Foxes survive even hunting



Tragic irony : The royal post chooses to show the beauty of a fox on it's stamps whilst the royal family advocates hunting.

Well,well, was it not the hunt fraternity that so often called anti-hunt protestors yobs? The answer is yes, which made the spectacle in Parliament last week all the more illuminating for one who has raised the hackles of the men in pink for a quarter of a century.

Yep, that is yours truly: the irritating warble-fly of anti-hunt journalism with a view from the inside which has annoyed them so much. The aforementioned warble-fly lays it eggs beneath the skin of some mammals, such as deer and goats, and once the maggots hatch out, they burrow outwards for freedom.

My metaphorical allusion to the parasite is partly based on fact, because when I was 10, my mum was the cook at the Quorn Hunt Stables in Leicestershire, and we lived there. That was my view from the inside. I saw it all, especially when certain huntsmen took me under their wing and, explained the traditions of hunting. "Young foxes are ideal for training the hounds," they told me. First we catch them and keep them in a box or in a sack, then, just to give the young hounds a chance to taste blood we cut the tendons in the cubs leg." The 'sport', or as they called it 'training', then ensued as the unsuspecting fox was released in front of the slobbering hounds. Of course it did not take long for the cub to be ripped to pieces.

They (the hunt fraternity) do not like my tales, and why would they, because my experiences completely debunk all of the tosh that they utter?

Take the young girl interviewed in London during the protest. "City people do not understand what goes on in the country. If hunting were made illegal all the hounds would have to be killed; they don't think of that do they?" she asked. Complete rubbish, and besides, it used to be the case that hounds past their sell-by-date where killed anyway, and then tossed into the pot with other farm-stock fatalities and served up to the packs for tea. Part of my initiation into country ways was to stir the pot.

A FOX meets its end after being hunted down by a pack of hounds

Another hunt supporter shouted down the microphone; "Hunting is the only way to control foxes." Yet more rubbish. What could be a more labour intensive and more futile method of hunting than on horseback across the English countryside? Why don't they just admit it, and let's face it they would gain more respect if they owned up to killing foxes for the fun of it. But no, the, protests are laced with pseudo-conservation talk. We need to control foxes for the sake of the farmer, they whine. More guff:

farmers are well able to control foxes themselves if they want to, and by other methods. Okay, foxes on occasion do take chickens and young lambs, but evidence has shown that many lambs eaten by foxes were dead before they began to dine; which means the fox was in fact performing a service.

Other scientific evidence, which I happen to believe, points to the fox population controlling itself anyway. In other words, fox numbers in the UK are at their optimum: they are everywhere, as readers well know, and if there is no room for young to disperse then they will rear less. Common sense from 'Mother Nature; and besides, don't you think they would have got rid of foxes if they could have done? The truth is, that Old Reynard has proved an altogether more able adversary than the polecat, white-tailed sea eagle, red kite and osprey, all either made extinct or very close to it, by similar people to those in London last week. Misguided and belligerent Luddites.
[The Advertiser 23 Sep 2004]


PLEASE congratulate Sean Wood on his article, 'Foxes even survive hunting', (Advertiser, 23 September).

Apparently his mum was a cook employed at the Quorn Hunt Stables, and as a young lad he
saw at first hand the disgusting way the hunt fraternity treated young foxes they had caught.
It seems to train hounds to hunt they would cut the fox's bodies so that the hounds could taste their blood.
Then they would release the injured animals so as to allow the dogs the pleasure of ripping them to pieces.
These are the same people who on television recently had the barefaced cheek to call the police barbaric.



Just face fox facts

So the hunt supporters think it's acceptable behaviour to dump the decomposing bodies of a horse, cow and calves' in the street to highlight the so-called plight (Metro, Wed)?
It just shows how sick these people are and how far they are prepared to go to keep hold of their vile pastimes. It's about time they stopped throwing their toys out of their prams and accept their days are well and truly numbered. Why don't the police let their dogs off their leashes and chase the protesters through the streets on horseback?

