cough has been detected, and to ensure your pet is vaccinated. This leads on to me thinking where does this outbreak originate from? Could it be the start of Autumn Hunting, formally called Cub Hunting where new hounds are trained on fox cubs; as the hound shows are all but over and fresh from their travels the hounds are out and about on local farmland once again!

But for the farmer is can be much worse with an array of illnesses that can effect his livestock, ranging from Neospora canimum, a parasite, in which the definitive host is usually canine; e.g. a dog and they pass oocysts; this is a hardy, thick-walled spore able to survive for lengthy periods outside their host and is contained in the dogs faeces. If cattle or sheep ingest part of the dog’s faeces then that animal becomes an intermediate host. Then if the intermediate host, for example the cow dies and bits of it are eaten by the definitive host (e.g. dog), the cycle for this disease is complete.

Therefore surely it would make sense to ensure that casualty sheep and cattle (including still born calfs) are not fed to hounds! These casualties are usually termed as “Fallen Stock” by the hunt and often used to promote one of two reasons for fox hunting to exist. The other being “Pest Control”, but with hunts using artificial earths that seems a red herring of a reason.

Even more interestingly and strangely, apparently foxes can be intermediate hosts, but not definitive hosts, and therefore if a fox carrying the disease is killed and eaten by hounds, the hounds could be infected, and they in turn could infect cattle and sheep as they pooh on farmland!

Perhaps the most critical reason for banning hounds from killing foxes!

Currently the few badgers carrying bovine TB are being blamed for spreading bovine TB in there urine - a few millilitres in the grass which quickly dries up, but compare this to a bovine TB positive cow excreting 60lts a day of infected slurry per day, which dries out and shields the mycobacterium from UV and keeps it warm for days. This is then spread around by the hooves of cattle and passed from field to field as they are moved around. Now local hunts do exactly the same except they go from farm to farm infecting new herds as they go. It’s quite stunning how ignorant so called 'hunting' people are about their own farming practices and 'leisure' pursuits.

So in summary hunting with hounds provides too great a risk to both the farming and countryside leisure industries as a vector for the transmission of so many diseases in the countryside.

But alas Owen Paterson does not like science so will support hunting and all its risks to the public and farmers.


So many comments based on lack of understanding not sure which ones to respond to, lets start with

"The anti-hunt cause is primarily an animal welfare."

No its not. The anti hunt cause is about animal rights not welfare. The distinction being that animal rights is around assigning human characteristics to animals whereas animal welfare is around habitat, food and health. Those who hunt are brought up to respect the countryside and to believe in conservation (this is not exclusive so people who don't hunt may also believe in this). Conservation is needed in all areas of the world where man and wild animals live adjacent to each other as mans incursion affects the balance. Humans therefore will control numbers in order to ensure that the balance is maintained to both the animlas and the humans level of sustainability.

Once this concept is accepted (and I appreciate that their are people who don't agree with this but in terms of animal welfare if not rights then it is necessary) then it is just the method of control that needs to be decided. When the white paper on Hunting was put together information and evidence was gathered from all different groups, the output from this was that in terms of fox control the least cruel methods were shooting outright with a high powered rifle or continuing to hunt with hounds but under regulation, other methods such as shotgun, posion, snare were all considered to be more cruel. Hunting with hounds actually provides the best method of conservation as it means that the animals more likely to be caught and killed are those that are already diseased, unhealthy or otherwise impaired.

The issue then moves onto peoples perceptions that people who hunt are blood thirsty and toffs. Neither of which is true. It is rare for the field to be near enough to hounds when the fox is caught to actually see the kill. The pleasure derived is either from riding across country at a fast pace with friends or watching the hounds work and do what they have been bred to do, similar concept to watching lions in the wild stalk and kill their prey and also stalk and miss. You admire the skill but there is no actual pleasure in the kill. The idea that people are toffs is so outdated, there are well off folks who hunt but there are also plenty of people from all walks of life including nurses, policemen, mechanics, window cleaners.

Yes the road may occasionally be blocked but certainly the hunt I follow makes every effort to keep it clear and thank anyone who is kind enough to wait, as well as trying to ensure that blockages are cleared for anyone trying to get through that isn't following.

The hunt lives on the goodwill of the farming community and does its best to help with the fallen stock service, fence repairs, pest control at all times of year. There will be instances where some individuals within a hunt may not be as polite as they should be but these are generally isolated instances that you get in all walks of life not just within a hunt.

