LETTER: Appalled at Festival of Hunting to be held in Peterborough - peaceful demonstration against sick and barbaric sport

The Fitzwilliam Hunt hold an event on Boxing Day each year
The Fitzwilliam Hunt hold an event on Boxing Day each year
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We, as a group, wish to express our disappointment that the East of England Arena and Events Centre is once again hosting the Festival of Hunting on Wednesday, July 19.

We strongly believe that this is nothing more than a celebration of illegal hunting.

Theresa May’s pledge to hold a free vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act is widely seen as one of the reasons for the Conservatives’ loss of their majority at the General Election. Hunting is deeply unpopular (there are believed to be 70 Tory MPs who also oppose a repeal).

We believe that the act actually needs strengthening.

It is far from perfect, but it is all we have at the moment. We would also like to see the police actually enforce the act.

One loophole of the act is the bird of prey exemption, which means hunts can use a pack of hounds and a bird of prey to “get around” the act.

They use a pack of hounds to “flush a live quarry” to the waiting bird – which then kills the fox/hare/deer. However, we’re not sure how whizzing a hooded bird around fields on a quad bike and then making it compete with a pack of baying hounds for its prey is particularly fair.

And the live animal is still chased to within an inch of its life. It’s barbaric and cruel.

The other exemption – trail hunting, in reality, doesn’t exist. Hunts claim to follow a pre-laid trail without actually hunting a live animal.

But we often see “accidental” kills as hounds “stray from the trail” – a trail that, if hunts are to be believed, we have seen laid across gardens, roads and into wildlife parks.

Hounds will kill any fox or hare they come across – and if you are following a trail, why do you need a full pack of hounds to do so?

Anyone who watched the last series of Springwatch will have heard the fact that the number of foxes in the UK countryside are in decline – mainly due to a fall in number in their main food source – rabbits. Therefore, we also challenge the need to control fox numbers at all.

It has been estimated that the average fox saves a farmer £400 a year through their diet of rabbits and other “pest” animals.

The idea of foxes taking lambs is a myth (unless they’re very sick – or already dead) as is the “chicken slaughter” fallacy.

As an opportunist predator with families to feed, they will kill all the available chickens – but with the intention of returning for the food they are unable to carry back to their families.

Maybe the responsibility should be on those who keep animals to house them securely?

We will be joining a peaceful demonstration at the Festival of Hunting on the July 19 to express our distaste for illegal hunting and the murder of our native wildlife in a sick and barbaric manner.

We will be doing the same at the Haycock Hotel in Wansford on New Year’s Day when Peterborough hunt, the Fitzwilliam, meet for their New Year hunt – another celebration of an out of date “tradition”.

North Cambs Hunt Saboteurs