Andy Gaskarth, Birmingham

It is curious to see that pro-hunting groups are able to stage so many demonstrations. But then, a large number of hunters and hunt supporters are rich, so presumably many of them don't have to work like the rest of us.

The fact is that an overwhelming majority of MPs has now voted to ban hunting, This ban should be implemented as soon as possible, and we should move on, There are many other important issues that face us.

Kevin Gannon, London W12

What is best for the fox in the long term? In Scotland, since hunting was banned, relative figures show many more foxes have died through sanctioned methods. These include using horses to chase foxes towards waiting rifles, as this is the required pest control.

In South Africa, where hunting on private farms is allowed, many millions of acres of unspoilt land have been preserved. Farmers are able to host visiting hunters, ensuring the land remains economically viable. If hunting was banned, the countryside would be ploughed and crops planted - and the animals would be slaughtered or chased away to compete in already overcrowded areas, resulting in the deaths of thousands.

I believe that those supporting a ban have a short-sighted argument based on emotion, backed by pictures of bloodied, dismembered foxes. In a few months, they will be able to view the intact bodies of thousands of dead foxes in neat rows.

Ryan Skinner, London SW17

[Metro Sep 30,2004]

ON THE HUNT: I was wondering if Frederick Copley (Metro,Wed) could decipher the following stats based on the last time a fox got into my neighbours chicken coup. Number of foxes: one ; number of dead chickens: nine ; number of part-eaten chickens: one. My guess is either that foxes also kill for fun or that this particular fox was from the US; in which case the eight uneaten chickens would be collateral damage.

Peter Wheeldon,London SW20

The Metro Sep 16 2004

Real crises overshadowed by hunt ban

Much is being said M'luds,but nothing is being doneReg Sharpe reckons the House of Lords has soundly thrashed democracy, with regard to the fox hunting debate (Metro, Fri). It is democracy if a Bill passed through the Lower House and then rejected by the Upper House, without Tony Blair - bulldozing it through anyway. Just because Mr Sharpe may not like the result does not mean that democracy has been thrashed.
Furthermore, I feel it is a great pity that this country and Parliament seem to have spent hundreds of hours debating this topic -yet only about ten minutes on issues  such as the Sudan crisis and Zimbabwe. We seem to give more priority to the welfare of foxes in this country than we do to humanitarian issues that are causing the deaths of many more- worldwide.

Adam Way, London NW6

The Metro Nov 2 2004

ACT FACT: Adam Way thinks we give "more priority to a few foxes" than we do to humanitarian issues because Parliament has spent hundreds of hours debating the issue (Metro,Tue). That is a distortion of the truth.Animal Welfare issues account for a tiny fraction of total Parliamentary time.The reason fox-hunting seems to take up an inordinate amount of time is due to the filibusting tactics used by a minority of MPs to frustrate the  arcane way in which our Parliament works.The great majority of the public wants this issue dealt with once and for all,and that is what the Parliament Act allows us to do.

CK Yoe,Middlesex.

The Metro Nov 4 2004

But no peace in hunting..

PRO-HUNT campaigner Otis Ferry says supporters will cause  mayhem for the Government in the run-up to the General Election, in protest at the ban. The son of rock star Bryan Ferry told BBC's Breakfast With Frost he felt a 'total commitment' to continue hunting. The 21-year-old was among protesters who stormed into the Commons during a debate in September this year. He told Sir David: 'Hunting is not a hobby, it's a lifestyle.'

The Metro Nov 22 2004

Foxy visitors to our urban gardens

   BRAVE: This cheeky tbx is sat on a playhouse FOXES have always been close to the heart of our readers and there is virtually nothing in these parts that brings more enjoyment than old Reynard in the back garden.
In the past week alone, I have received around 10 calls about foxes in urban gardens, and as usual, they are all in praise and admiration of this resourceful mammal.
Two readers however, were concerned about their cats, and one further lady from Ashton was fearful for her little dog. I was able to allay their fears immediately, especially in the case of cats, because generally speaking, cats are well able to fend for themselves.
Both feline and vulpine have a good deal of respect for each other, best illustrated by a reader from Glossop who observed her cat licking its paws while a young fox circled her curiously, only to be taught an early lesson in life on venturing too close, when the moggy swiped him across the nose.
The half-grown cub apparently shot off into the undergrowth at the bottom of the garden.
Never underestimate the domestic cat in adversity; they have six defence mechanisms; four sets of claws, a fine mouth of teeth, and as a last resort they can urinate on their attacker. The latter is particularly vile, give me a good scratch or bite any day.

In extreme cases, the cat can also utilise its excellent climbing and jumping escape strategies. So please, do not worry unnecessarily about your poor defenceless and pampered purring pussies; at the flick of a switch they can turn into very mean machines indeed.
A couple of readers asked about feeding the foxes in their gardens. I explained that they could if they wanted to - but advised that the foxes would not be there in the first place if no food was available. Beneath garden sheds seems to be a favourite site for urban dens these days, and many correspondents have called to tell me of their delight at seeing cubs emerging from under their garden buildings.
Readers have reported that litters of six, seven and eight are not uncommon, and a friend of mine has video evidence of a fox with 10 cubs. He is a seasoned wildlife watcher and he could not believe his eyes as one after the other emerged from beneath a disused railway bridge. The very fact that the foxes have so many young is a good indicator that the pickings are good in this area, and why would they not be, when one considers the amount of waste we throw out.
The average toppled wheelie bin must provide at least a couple of days vitals. Chips, and left over burgers in the street will most likely be polished off before dawn, although it would appear that more and more cheeky foxes are eating in broad daylight.
Take a look at this rascal here photographed by Rob Mather; if you please, there he is sitting on the roof of a little girl's playhouse at noon. He did a bit of preening, yawned once or twice and then departed in his own time via the greenhouse roof, top guy.
The quality of readers pictures is just getting better and better, and as always I am very grateful for all your communications, please keep them coming.
[The Advertiser Feb3 2005]

Friendly foes: A fox and a cat in a reader's gardenOur cats are safe from foxy friends

Sean keeps quiet over hunting row

I HAVE been biting my lip over the past few weeks, and making a deliberate effort not to become embroiled in the fox-hunting issue. Although regular readers may find this strange, especially as my ant-hunt writing has appeared both locally and nationally for 27 years, the whole debate has become tiresome.
Yep; I am sick and tired of countering the moronic and outdated arguments proffered by the boys in pink.
Just as their jackets are red and not pink as they describe it, their rationale is ludicrous, with not one sound component of sense.
It always has been, and it always will be. I knew it was not enough for the hunts to be outlawed and it was obvious that they would take part in a long-winded and drawn out last breath for the tally ho.
There will be 'plays on words', filibustering and cynical misinterpretation of the regulations.

Rather than accept that in a democracy we need to abide by the wishes of the majority, the hunts will be out and about accidentally letting their hounds catch foxes.
At least we will not have any more high profile hare-coursing events such as The Waterloo Cup, no more outrageous claims from the organisers, wait for it, that the hares will miss it too!
Yeah right, they will be sulking in their forms before throwing themselves in front of the nearest dog begging to be chased.
On a lighter note, take a look at this picture taken by one of our readers; it answers a question asked by many of you regarding urban foxes -and pet moggies.
Typically, readers have been concerned that pet cats could end up on the fox's menu.
Truth is, it never happens. Our reader also showed me some newspaper dippings to further prove the point; a three legged cat is pictured seeing off a full-grown fox.
One more oft asked reader question has been addressed this week by the BTO. They have evidence to explain why millions of birds have shunned garden feed stations this winter.
As the Garden Birdwatch organiser, Mike Toms, notes."We have been inundated with phone calls from garden birdwatchers this winter, all concerned about the lack of birds visiting their  gardens.Many have noted how the food in their hanging feeders and on their bird tables is hardly being touched and that flocks of visiting chaffinches and greenfinches are either much reduced or absent altogether.
The most noticeable differences have been for those species, eg chaffinch, coal tit and nuthatch, that feed on tree seeds, particularly those of beech.
This suggests that the massive seed crops of last autumn have allowed many birds to remain within woodland, rather than visit gardens in search of food."
Another factor has been the mild weather; although the recent cold snap should have seen a few more birds in our gardens .
Generally, the ground has remained soft and birds like the blackbird, song thrush and starling have been able to reach worms and other soil-living invertebrates instead of having to rely on supplementary food provided in gardens.
Garden birders can discover which birds are likely to be found in their gardens by visiting and entering their postcode.
[The Advertiser Mar 10,2005]

