HE marched against the hunting ban but Sir Ranulph Fiennes has dramatically changed his mind about the blood sport after encountering a hounded fox that took six days to die.
By Camilla Tominey
Sun, Oct 2, 2016
The polar explorer will today call on Theresa May to drop any attempts to repeal the Hunting Act after switching sides from the pro-hunting lobby to supporting the League Against Cruel Sports.
He will give a speech at a Conservative Party Conference fringe event in Birmingham tonight explaining why his views have changed so drastically on what he now considers to be a tradition of “brutal and insupportable self-indulgence”.
It comes as a poll last week revealed that 84 per cent of Britons do not want to see a return to fox hunting.
The Ipsos Mori survey also found that 73 per cent of Tory voters are against any reversal of the ban, which came into force in 2004.
Sir Ranulph will say: “Fifteen years ago I took part in the march through central London.
“I believed at the time – and I still do – that those in the countryside need to stand up and ensure that Government recognises its needs.
Sir Ranulph called the sport insupportable self-indulgence
You try being chewed to death by hounds – Ranulph Fiennes
“But these needs do not include the right to chase a wild animal with a pack of dogs.
“The conflation of ‘countryside’ with ‘cruelty’ must stop. As a conservationist, I recognise the value of the Hunting Act.
“Hunts talk about wildlife management, but the only ‘wildlife management’ hunts do is the raising of fox cubs to be hunted or baited.
“They talk about tradition. But the so-called tradition of terrifying wild animals for pure enjoyment is now, as it always has been, a brutal and insupportable self-indulgence.”
Sir Ranulph, who was the first person to walk to the North and South Pole and cross Antarctica on foot, as well as climbing Mount Everest, will reveal how he tried to save an “injured and clearly distressed” fox that limped on to his farm in Cheshire.
“I had come to know this fox well. She had raised cubs nearby and regularly visited the farm,” he will tell the audience.
“After my wife and I saw the fox’s injuries, we called the vet. We laced food with medicine and left it out for her in an attempt to prevent infection setting in from bites to her rear.
“Sadly, six days later, we found her curled up dead in a field shelter next to the house. She may have gone there to die because she knew it was a safe place.
“To chase a wild animal with a pack of dogs is illegal and has been for over 10 years.
The Cheshire Hunt chased that fox before our eyes and she took six days to die.”
Sir Ranulph’s farm is bordered by the Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire Hunts.
He claims he has had to erect fences and hedges and remove roadside gates to stop hunters getting on to his land. “Do not believe hunters when they say the fox has a quick and painless death,” he will add.
“Our fox’s death was slow and agonising. You try being chewed to death by hounds.”
The Conservatives promised a free vote on repeal of the Hunting Act in their 2015 general election manifesto.
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made the pledge a key plank of her leadership election campaign and has said she will push for the vote now she heads the department in charge of the issue.
However, campaigners say it is unlikely any vote will be won, saying the current odds are about 100 to 1.
Sir Ranulph will argue that Mrs May’s “Christian belief that we must stop human slavery” is not consistent with her supporting a repeal of the legislation.
“No one in this country should be above the law, yet a threat of repeal only emboldens those who seek to break the law.
“And the result of that is a relentless persecution of wildlife we are supposed to treasure.
“This is why I am now supporting the League Against Cruel Sports and its work to uphold, strengthen and extend the Hunting Act, and to end the persecution and killing of animals for sport.”
He will add: “I have seen both North and South Poles, I have seen the peaks of Everest and Kilimanjaro.
“I know the depth and beauty of the world’s natural environment, and I believe that Britain’s is worth treasuring.” The Cheshire Hunt declined to comment.
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Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports