Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hunting Act again

Yet another article on badgers and hunts.

In a democracy there isn't any reason why the Telegraph and the Times shouldn't print articles campaigning for the repeal of the Hunting Act every day of the week. What is objectionable is the way they "play the man and not the ball"; trying to discredit us rather than replying to our arguments, and that they are trying to stop the law being enforced rather than to get it repealed. It appears they don't much care whether their efforts to do this mean other welfare legislation stops being effectively enforced as well.

Badgers, unfortunately, are in the frontline because their setts provide convenient refuges for foxes (who don't have any way of knowing hunts aren't supposed to be chasing them and probably don't find it much comfort to be killed by accident rather than on purpose).

In the most recent incident, the RSPCA prosecuted after a hunt "terrier man" was found digging up a badger sett to retrieve a dog who was underground and (on the evidence of his bite injuries) engaged in fighting a badger.

The defence case was that they were not badger diggers (who would be found digging up setts in pursuit of dogs sent underground after the badgers) but were innocently trying to retrieve a terrier who had gone into the sett under his own volition.

In the event they were found guilty of the lesser charge of disturbing a badger sett (for which the evidence was incontrovertible) but not of intentional cruelty.

Would it really be a good thing if no-one dares to prosecute badger diggers so long as they claim to be rescuing dogs they accidentally allowed to enter a sett?

In some ways I think this is all part of a much bigger picture. Mainstream newspapers have become less able to generate the revenue needed to pay for proper investigative journalism. Animal welfare was already seen as a high-interest but low-importance topic so press-releases from interested parties are reproduced with not much attempt at fact-checking.

Fundamentally, I'm afraid, very few people in power think the welfare of animals matters much, which makes it all the more important that everyone with a genuine concern for animals puts aside their differences and works together. It's also essential that we all take part in the internal democracy of the RSPCA and encourage a large and involved society membership to counteract the forces of disinformation.

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