Hunting to be banned as early as next February


Tally Ho: A member of the Badsworth and Bramham Hunt Rides in Wetherby,West Yorkshire,before yesterday's Lords voteA BAN on fox-hunting in England and Wales will become law next year after MPs and peers failed to reach a compromise on the issue yesterday.
Commons Speaker Michael Martin was forced to invoke the Parliament Act for only the fourth time since 1949 to force through the legislation against the wishes of the House of Lords.
Peers rejected a last-minute Commons amendment to the Bill which would have delayed it becoming law until 2006. Following Mr Martin's intervention, the Bill -which bans all forms of hunting with hounds - is likely to become law in February.
Ministers were anxious to avoid the ban coming in to force in the run-up to the General Election, expected next May.
They said they wanted to give people whose livelihoods depended on hunting time to find new work.
But they were equally keen to avoid the threat of civil disobedience and pictures of hounds being put down during an election campaign. Earlier, MPs overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would have held up the Bill until July 2007 but backed a compromise move to delay a ban until the end of July 2006 by majority of l5l. Before last night's vote in the Lords, Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael made a last-ditch attempt to persuade peers to accept the delay on offer, arguing that to reject it would be 'like turkeys voting for Christmas'.
The extra time would allow hunt workers to seek other jobs or retrain and for hounds to be found new homes,he said.
But peers' rejection of the compromise means the Bill will go forward for Royal Assent in its original form including the implementation date of February 2005.
However, hunt supporters have vowed to take their fight to the European courts and the Countryside Alliance has pledged to challenge the legality of 1949 Parliament Act.

[Metro Nov18,2004]

Metro 16/1/09

Unpleasant facts about urban foxes

CUTE: but urban foxes may not be all they seemI HAVE just read another of Sean Wood's articles, this time on the subject of the urban fox, but he misses out some of the less desirable facts.
Urban foxes are mangy, flea-ridden vermin. A majority are infected with the sarcoptic mite which results in mange (unsightly hair loss and sores) and this can be transferred to domestic pets and human beings.
All foxes carry a heavy infestation of fleas and a huge variety of worms, meaning children playing in an area used as a fox's latrine could be exposed to Toxicare Canis which can ultimately lead to blindness.
Foxes will doubtless give a big strong adult cat a wide berth for fear of injury; however, old, ill or young cats are a different matter altogether and I have personally found remains on several occasions.
Livestock-wise they will kill and carry off all types of poultry waterfowl and game as well as young spring lambs and free range piglets.
I have known Mr Wood for over 25 years and, although I find him a most amiable chap, his views are sentimental. Fit, strong and admittedly beautiful foxes are an integral part of the British countryside and I wouldn't like to see the back of them - however they are vermin and not some sort of harmless teddy bear
Address supplied
[The Advertiser Feb10 2005]

A fox answers its critics...

Having just read "unpleasant facts about urban foxes" I was wondering what a fox might say if it could reply.Maybe this:
'Although we always try to avoid you humans it's virtually impossible as your numbers are always multiplying and you're always extending your territory. Us foxes live off many different food sources.Yes, we do take livestock as we have always eaten small animals right back to  the days before you humans came along.
We're wary of your domesticated cats and dogs and we know where they are because of the prevalence of excreta.
But we know there will always be a meal at night lying in your local park or High Street. Yes, we live off your garbage,that's until the dustcarts remove it,which is a shame as we'd happily scuttle over three foot of rubbish,whereas you'd have to wade through it.'
Hob Hill Meadows 
[The Advertiser Feb17 2005]

Metro 5/1/08

How could anyone leave this without parents? [Metro March23,05]

The sick and warped reasons hunters give for their activities and why they are wrong:
Please also see my writings on logic, reasoning, and ethics and  which may shed light on the erroneous thinking of hunt advocates)

1.Hunting represents a way of  life that we can ill afford to lose.Any way of life that advocates the torture and misery of a living thing is a way of life we can not only afford to lose,but must do away with.Camilla Parker-Bowles has said that the fox has no natural predator - it does not need one - it is subject to population dynamics - if it eats to many starves - and this is no justification to kill something - otherwise we ought to kill people because they have no natural predator.

2. It's tradition amongst a community.On the 1st October the METRO featured an article on the Sforza Hours which depicted an illuminated page from 1490.It is now 2004,isn't it time we moved on and progressed past neanderthal concerns with blood lust.The hunters are out-of-date and out-of-touch.They are a minority that live in a democracy where the majority rule - the majority says "ban blood sports."If we can be that cruel to an animal,how easy is it for the same mindset to predominate when a human being is asked to consider the welfare of another human being. How apt then,that the hunters showed their true colours when protesting to parliament - they should not be dressed in red - but yellow for the cowards they are.."

3."Townies" do not understand the countryside.Sean is living proof of the fallacy of that statement - and further - one need not be a countryside dweller to know that to kill is wrong,indeed,if one were to believe in God (which I don't - I derive my morality logically)then one would be forced to be the caretakers of all creatures - I happen to have respect for life because I know God does NOT exist, and therefore it is up to me to determine morality - and I have discerned that there is no point in destroying a complex organism for the sheer reason that one wishes to - it lacks respect for nature and so any argument that says countrymen understand nature or as Sean said "pseudo ecological arguments" is just plain ignorant.Along with other arguments,this one shows alarming ignorance of Western philosophical thought, not to mention religious ideals as to what is a high moral stance.

4.If foxhunting is banned then hounds would have to be killed. Like all the facile so-called "reasons" that the excuse for human beings give,this is just as absurd,if not moreso.There is no cause and effect relationship that leads inevitably to the hounds being killed.Just because my pet dog loses it's rubber ball,that is no reason to kill it.These hounds reason d'etre is not to catch foxes - it is a gross miscomprehension of the nature of existence of a living form to assume it must be killed if indeed it's primary function is not completed.Indeed,the lions and bears kept in zoos are evidence that something need not be killed just because it's primary motivation to exist is removed.They should be set free. In the case of the hounds they are primarily alive like human beings just for the sake of it.They are not there at the behest of their human controllers,although those cloaked in red think they are.It is typical speciesism of them to think they ordain what happens to another life. When human beings are disabled - we do not kill them (although maybe euthanasia is more caring - that's another debate) because we know they can do other things besides that which their disability impedes.

5.People will be put out of jobs.Everyone runs the risk of being made redundant,there is no special case to be made for anyone to do with the hunting fraternity,quite the contrary,their way of life is redundant and inconsistent with a modern society wishing to rid itself of sadism and inhumanity. When the miners were put out of work they had to find other jobs,the rest of us have to,so why cannot the hunting fraternity? Threat of loss of a vocation is not a reason to justify immoral behaviour.

6.The numbers of foxes need to be controlled.Whether or not this is the case,the sick and barabaric maiming and chasing an animal to exhaustion and then ripping it to shreds is NOT how to control a population. Personally,I have studied population dynamics and anyone who claims culling is necessary by human beings is on very shaky ground.I maintain that those who advocate culls (as a lame and sick excuse to continue barbarism) are ignorant of the biosphere and how it functions.I doubt very much that they could cite Robert May's work to explain why populations find their own balance or why indeed they may get out of control.

