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Effective and humane say hunters The crux of the whole fox hunting debate for many people is the issue of cruelty Is being chased for several hours to be killed by a pack of dogs cruel No say hunt supporters citing the top dog of the packs natural instinct to administer a quick nip to the back of the foxs head which they allege kills it outright They also point to research by Dr David McDonald at Oxford Universitys Wildlife Conservation Research Unit which suggests that the average duration of a hunt is 17 minutes The fox does not anticipate death they say so is not unduly traumatised by the pursuit And the alternatives - shooting gassing snaring or poisoning - would all inflict much more pain and suffering on the foxes Already 10 times as many foxes are shot each year than are hunted to death they say That figure would only increase if hunting was banned Yes it is cruel and its unnecessary say animal welfare groups campaigners and acitivists They point to the fact that the fox has no natural predators except man and is therefore not accustomed to being chased They say that if and only if there is a specific problem with a fox in one area then shooting by a trained marksman is the only humane way to deal with the problem And they do not accept the country sport lobbys stance that foxes are pests and need to be destroyed somehow The Countryside Alliance - the group representing many areas of countryside interests including hunting - says that in order to answer the question one must first define cruelty Foxes need to be controlled say country sportsmen and women They refer to The Scott Henderson inquiry under the 1949 Labour government The Henderson Committee considered cruelty to be an act causing unnecessary suffering and went on to elaborate So far as general cruelty is concerned
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