By Melissa Reitz
Animal rights and welfare groups are up in arms as calls to end Spain’s uncensored fox hunting, a savage practice which sees over 12,000 foxes slaughtered every year, is being ignored.
Fox hunting season is permitted to take place annually across four regions of Galicia as organized competitions. Funded by the government, these championships allow a free-for-all slaughter of foxes, using dogs to chase the animals down. The hunter who can kill the most foxes is the winner.
In a recent Facebook post, hunters are shown using a caged fox to taunt and excite their dogs in preparation for the hunt. The petrified animal is then released and shot at close range.
The Spanish Government has been criticized for financing shotguns with public money through agreements with the Environment Ministry.
With no scientific census on fox numbers, lobbyists say the hunts, which are defined as a culling system, are being hidden behind a smoke screen of environmental excuses.
Responding to a parliamentary question on why the Ministry allows the cruel sport, the European Commission said the fox (Vulpes vulpes) is not a protected species under EU legislation and therefore there is no basis to intervene in the massive hunts, or in the methods used.
But Party for the Animals (PACMA), a Spanish political party defending animal rights and welfare, say the sport is an outrage. They say the City Council of Galicia is ‘promoting savage cruelty’ and the sport should be classified as a crime.
A recent petition, that garnered over 200,000 signatures, called to ban the practice, saying the use of dogs ‘causes cruel behavior with other animals.’ They demanded that the championships, which have been an annual event for several years, be terminated.
Protestors say that not only is fox hunting extremely cruel, but it’s also dangerous for citizens and 16 people have died as a result. Adding to that, masses of lead, in the form of ammunition, is left in the countryside polluting water and poisoning other animals.
“This kind of shameful cruelty needs to be stopped urgently. The world is no longer in a position to overlook such random acts of wildlife carnage,” says David Barritt, chief executive for Network for Animals (NFA).