The ground is even more shaky in the case of foxes.One is rarely privileged to even SEE a fox,and it is so scared of human beings (unsurprisingly) that it is unlikely to wish to breed where it would likely be disturbed.This is why so many are finding homes in towns and along railway lines (not places where one would find livestock). In the country it maybe different,but even so,this is no excuse for resorting to barbaric means of death.As Sean says above,there is scientific evidence that the fox population controls itself,if they eat too much they starve,if they breed too much,they starve. This was modelled as a first level derivative equation on nothing more sophisticated than a Spectrum home computer,but perhaps modern technology has not permeated the countryside populace.More on this can be found in "The New Scientist Guide to Chaos" ch4 p49 where Ian Stewart explains predator-prey models- but I doubt country bumpkins have any idea of that.

7.Foxes would die anyway.
So do hunters - so maybe we should kill them barbarically for the same reason. 

8.It's a democracy,we should be able to do what we want in a free country.
Not so - a democracy is ruled by those elected as representatives who then make the law,and if the law says you cannot hunt - then you cannot hunt - these are the same people using the law to keep people off their land - but when the rules don't suit them they resort to violence - the last resort of the ignorant and frustrated. A democracy is not there to support the aristocracy's traditions - a democracy should reflect the views of the majority - the hunters are impeding the democracy in doing just that - it is THEY who are being undemocratic.Perhaps they think smokers should be able to smoke where they want or that killers (which is what hunters are) should be able to kill if they want to - they would not apply this argument to human/human killing - it's no different for animals.

9. If hunting was banned,animals would die of lack of habitat. This is another farcical and misleading reason for supporting barbaric slaughter. The fact is habitat is being lost anyway,and hunting is NOT a way of preserving habitat - we should preserve habitat anyway,not because for the purpose of hunting. It's quite conceivable that habitat is maintained by golfers - I am not a golf fan - I think they are a pain - but at least their pursuit of a small white object causes no suffering unless one gets in the way of the ball - the point being there are OTHER ways to preserve habitat and at the same time not kill anything - it's ludicrous to compare the death or lack of propensity to life of animals though lack of habitat to the wanton barbaric acts of a few outdated mindless yobs.Sometimes emotion tells us what is correct - even if I am not an advocate of this means as a way of telling what is truthful - human beings ARE emotional - and it seems to me it is the hunters grasping at emotional arguments trying to hold onto an outdated way of life.

10. Foxes kill chickens indiscriminately and therefore should be hunted down like criminals.
This is another fallacious argument based on emotional excess.A fox,like a great white shark,is a predator - it's natural instinct is to kill - and as with the shark - the fox does not kill that much when measured with respect to how much human beings kill.The argument put forward by the letter "On the hunt" is fallacious because it metes out incomensurate and misplaced punishment - the solution is to protect the chickens not be angry at a fox who is only doing what nature intended - such human beings credit themselves with superior intellect and yet are unable to control their own emotions or see that chickens are not property and foxes are not subject to our laws on property protection - if it was a human being who had killed chickens then the punishment would not have been death - much more likely is that meat eaters would have laughed as they see chickens lives as cheap,even though they are made from the same DNA - it is their own lack of intellectual superiority that leads to fallacious arguments. This leads to their own speciesism,that Peter Singer talks of. If foxes kill for pleasure then they are only as bad as the people who do it - if we are intellectually superior then we should know better,the hunters can't have it both ways around.Like the recent crocodile incident,where it was killed for essentially being a crocodile and doing what crocodiles do - there is no justification short of killing for food or survival - human beings are in a privileged position of not HAVING to kill for either and presume to be morally superior,if we are,then we should be able to show mercy and understanding where animals are concerned and not exploit our position for their detriment - if we are nothing more than rapacious killers with rampant emotions,then we are not in a position to morally judge their actions when ours are as bad.
Hunters kill foxes indiscriminately,so maybe we should hunt them down like criminals - if we did so the plight of the fox would be highlighted - hunters would say that hunting people was wrong - hunting animals is wrong for the same reason - presumably hunters do not give animals the same status as human beings and yet presume we are superior by having a moral capacity - if anyone should be able to see the objection to hunting - it ought to be human beings who THEY claim are superior - amazing then that they are not able to use the capacity they say they have. 

