Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
One of the most extraordinary characteristics of the hunting world is its resilience. Every hunt, from the smallest pack of beagles to the grandest of foxhounds, is a self-contained community and there is a strength that comes from unity.
Opponents of hunting have never even started to understand that which is why they have been so surprised by the utter determination of hunts to continue after the Hunting Act came into force in 2005. Even a brief reading of history should, however, have warned them that hunting has consistently adapted and survived despite fundamental change and predicted demise.
From the then cataclysmic 19th century court judgment that trespass applied to hunts, to the coming of the railways; from the universal spread of wire fencing, to two world wars; from the massive expansion of the road network, to the loss of huge areas of hunting country to housing and infrastructure, there have been dozens of occasions when the rest of the world, and hunting people themselves, have predicted that hunting must die.
Yet each and every time there has been the determination and leadership within hunts to adapt and not just survive, but thrive. Who could really believe that in some of the most crowded parts of our crowded island, in an age of endless regulation and restriction, hounds still hunt their line?
The Hunting Act is no different to all those other challenges that hunting has survived. The Alliance will continue to expose its manifold flaws and work towards a legal resolution based on evidence and principle, but the tumultuous politics of the moment means that resolution is not imminent. It is extraordinary to think now that not much more than a decade ago our Government could have wasted 7 years and 700 hours of parliamentary time on such a pointless piece of legislation.
In the meantime, a successful newcomers’ week saw even more youngsters (and a few more mature novices) join the hunting field, opening meets have seen strong support from one end of the country to the other and the hunting season is now in full swing. It is not ‘the same as it was’, but it never has been. Hunting will continue to evolve and as long as there are hounds, hunts and enough countryside to hold them it will prosper.
Follow Tim at @CA_TimB