Fox hunting has been banned in the United Kingdom since 2005, but there are many arguments in favour of fox hunting and some believe that it should be legalised again. The main reasons for this are that it is a form of pest control and conservation for other species.
Most large predator species were made extinct in Britain as a result of human activity. Animals such as bears previously kept the fox population in check, however, as a result of their local extinction and the lack of fox hunting since 2005 the fox population has exploded and they adversely affect the ecosystem due to their large numbers.
Fox numbers have been rising since 2005. There are approximately 250,000 foxes in the UK and a further 425,000 are born every year. Urban foxes especially have become a menace and have been known to attack people and rip open bin bags, causing unhygienic and unnecessary mess.
In addition, rural foxes often prove problematic to agriculture. They kill livestock including poultry and lambs, and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has estimated that around 2% of otherwise viable lambs are killed by foxes every year. This reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of our agriculture and is symptomatic of the bigger problem of fox large populations.
DEFRA further states that foxes “may cause localised problems to free-range poultry interests”. This means that it becomes significantly more difficult to farm free range animals and results in cruelty to the chickens which are kept inside for their whole lives until slaughter.
The manipulation of our environment with industries such as agriculture razed swathes of forest, and heavy hunting drove many large predator species to extinction. This extinction of predators has therefore meant that the fox has no natural threat bar man, which results in the fox population exploding and affects the diversity of our ecosystem.
Animal habitats are very finely balanced and any changes to the food chain can result in devastating effects for the ecosystem at large. As such, it is our duty to maintain this fragile balance and keep the population of foxes to the level that they would be that if we had not killed all their natural predators. Large fox populations mean that they eat more prey species such as white rabbits and hares, which recent studies have found are declining in numbers in Britain.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why fox hunting should be legalised again. It helps keep the environment balanced and results in better living environment for poultry which would otherwise be kept inside its whole life. However, many argue that the methods of killing are cruel to the foxes, although it is worth pointing out that hunting with dogs is still one of the most effective methods of finding where foxes’ dens are due to their superior noses.