The Telegraph is still trying to help fox hunting by publishing very creative claims

Cleveland Hunt before setting out hunting on Boxing Day 2016 Telegraph
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The Telegraph has reported on a letter that claimed foxes are suffering a “catastrophic decline” because of the hunting ban. However, it left out some important details about the letter’s motivations. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise from a paper that’s elbow-deep in the dying hunting industry.

Careful with the truth

In an article headlined Hunting ban has caused ‘catastrophic decline’ in foxes, warn vets, the Telegraph covered a letter that it said was written by “more than 100 vets”. The article, published on 9 May, said the letter claimed the Hunting Act had led to a “decline in rural fox numbers”. Moreover, the authors reportedly said that “red foxes are approaching extinction” in some parts of the countryside. And it appears the letter’s authors gave the Telegraph exclusive access to reporting on it.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Despite the fox hunting industry facing setback after setback, the Telegraph has stuck with it. But in order to do so, the paper has to carefully pick its way through the truth.

Although it said that 103 vets have signed the letter, the Telegraph provided only a single name: Louisa Cheape, a member of the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management (VAWM). The organisation’s bland name belies its underlying motivations as a pro-hunt lobby group. In fact, as anti-hunting website Wildlife Guardian pointed out, it started out in 1999 as Vets for Hunting. Meanwhile, Cheape herself is deeply engaged in the hunting industry. In March 2022, for example, she hosted the Fife Foxhounds on her land. Cheape also openly supports hunting lobby group the Countryside Alliance.

The real reason

The Telegraph also had to distract from another glaring problem in the letter. It reported that the letter in fact admitted rural fox numbers are falling as a result of:

a tougher zero tolerance attitude among land managers

The authors couched this claim by saying hunting was more discriminating in the foxes it killed – that it killed only the “weakest animals”. In other words, by the letter’s own admission, it’s gamekeepers and farmers that are responsible for an alleged plunge in rural fox numbers.

Read on...

However, the Telegraph glossed over this glaring inconsistency. Instead, it cooperated in making the supposed impact of the ban the key takeaway by putting that in the headline. And, by planting that story into the media, the Telegraph has added to the ‘welfare washing‘ of the hunting industry.

Desperate times for the hunting industry

The Telegraph is convincing nobody other than those that already support the hobby, of course – but that’s the point. The hunting industry is now on the ropes. That’s thanks primarily to hunt saboteurs and monitors, but also to people such as Chris Packham and ITV News reporter Rupert Evelyn for dragging the hunting industry out into the sunlight.

As it flails about, the hunting industry is realising that shoring up its existing support will be crucial in securing any sort of future. That’s why it created the British Hound Sports Association after the implosion of its predecessor, the Hunting Office. And that’s why it’s trying to pass itself off as a compassionate, rather than cruel and bloody, pastime.

None of this comes as a surprise from a paper that has a history of disregard for dignity and truth. But it does reveal the desperation of the declining hunting industry today.

Featured image via Mick Garratt/Geograph, licensed under Creative Commons, resized to 770*403

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