Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Animal group's fear of fox hunting being 'brought in the back door'

Release date: 
Thursday, January 27, 2011

FEARS have been raised that fox hunting could be 'brought in the back door' by being awarded cultural heritage status within the EU. Animal group Viva! raised the alarm at recent comments made by Lincolnshire MEP Roger Helmer, suggesting that a recent UNESCO decision to give Falconry cultural heritage status, so protecting its future, should also be applied to fox hunting. In a post on his website, Mr Helmer says: “…hunting is woven into the fabric of rural life, an unbroken thread of culture that binds man to his natural world…And if falconry is an intangible cultural heritage, then undoubtedly English fox hunting is as well. Viva!, who have been one of several animal groups campaigning for the Hunting Act of 2004 to remain, are deeply concerned that this may be a route the pro-hunt lobby are planning, which could theoretically bypass the democratic process. Campaigns director, Justin Kerswell, says: “Mr Helmer's comments about fox hunting being an 'intangible' part of cultural heritage should be of concern to anyone who has an interest in the welfare of animals. “Pro-hunt politicians know that they will not win a vote on hunting. So it is worrying that some might be looking for other ways to bring back this barbaric practice - even by possibly side-stepping the democratic process. “In France, the production of foie-gras has been enshrined as part of the cultural heritage, which effectively prevents Europe from banning this famously cruel practice in that country. “Animal welfare groups in the UK would fight any moves to try and do the same thing here for fox hunting. “We used to dunk witches in England, but who would argue that still makes up part of our cultural identity today' We ostensibly left fox hunting in the last century - and that is where this horrific abuse of power over our natural heritage should stay. We have to draw a line between preserving our national identity and practices that should be abhorrent to any civilised society. Fox hunting is well over that line. “Yes, fox hunting is steeped in tradition - but it is a tradition of cruelty and privilege. We should actually be celebrating the end of the war on wildlife, not looking to step back into the dark ages. Whether pro-hunt politicians like Roger Helmer like it or not, the majority of Britains do not want a repeal of the hunting act - it is something they should accept graciously and move on. “Before the hunting act was brought in, we heard all the doomsday tales of the end of the countryside and the end of communities. That panic mongering came to naught. Country life has changed for the better, certainly not the worse. For more information about Viva!'s action to keep the Hunting Act, visit www.viva.org.uk/huntingban or call 0117 944 1000. ENDS For more information about this press release, contact press officer Helen Rossiter or Justin Kerswell, by emailing helen@viva.org.uk or Justin@viva.org.uk or calling 0117 944 1000. Out of hours, please call 0794 453 3021. To read Mr Helmer's comments, please see this link http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/news/Hunt-master-admits-hounds-stray...