11.Animals are lesser creatures than humans so it doesn't matter what happens to them.
The type of speciesism articulated by those who hunt foxes is the same type of bigoted thinking that maintained slavery and has routed entire civilisations.It maintains it's right to subjugate and control because of their own fear of their place in the world. The fact is,we are all made of DNA,and as such, if we do not give the same priority and concerns to animals we are unlikely to do it to humans.Those who think humans are superior,have not thought their position through. If indeed we ARE superior,then we ought to be capable of discerning what is morally unacceptable. If we do,then we discern that killing for killings sake is not right,and therefore hunting is immoral. If we wish to hunt,then we cannot maintain that we are superior to animals,as we are acting just like them. Our moral position on the treatment of so-called "lesser creatures" is an indictment of how we would choose to treat people.Those people who would hunt creatures have little respect for life and therefore have a less than concerned approach to anything comprised of DNA. For myself I do not consider myself to have a greater priority on this earth,merely because of how many base pairs happen to be active in creating my morphology. If people wish to argue that we have a mind,then we ought to use it to discern what is right. What is right is not to kill for thrill seeking pleasure.We cannot consider human tragedies to be of higher priority merely because they are about humans.Suffering is not limited to humans and human suffering does not deserve greater concern than that of animals.If one respects life for whatever reason,then one must respect ALL life,and not make arbitrary discernments about which has higher priority.
If through either creationism or personal experience one thinks mankind is a higer moral creature and is therefore able to treat animals how he wishes - then he ought to treat them with some respect - even drag hunting disrespects the creauture as an organism -what we would not tolerate happening to a human being - we ought not to allow to happen to another animal -for there is little to distinguish them.

12. Foxes are "vermin" and carry disease,so they should be treated with disdain,or even killed.
This is the same argument people use to be speciesist with any creature.They do not weigh up the relative risks and do not consider how human beings have affected the environment of the creature in question. Human beings,like as not also carry diseases,but if any given population of human beings were targeted...say AIDS victims - as "vermin" there would be an outcry that anyone doing so was a sort of "Hitler",and yet people will do this to animals without a second thought.  There are many risks in the environment,and people tend to be alarmist,because they do not understand mathematics,the fact is human beings do the most damage to the planet,and views such as that of Gordon Macdonald represent a view that suggests human beings have some sort of priority over other creatures. I suspect that such views come from not having considered ethics in any great detail or lack the means to carry out a proper risk assessment.Just because an animal carries a disease,or does harm to other creatures does not make it viable to be classed as "vermin"...this is just an ill-thought -out rouse for humans to treat certain creatures - rats,pigeons..and now foxes without any care.

Greenpeace,36Graham St,London,N1 8LL-Tel:01-251-3020

After 500 years, book is finished


ONE of the most famous books of the Renaissance, The Sforza Hours, has finally been completed - more than 500 years alter its creation The book of Christian devotions was privately commissioned in about 1490 and took 20 years to make. But, just before it was finished, three of its highly prized pages were stolen from the illuminator's workshop. He blamed a visiting friar for the theft. The missing leaves - painted by a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci resurfaced in the 1930s. By then, the British Museum owned the book and quickly raised funds to buy one page. In 1973, the book - an illustrated calendar marking the religious days and depicting monthly scenes passed to the British Library. It secured a second page ten years later. Now, the library has purchased the final stolen parchment, showing a stunning illuminated miniature of a hunting scene - the seasonal activity for October.

The book measures 13cm x 9.5cm (6in x 4in) and is said to be worth more than £l0million. The final page cost £191,000 and was obtained from a dealer in Chicago.

The Sforza Hours was commissioned by Bona of Savoy, alter her husband, Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, was assassinated.

Dr Scot McKendrick, the library's head of medieval and earlier manuscripts, said: 'The Hours is one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts. The acquisition of the October leaf ends a 500-year odyssey.'

The book is on show in the library's exhibitions gallery until December 6.

The Metro Sep 2004


Animals are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.

