So the MPs have voted to ban hunting with dogs. I’m actually of two minds about this, and if forced to choose a side, I would probably vote for hunting, not against. There are several reasons for this.
The first has to do with growing up in California, where we have another pest and predator: the coyote. I’ve lost many, many pets to coyotes, both in Los Angeles and in Northern California. Ranchers lose small stock to them, and the occasional lamb. Even the occasional unwatched toddler, if you want to be completely accurate. Most memorably, my sisters and I stood screaming and crying one morning before school, as my mother’s small dog was torn apart by two of them in the meadow in front of our house; it was ripped apart between them like a stuffed animal in a tug of war. Not a wonderful memory.
There, as will prove the case here, the coyotes still had to be kept under control. Shooting them is generally not an option, as it is too expensive and not the most effective way to keep the population down. They used snares, traps and poison. If you have ever seen an animal that has died in a snare, or by poison, you know what a slow, cruel death this is.
Hunts provide services for local farmers, as well – although they don’t have the effect on the local economy that they would probably have you believe. It costs several hundred pounds to have a large, dead animal disposed of, and the hunts will do it for free. They also maintain walls, gates, and so on. They provide a service.
Yes, it is a blood sport. Yes, it is cruel. But it is part of your heritage – there is nothing more “English” than a traditional hunt. I think it would be a loss if a ban on hunting was in place. It would be a shame.
There are no easy answers.