SETTING animals against one another, whether by way of bear baiting, cock fighting, hare coursing or fox hunting is a barbarity which should have no place in the 21st century.

When hunting foxes was legal, the number killed that way was insignificant compared with the numbers killed by pest controllers, yet Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance attempts to argue that hunts provide an important service by flushing out foxes.

As he says, farmers can use up to two dogs for flushing out.

The Prime Minister wants to amend legislation to remove this limit, which would allow packs of hounds to ‘flush out’ foxes as an underhand way of ensuring that legal challenges against fox hunts would be ineffective.

This is despite opinion sampling which consistently shows that a large majority don’t support the return of hunting.

Mr Bonner considers that using additional dogs for flushing out would be more effective and potentially more humane. Is a fox less terrified of a pack of dogs than of two?

Fox hunts often ended in the fox being ripped apart and, occasionally, pet animals which crossed the hounds’ path suffered the same fate.

I don’t imagine MPs are more bloodthirsty than the public at large, but they need to be circumspect about what they would be voting for.

Should a vote come, the many anti-hunting MPs might consider a complementary change to the legislation to require ANY dog used to flush out foxes to be muzzled to prevent mauling.

After all, just the appearance of a dog will make a fox flee.

Dennis Fryer, Calmore