Another striking fact now rendered familiar, even platitudinous, by triumphs of recent genetic science is how closely all living things are related. Humans share more than half their genes with worms and fruit-flies, and almost all their genes with chimpanzees. Yet this intimate familyhood of life does not stop people from spearing worms onto fish-hooks, or testing drugs on chimpanzees. Nothing surprising there, you might say, given the way humans treat humans; in the face of gas chambers, racism, war and other avocations, what chance has a monkey or a cow? There are lessons to be learned from the way humans justify their treatment of animals - not least of those evolutionarily closest to them - namely, the apes. Apes, especially gorillas, have long been demonised in film and literature. Their similarity to us is used not as proof of kindred, but as a means of symbolising the supposed bestiality within us. Thus when Dr Jekyll drinks his potion he exposes a mythologised savage inheritance; his hands grow hairy, his brow beetles, his teeth enlarge: he becomes a horrifying gorilla-man. If it is not violence it is stupidity which marks the ape, betokened by tree-swinging, armpit-scratching and gibbering. You insult a person if you call him an ape. Yet apes are intelligent, inquisitive, affectionate and sociable, with capacities for suffering and grief that match our own, and with a grave beauty and dignity which recalls Schopenhauer's remark that 'There is one respect in which brutes show real wisdom when compared to us - I mean their quiet, placid enjoyment of the present moment.' There is a parallel between our excuses for maltreating apes and those for maltreating fellow humans. We locate a difference that we find threatening, or that we despise; we thereby make the other fully other, so that we can close the door of the moral community against him, leaving him outside where our actions cannot be judged by the same standards as apply within. Racism and speciesism are thus the same thing - they are myths about who belongs and who is alien. In their book The Great Ape Project published some years ago, Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer entered a plea for humankind to 'admit our fellow Great Apes - the chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans - to the same moral community as ourselves, thereby according them rights to life, to liberty, and to protection against torture - especially the kind of torture inflicted in the name of scientific research.' In the face of the genetic and behavioural evidence, there is no good reason why the moral respect and consideration that applies between humans should not apply between humans and apes. But note: the moment that the boundaries of morality are extended in this way, there is no obvious place to stop. All animate nature comes within the purview of ethics; and that, arguably, is as it should be. The world divides into vegetarians and those that eat them. Thoreau wrote, 'I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other.' There are plenty who argue that it is not immoral to eat a cow, especially if it has lived well beforehand. Lovers of cats and dogs would think it cruel to eat their pets, though, and once again the reason is the boundary: cats and dogs, horses and yet hamsters, have become quasi-citizens of the human world, and our treatment of them is premised on the same kind of concern for their interests as we show to other humans. We would not crowd dogs into a closed lorry as we do sheep when they are sent on long export journeys; that is a happy fact. But it is an unhappy fact that we crowd sheep into lorries, for sheep can suffer thirst and panic just as dogs - and humans - do. Humanity's record with animals is poor. 'We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation,' wrote Dean Inge, 'and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.' Some think that sentimental do-goodery over animals is a distraction from more significant moral matters. Perhaps; but a person's integrity is never more fully tested than when he has power over a voiceless Creature; and the route from pulling wings off flies to committing crimes against humanity is not a notably circuitous one.
[The meaning of things - A.C. Grayling]

It's perhaps also worth noting the mixed messages adults send to children about animals - on the one hand criminal behaviour is decsribed as being "worse than animals" whilst at the same time we have Disney cartoons and others with anthropomorphised animals in them displaying sometimes the best qualities of humanity. This is particularly paradoxical in the case of the fox - we have the children's character BASIL BRUSH who is an "old charmer" in the style of Terry Thomas, and yet Hunter's are telling us that foxes are vermin - humanity should get its ideas straight -either animals are our lessers and our underlings to be treated as peieces of meat - or they are bretheren creatures who deserve our understanding and respect - we cannot show them both ways around and expect children to grow up with a comprehension of their world that makes any sens - given the present concern about the ecosystem - and the nonlinear process that givern such things as the Gaia Hypothesis it is perhaps better to treat animals as other creatures on the same ride of life that we are and to show them some respect -then perhaps children's anthropomorphic characters would not be so paradoxical.

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