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Foot & Mouth Ends, Hunting Starts by Harry Mather, Vegan Views 91 (Winter 2001/02)

The Foot and Mouth Crisis which has lasted almost a year has officially ended. Millions of animals have been slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease and millions of TV viewers have agonised at the sight of piles of shot animals being burnt on funeral pyres. Yet the same animals were not destined to live out their lives but due for slaughter at an early age. Slaughterhouses are dealing with millions of animals each year, but they are hidden out of sight and out of mind. All that the general public see is a plastic-wrapped portion to cook for dinner, or a pre-cooked dinner or a sausage or burger, which they do not connect with an animal killed to provide them with a meal.

Foot and Mouth is not a killer disease. The animals recover before long and it is harmless to humans. The reason why such drastic measures were taken to stem the disease was that no animals could be exported until the country had been declared free of disease. Now there is a possibility that exports can resume, involving long, cruel journeys. Compassion in World Farming is resuming its campaign against live exports. The European Parliament is working to reduce animal suffering and have voted a limit on live animal journeys to 8 hours or 500 km. Hen battery cages are due to be banned by 2012.

The Foot and Mouth Crisis also led to a ban on hunting. Fox hunting resumed in December and so has the debate on hunting with hounds. Hunt supporters have claimed that hunting is necessary in order to reduce the fox population. So have nine months without hunting resulted in an explosion of the fox population? It seems not, because the Beaufort hunt has been found dumping the carcasses of deer near artificial foxholes, which they created to encourage the fox population to increase. Dumping the deer carcasses was a contravention of the regulations made to prevent the spread of Foot and Mouth disease. The Beaufort hunt is one of the country's most prestigious and is patronised by members of the royal family.

A man keen on shooting foxes says he was asked by the local hunt to leave foxes for them to hunt. After all, if they exterminated all the so-called vermin, there might be nothing left to hunt.

Scotland has shown the way by voting 84 to 34 on a ban on hunting. The UK government is slow to follow, knowing that any such bill will meet strong opposition in the House of Lords.

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Cross-reference: Foot and Mouth Disease
Cross-reference: Hunting and Shooting
Cross-reference: Animal Rights