Dickens Had It Right: The Law is an Ass
J.R. Absher sent me a link from Horse and Hound in the U.K. which notes that "a terrierman for the Flint and Denbigh hunt in Wales has been fined £200 after pleading guilty to hunting a wild animal with a dog."
To give you an idea of the nature of the transgressions: The U.K. terrierman used a .22 pistol to dispatch a fox by placing the gun next to the animal's brain-pan and firing the bullet into the fox's cranium. While trying the case, the prosecutor described a .22 pistol shot to the head as being “entirely inappropriate” to dispatch a fox.
Really? So this prosecutor -- a Mr. Preston -- has killed a fox or two and knows what is what? I bet not! For the record, the Hunting Act says a shotgun must be used. More on that in a second.
Another transgression made by the terrierman is that he shot the fox in the hole where it was more-or-less immobile and the shot could be placed with precision. The Hunting Act says the the fox must be allowed to bolt free from the den and must be shot while it is running away.
Now let me put the question to you, eh? Which way would you want to go? Would you rather be shot with a .22 pressed firmly up against your brain pan, or would you rather be winged in the gut by a shotgun fired from a distance of 20 yards while you are running away?
One method is the quickest, surest and most humane method of firearms dispatch there is. The other guarantees the occassional maiming of hounds and hunters milling about, as well as the regular non-fatal wounding of bolted fox which will be riddled with shot but which will still manage to escape into the brush or rocks where they will die of sepsis or starvation over many days.
Not a hard call, is it?
No thinking or knowledgeable person would ever consider enforcing the Hunting Act as written. And that is a problem for the animal rights lunatics in the U.K. You see, though they are spending vast sums of money to drum up make-weight prosecutions to justify the end-result of their 50-year campaign of idiocy, there have been only three or four prosecutions. Not much of a bang! And while the Hunting Act was supposed to signal the end of fox hunting in the U.K., polls and surveys show the sport is as popular as ever and that even more people are in attendance. Woops!
It's all pretty laughable really. As I said in a quick note to J.R.:
"I think the total fines collected under the Hunting Act might total 50 pence a day for all of the U.K. Meanwhile, 10 times more fox are being killed by cars than by hunting with dogs, and the Times of London is calling fox in that city a 'plague,' while the Mammal Society reports that there are even more badgers in the U.K. than there are fox -- so many that the Government is now gassing them in their dens and billing taxpayers for the work. Amazing!
To say that the U.K. is a basketcase when it comes to wildlife management, is an understatement. It is truely an embarassment, and if they were smart they would bulldoze all of their current laws and management plans into a heap and set them on fire.
When push comes to shove, every American (whether they are a hunter or not) should fall on their knees and give thanks to folks like Teddy Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, John Lacey and Aldo Leopold. These gentlmen created a land and wildlife management legacy in this country that has resulted in more wildlife in the U.S. today than at any time in the last 100 years.
The British, on the other hand, have raised themelves up on a toxic mixture of 'Wind in the Willows' romanticism mixed with the bile of ancient class conflict.
The best thing a thinking subject of Her Majesty can do today is emigrate to America."
But of course, you don't have to take my word for how stupid and ill-informed The Hunting Act is.
Read what former officials of the so-called League Against Cruel Sports have to say about the law >> here. A former official of the RSPCA has chimed in as well.
After you have read that, go here to see how the animal rights lunatics in the U.K. are managing their own wildlife. A truely shocking disgrace, and a great sadness to boot!
For those who want to read more about the twisted history of terrier work in the U.K,. I devote an entire chapter to this issue in American Working Terriers, along with a second chapter on the history of American terrier work.
While there are some obvious parallels (we both have a Kennel Club, and we both have animal rights lunatics), there are important differences as well, and those differences are why we are not likely to slip down the road to insanity quite as quickly as the British.
Bottom line: Though we get a lot of things wrong in America (please feel free to list them all in the comments section), we have got one thing right in the last 100 years or so: wildlife management. And wildlife management in America will always have room for the hunter and trapper.
For those that want more light reading, see:
- The Hunting Act One Year On
- Urban Fox Now a Problem in London
- Urban foxes dumped to die in country
- Animal Rights Once Said Terriers Were the Solution
- A Pictorial History of Terriers
- The Cull of the Wild
- Shooting Out the Land
- These are the Good Old Days