HomeWelfare005. Red Fox Welfare Equation - Leaflet - Nov 2006

005. Red Fox Welfare Equation - Leaflet - Nov 2006

Comparing suffering between hunting and shooting methods - The extent of the poor welfare can be multiplied by duration of poor welfare as an estimate of the severity of the problem - Broom and Johnson 1993 Cambridge Stress and Animal Welfare London: Chapman & Hall

A - HUNTING - 100 foxes located by scent and followed up by scent during what is termed as the search phase of the hunt, before the fox comes in sight of the foxhounds. Once in sight of the leading hound or hounds during this short pursuit phase (maximum 2 minutes) the fox is most often quickly dispatched by the leading hound, giving the best prospect of an instantaneous death. Even at this stage of the hunt a healthy fox has the ability to outmanoeuvre the foxhounds and escape. Welfare is compromised only during the final stages of the hunt (Burns Inquiry Qualifications). Duration on a worst assessment of an average of 2 minutes before dispatch - More stress is experienced by a fox when hunting for food than when being chasedKreeger - Arguably, the precise cause of death is irrelevant. What is more critical is how quickly insensibility and death result and how much more suffering, physical and mental, the fox experiences. Here again, there is lack of firm scientific evidence to help us. There seems little doubt, however, that in the vast majority of cases the time to insensibility and death is no more than a few seconds, bearing in mind the great disparity between the size and weight of the fox and houndsPara 6.48 - Conclusion of the Burns Inquiry.

Summary - 100 units x duration of 2 minutes = 200 minutes of fatigue, stress or suffering.

B. SHOOTING – 1. 100 stationary foxes shot by high powered rifle with the aid of a lamp at night in the general area of the chest - Human error leading to loss of wounded fox = best case scenario 10% - 2. 100 moving foxes shot by shotgun – Human error leading to loss of wounded fox = best case scenario 20%.

Summary -1. Rifles = 10 units x duration of an average best-case scenario of 5 hours = 3,000 minutes acute pain and suffering.2. Shotguns = 20 units x duration of an average best case scenario of 10 hours = 18,000 minutes of acute pain and suffering.

Simple Solution – Fox hunting is more humane than rifle shooting by a factor of at least 15, and more humane than shotgun use by a factor of at least 90. The use of rifles at night has to be considered in terms of wildlife disturbance, safety, necessity and the ability to follow up wounded foxes. The use of shotguns can only be considered humane where there is an opportunity for a second lethal shot, and the effective means of immediately following up a wounded fox with a foxhound, and the combined use of a terrier, if the wounded fox goes to ground. These conditions are met by well-regulated and organised gun packs, who rely on foxhounds and terriers to do their work humanely and efficiently. 

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