I used to live in a hunting community in Somerset; they didnít waste their time piddling about with foxes, but went after deer instead. They canít use the straightforward Ďdisposing of verminí argument about the deer (although they do a damned sight more damage economically than foxes), because they had wiped them all out on the Quantock Hills by the end of the nineteenth century. Consequently they had to reintroduce them in order to bring hunting back. Amusingly, the argument they use instead is Ďwe control the deer numbers, but if we werenít allowed to hunt them, the farmers (i.e. us) would wipe them all out to protect their cropsí.
Like Mark, Iím not that bothered about the huntersí prey when domestic animals are regularly packed into lorries to be shipped long distances and greeted at the other end by a walk into a building stinking of death, a bolt gun, a hook, and some rather sharp knives. What I despise about the hunting community is their belief that they have a God-given right to do what they please when out for a dayís jolly. Consequently, they tear up the countryside in 4x4ís and then park them wherever they fancy, blocking roads and driveways with gay abandon: Just try asking them to move, and see what happens. When they were meeting up the road from her, the only way my friend could pick up her kids from school was to park her car a quarter of a mile away from her own house in the morning and walk out to it in the afternoons. This was a bit of a bummer given her chronic arthritis. Also, these buffoons have the cheek to complain about dogs savaging sheep, when their packs of hounds race around the countryside under very little control, regularly disposing of domestic pets unfortunate enough to cross their path.
Still, you donít want to imagine that banning hunting with dogs will do the foxes any favours: Last Summer some well-meaning dolts released seven urban foxes into the woods where I live, so that could have a happy life in the country. My next-door neighbour poisoned the lot of them.