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Thursday, 3 December 2015

On Foxes and Hedgehogs...Sociopaths Included

From The Reminiscences Of A First Whipper-in (1904)

"On October 27th, 1882, when the meet was at Thorpe 
we had another clinking good day after a stormy blustering 
• The largest number of cubs killed in one morning at Bradbury Wood is 
ten, viz : — four and a half brace accounted for at the time, and one 
picked up next morning, making five brace. It may be added that at the 
same time six brace went away before a kill was recorded ! Possibly the 
North Durham hounds have eclipsed this, as I hear on the authority of
their Master, that they once killed in one day the following mixed bag, 
viz. : — a brace of foxes, two cats, one hare, one cock pheasant, 
one weasel, and one hedgehog ! "
Also, you discover a good few horses fell (killed)and everything joyfully recorded yet when you 
read the pages it is disturbing on a scale I had not thought about before. Yes, we know the extent of 
fox killing but this book is typical of its kind at that time: these were the landed gents or people with 
money and they took great pleasure at what they were killing and the numbers killed. Hares (causing 
a bit of an argument because hares were the preserve of the hare hunters), dogs, cats -jolly fun. 
I had never actually considered the psychological make-up of these people -other than the fact that they 
were most definitely "disturbed" because of the enjoyment they got from killing vixens "in cub", cubs and 
really, just about anything else that got in the way. Re-reading Russell's book I wondered what a 
psychologist might make of it all?  Certainly I would not  want to live next door to these people.
The modern myth is that "all" country folk supported the fox hunts and this is actually a proven lie 
-especially if you research the periodicals of the 18th and 19th centuries -it is only when some small 
holders pets or live stock are killed and the impudent wretch takes legal action that we hear the "but 
this is pest control!" excuse.
Looking at the numbers killed by just a few hunts you can see why the true British fox became 
near extinct, in fact there may not be many true bloods in the UK now because many thousands 
of foxes were imported yearly "for the sport of fox-hunting" and every manual on fox-hunting, every 
magazine article as well as interviews with, ahem, as the press called them, "great hunters" made that 
very clear: it was a rousing sport for gentlemen and ladies.
Then we have the "damn sad" state where earths are opened and searches made but no foxes to 
kill -"Where are they all -we killed at least thirty last season!" It is almost like the sociopath killer 
who looks around a body strewn bar because he can't find anyone else to kill.  He shrugs and asks 
"Where have they all gone -none left?"
It took between 1977-2010 to compile the data in Red Paper: Canids and until it was all put 
together I never really truly realised what had gone on. How the British fox was on the very brink 
(if it didn't actually fall over into the abyss) of extinction.  How it might today be just a memory like 
the lynx, the wolf, the bear and other British mammals hunted to extinction.

Above: sadly, this one got better after mange treatment but vanished.

Above: from about three years ago?  Still have at least one visits.
A quick end note. 
And here is a thought while we currently believe the British hedgehog is endangered with 
perhaps just a million left across the UK. 
Up until the early 20th century there was a bounty paid for each hedgehog killed in most areas 
despite the creature being known as the "gardeners friend". In the Scottish Islands where they are 
not wanted they are killed. It's cheaper than trapping and transporting to the UK mainland. 
You want to put poison down for ants? For slugs? You put out poison for mice and rats but 
are not trained in how to do that? 
You are killinghedgehogs. 
Oh, and please: never EVER put out milk or bread for hedgehogs!!! Hoggie is lactose intolerance and 
bread - not good. Leave some fresh water in an old dish -a saucer- and put out a little cat meat.
We all need to help our wildlife.

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