People Are Outraged As Hundreds Of Hunts Go Ahead In Boxing Day Tradition
The word 'tradition' is always at the heart of the festive period as families across the world partake in treasured annual customs. Some Christmas conventions may be relatively recent or solely observed by particular families, but plenty have been around for hundreds of years.
However, there are few formalities which attract more controversy than the tradition of a Boxing Day hunt in the UK.
According to the Daily Mail, there were more than 250 events that took place around Britain yesterday, with a generally common theme of protestors and a strong police presence. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage was pictured laughing as he walked to the meeting point at Chiddingstone Castle, Kent.
Hunting has been practised in the UK for centuries, with the earliest example of fox hunting dating back to 1534 as a part of pest control.
Drag hunting has also been around for about 200 years and sees hounds follow an artificial scent like aniseed. However, when the Hunting Act was introduced in 2004 (effectively banning the hunting of wild animals like foxes and deer), many hunters turned to trail hunting.
Chris Pitt, Deputy Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, told LADbible there's one key issue with trail hunting: "The hounds are still trained to follow an animal-based scent [and] what happens is that the hounds often pick up the scent of a real animal, chase it and kill it, then the hunt claims that it was an 'accident'."
So it should come as no surprise that there were plenty of people out in force to protest against those who participated in the hunts yesterday. Many held signs and posters as the hunters rode their horses through the streets, dressed in their traditional clothing.
"There's nothing wrong with a good tradition, but there's nothing good about the chasing and killing of animals for sport," Mr Pitt told us.
"Traditions can only continue if there's a modern appetite for them.
"We've thrown bear baiting, cock fighting and a whole range of traditions which involved the abuse of humans or animals into the dustbin of history. We thought the ban on hunting was the end for that particular tradition, but the hunts are resolutely refusing to abide by the law."
While there was a strong presence of protestors around the UK, there were plenty more on social media who took to their keyboards to express their anger at the continued tradition.
This is the reality to fox hunting. It has no place in modern Britain. Its barbaric and caused huge suffering. I have seen it first hand and i will fight against it until my last breath.
- kevin :flag_black: (@llywelyn_cymru) December 26, 2017
These should be completely outlawed. It is the 21st Century not the 19th. If you want to exercise your dogs and horses then do it but there is absolutely no need to slaughter a fox for sport.
- Andrew Walker (@Andrewjwal26) December 26, 2017
Suffolk Police is looking into reports that a fox was killed illegally during the Great Thurlow hunt.
Inspector Jo Garrard of Suffolk Police said: "We take these reports seriously and are conducting an investigation into the circumstances around this incident."
Hunters involved in that event have admitted to one of their hounds mauling the animal to death, however, are boldly claiming it was the protestors who caused it.
Credit: North Cambs Hunt Sabs/Facebook
According to the Daily Mirror, members of the North Cambridgeshire Hunt Saboteurs 'scared' the fox, which changed direction and met a grisly end. A spokesperson for the hunt told the newspaper: "An incident occurred on Boxing Day which was caused almost entirely by the actions of animal rights protesters while we were trail-hunting within the law."
Polling from the League Against Cruel Sports shows roughly 85 percent of people want fox hunting to remain illegal.
There is speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May is considering abandoning her manifesto pledge to offer a free vote on bringing back the practice. The government is now under pressure to confirm whether the vote will take place - but is expected to face a big backlash from rural communities, according to i News.
We must keep up the pressure on the Tories so they know fox hunting is not welcome back in Britain.
Join the 130,000 people who have already signed our petition:https://t.co/WhvYh7sHvk
- Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) December 26, 2017
But as that speculation continues to gather pace, politicians and animal welfare activists are calling for laws to be tightened for trail hunting to stop anything from dying.
The League's Christ Pitt tells us: "A 'recklessness' clause would stop the excuse of 'accidental' kills, as currently the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove it wasn't an accident, which is extremely difficult, but this way, the hunts would have to prove that it was.
"We also need increased sentences for illegal hunting, as currently it's barely a slap on the wrist.
"The Government is pushing through an increase in sentences for animal cruelty to a maximum five years in prison, but this potentially won't apply to hunting. But what's the difference between dog fighting, setting one dog on another, and fox hunting, setting a pack of dogs on one fox?
"The Hunting Act is a good piece of legislation which we estimate has helped 100,000 animals.
"But the hunts have found ways to get around it - we believe that if the law had been made stronger, then the figure would have been nearer 2.4 million animals helped."
Featured Image Credit: PA