Fox hunting in UK

Your article [March 24 cover story: "Tally no! Matthews bans the hunt"] says fox hunting was banned in the UK. This is a bit of an overstatement.

Though a few rules have changed, the mounted hunts in the UK are now culling over 100 fox a week– about the same as they were before the so-called "ban." This is entirely legal and will continue.

The UK hunts are culling fox the way they always have. Some fox are chopped by hounds which catch them above ground, but it's also perfectly legal to bolt foxes from dens with terriers and shoot them. In fact, it's now required. You cannot bolt a fox from a den and simply let it go as was the practice before the animal rights people got involved. If you find this ironic, you are not alone.

Here in the US, terrier work is mostly focused on groundhogs, and when foxes are dug (December-February), they are almost always let go. This would now be illegal in the UK, thanks to the animal rights lobby. To say this law was pushed by ignorants and drafted by fools is an understatement.

Your magazine's articles on fox hunting have relied entirely too much on people who know very little about foxes even if they know quite a lot about dressing up and riding around. I would recommend purchasing Running with the Foxes by David MacDonald, the world's foremost fox biologist.

Not only does Dr. MacDonald not oppose fox hunting, he believes it has actually been good for the fox. Prior to mounted fox hunts, foxes were rare in the UK, as they were routinely killed by poison and leg-hold traps. Those methods were banned with the help of mounted hunts, while vast land holdings have been protected for the purpose of providing habitat for foxes.

Indeed, the presence of red foxes in Virginia is entirely due to the mounted hunts. "Our" red fox is not a native animal– it was imported to be hunted, since the native gray fox climbs trees.

By the way, the state dog of Virginia is the American foxhound!

Patrick Burns