To be honest since the ban most hunts have found that support in the countryside has increased and field numbers have gone up, mainly because there is a view that urban MPs with a class prejudice should stick to what they know about and not implement laws that are unworkable. As an oft seen car sticker says "Keep your BS in Westminster and we'll keep ours in the country"


Great propaganda.


"but there are also plenty of people from all walks of life including nurses, policemen, mechanics, window cleaners."

Don't make me laugh. I don't believe for a minute that anything other than the tiniest minority of people on a hunt belong to the occupations you list. Pretending that the fact you have a window cleaner on your hunt is evidence that it's an every-man sport is ridiculous. All it means is that that particular window-cleaner also happens to get his kicks out of hurting animals.


What you believe and what the reality is are indeed very far apart. There are people from many walks of life, some are very well off but there are just as many that struggle to get by and where this is their only hobby. Surprisingly our conversations don't normally start with "how much do you earn" they tend to normal everyday conversations about family, friends, work and life in general. This means until you get to know people a bit better then everyone is the same, we obviously don't have the same chip that you do, at least it makes our shoulders lighter !


My own observations of the North Shropshire Hunt (with which I have absolutely no association) support this entirely. Yes there are people in red coats on horses but there are a great deal of ordinary people too. I was greatly surprised by the mix I saw.


A C Allen

I do totally agree with you that foxes with mange do suffer however one of the symptoms of mange in foxes is that they become desensitized and lose their fear of mankind and other dangers, they will quite literally stand still without fear while approached, so not much fun for the hunts who like the chase. Only a healthy fox will run and try to escape as they fear for their life. I'm afraid it is a case of "randomly killing foxes" so hounds don't just kill the sick and diseased the same as they don't just kill the older foxes because if that were to be the case explain "Cubbing". Hunts are still hunting, encouraging foxes in areas by feeding them to maintain numbers to hunt, capturing and releasing live foxes at the beginning of the hunt so that they have their... entertainment!


I think this comment says it all.... especially how warped their minds are!

"The Fox is probably my favourite animal... I saw a dead Fox today - roadkill - and I thought what a terrible way to die. I think for the Fox to be hunted and caught by hounds is going out in style. Fifty people have made a performance out of it and appreciated it" - Otis Ferry


Two things:

Owen Paterson thinks killing animals for fun is acceptable. A somewhat abhorrent view to most rational people. Unfortunately, as observed, one could paint a pig blue in North Shropshire and it would be voted in as the Tory MP. There is a lack of effort by all political parties around here anyway. It has now been at least 12 years since any politician has knocked on my door to make their case for my vote.

As published by Private Eye magazine a while ago, the debate on fox hunting ate up 700 hours of parliamentary time. However, the decision to mount the illegal invasion of Iraq was reached after only 6 hours which suggests some rather screwed up priorities in this country, at least politically.


Funny. OP says what he thinks. Compare with Daniel K, who jumps on every passing bandwagon.

Which do you prefer????


As South Park puts it, a choice between a giant douche and a t*rd sandwich.


I don't like everything that OP says but I do like that he is not afraid to speak his mind and also that he does not set out to court popularity just for the sake of it.

Blind Boy Grunt

The idea that UKIP has moved in and taken the middle ground in UK politics is laughable if it wasn't so frightening. And there are so many fields and trees backing UKIP in North Shropshire it really is quite alarming.

It is all a cunning plan because:

1. UKIP is an irrelevance in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. Therefore it is just an English anti-immigration party.

2. UKIP policies are so right wing they are in many cases Fascist - something this country fought hard to defeat just 70 years ago.

3. UKIP claims to represent ordinary people and have jettisoned the old Etonian, Westminster clique... really! By filling their ranks with former Tory MPs!

4. UKIP uses the same populist 'common sense' lowest common denominator ideals as Le Penn in France, NOP in Poland and before them the BNP in the UK... oh yes and Hitler in 1933 Germany!

Jay Alday

His is out of touch with British people on this. This cruel sport of torturing a awild animal is disgusting and need to be stopped it's a shame to our country as bull fighting shames the Spanish.


It's this bleating 'you just want to interfere with our way of life ' that's so chilling.

The royal 'our' is the concept that some people are entitled in some way compared to others.

The reality is land ownership has changed, population densities have changed and the practicality of such a sport has diminished unless perhaps you are a landowner in Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Samantha Cameron's family own 22,000 acres in Scotland for example.

There are those who used to hunt or watch the hunt who's views have radically changed seeing it now for what it really is.

Remember Hitler's SS used to hunt Jewish people like animals for sport in WW11 or pick them off with guns as they passed by on the trains.

Hunting foxes is just an unnecessary game with the excitement of a chase but the immoral goal of cruelty.