Fox hunting has been banned in several countries in Europe. In the UK, it has been banned for another two years, at least.
Fox hunting is a game hunting activity consisting of hunting, chasing and sometimes killing a fox (traditionally a red fox), using common dogs (and often Terriers) in general and foxhounds in particular, following them on foot or horseback.
Fox hunting originates in the United Kingdom but has been or is practiced in many other countries: France, Australia, Canada, United States, Russia, etc.
This activity is called in the Anglo-Saxon “beagling” when it is performed with beagles.
In France, in 2013-2014, 430,000 foxes were caught during the hunting season (from September to January), and some tens of thousands were caught using approved traps (hatch or cage), outside the hunting season, which makes a total annual harvest of about 430,000 foxes.
How is Fox in France?
The recent situation of the fox in France based on the interview between La Croix and François Moutou, naturalist veterinarian and honorary president of the SFEPM on the occasion of a national conference on the fox on May 12th and 13th explained that the situation of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is rather satisfactory, despite a large number of animals of this species killed on the hunt each year.
However, that several hundreds of thousands of foxes are hunted shooting in autumn (September to January) in France each year. Thus, in 2013-2014, 430,000 foxes were fished during the hunting season, and a few tens of thousands are caught using approved traps (hatch or cage), outside the hunting season.
This makes a total of about 500,000 foxes. Since the species is maintained with such pressure of sampling, the numbers must be much higher. It is known that, up to a certain way, demography adapts and compensates rapidly for withdrawals.
Why do we kill so many foxes, which are not game food?
The main pretext is probably the reduction of lowland bird game (partridge, pheasants), despite the annual release of 20 million repopulation birds. This is a consequence of intensive farming. In the end, there is, therefore, an inconsistency in the policy of sport hunting in France since, normally, many birds are released into the wild in order for hunters to be satisfied with it.
The problem also arises from the fact that the fox is still classified as a “nuisance” animal, while it does little damage. Naturalists have also obtained in the 2016 law that it be classified as “likely to cause damage”.
What is a pest?
According to the new 2016 Biodiversity Law, an animal must meet several criteria to be classified as harmful. It must wait for natural habitats, as well as wildlife; it causes significant losses in crops, livestock and fisheries; it endangers animal and/or human health; and finally for other imperative reasons of major public interest.
Concerning the third criterion, the fox may carry zoonoses, diseases transmissible to humans and vice versa. But today, we can no longer kill his fox by accusing the animal of rabies since this viral pathology, fatal for man, has disappeared in France since 1998. Hence, it remains essentially only on echinococcosis, a disease due to a flatworm, which can be transmitted to the man where it develops in the liver.
In general, the more the fox is killed, the more its population increases: it is a natural phenomenon of compensation, which notably involves the appearance of larger litters.
What is the true role of the fox?
Ecologically speaking, it is a predator, carnivorous, feeding mainly on small rodents (voles), which can also eat worms or fruits. Opportunistic, a fox can, especially in cities (he is present in the woods of Boulogne and Vincennes), feed on waste. Many works of ecology and ethology conducted recently show that its reputation as predator, harmful, is now outdated.
The fox is a large consumer of voles, thus limiting their devastating role vis-à-vis cereals and meadows. At the symposium, a cow dairy farmer from Doubs, who protects the fox to defend his crops against the outbreaks of voles, will take part. In addition, contrary to what some breeders believe, the fox does not attack lambs, kids and other calves born in the grasslands. On the contrary, it plays a role of purification by devouring placentas.
Finally the harmful role of the fox as “chicken eater” is virtually zero, because it does not attack large poultry farms. Certainly, it can chew some volatile here or there, but in so-called family farms, whose fences are most often poorly maintained.