Monday, 23 July 2012

A Story with no winners.

Here is a sad tale of events which took place last week. We all have our own views about foxes and we all have our own views about shooting of pheasants - some for and some against. I can only report what happened - and I feel totally impartial about it, although sad. I don't agree with fox hunting, and I don't agree with shooting, but our little group of local farmers do have a bit of a syndicate, shooting on our own fields through the pheasant-shooting season. The farmer doesn't shoot but he does enjoy walking round with the beaters and we both enjoy the social occasions when the season is over. Because of the syndicate, they buy around 250 pheasant 'poults' and keep them in a pen in one of our neighbour's fields.

Here begins the story. One of our farmer neighbours has a small caravan park on his land and over the last few weeks it has been full (5 maximum caravans). The people staying there have been absolutely delighted by the sight of a vixen playing with her two young cubs. I have to agree that it is a sight which I would also love to see. Then one night last week the vixen earned a black mark from the watchers when she turned up home with the day's food - two black hens.
Where they came from nobody seems to know, but obviously from some hen coop not too far away.

The next night saw a very different and much more dramatic story, when the two cubs got into the pheasant pen intent on having some fun. Of course, the more they dashed about and jumped in the air, the more the pheasant chicks panicked and by the time the cubs had finished, eighty of the chicks were dead. (noneof them eaten).

We have a patient young man willing to sit and wait for them to come back. He sat, he waited, they came back the next night. Sufficient to say that he despatched them both quickly and cleanly. I suppose all we can say is that shooting, if it is cleanly and accurately done, is more humane than the hunting with dogs, which is what would have happened once the fox-hunting season arrives. But there are no winners here, only losers - and sadness all round.


MorningAJ said...

I thought fox hunting was illegal.

I daren't comment on this.

Unknown said...

That absolutely breaks my heart...poor little cubs. No doubt they'd have continued to menace the local poultry population so I can understand why they needed to go.

Heather said...

Life is cruel and nature is cruel.
I remember the awful sight which met our eyes the morning after we moved into our previous house. Our neighbours kept geese and the elderly father was taken ill so they took a risk and didn't shut them up for the night and took him off to hospital. A fox killed all but two - the paddock looked like a battlefield and we hadn't heard a thing.

angryparsnip said...

I am surprise that the farmer didn't build a safer place to keep the birds. It is not like he didn't know there are foxes around.... He should be ashamed of himself.
If you have a safer pen then the fox will eat the mice and rats and whatever critters destroy his grain.

Where I live I have a small fenced yard but I always check the yard first even in the day for Bobcats and Mountain Lions, they can jump the fence. The evening I never let my dogs out by them selves because of the coyotes. When my son walks the dog they are always on a lead because if they chase a Javelina family the males will kill them.

An once of prevention......

I am not surprised by the knee jerk reaction of that farmer. Covering up his own mistake instead of owning up to it. He is sure lucky I am not there, because I would really tell him off.

I can't even write my usual sign off because I am so upset.

Beacee said...

This sickens me.
If the birds are of value they should be properly protected in the first place, but why is it ok for them to be terrorised and killed by man rather than beast?

Tom Stephenson said...

Same old story - bad management of chickens by humans will allow fox predation, and foxes are programmed to kill everything in sight that is flapping around a poorly protected coup.

There really is no excuse to lose all your chickens to one fox. If people are so stupid or mean that they cannot provide a safe haven for chickens at night, then they should either stop moaning or leave it to battery farms to provide them with eggs.

I speak as a shooter who is also a member of the Countryside Alliance, though I am damn sure I don't represent their views.

Pondside said...

I've read some of the comments and have to wonder if those readers have ever kept hens. We have a good coop. Stout, and tight. A determined weasel or mink got in one night and killed 15 hens - not to eat, just to kill. This is in a pen that has wire dug down into the earth and wire fencing every known gap. If one keeps hens or other fowl for food one must be prepared to deal with the animals that prey on them - and prey they will. You're right - there were no winners here, but I don't understand the automatic assumption that the farmer was negligent.

Cloudia said...

A well shared, and tonic, dose of reality in the country life.

Much appreciated.

Sincere Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

angryparsnip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dominic Rivron said...

Hopefully it wouldn't have happened when the fox hunting season arrives either as it's now -thankfully- illegal to let the dogs in on the kill.

Dominic Rivron said...

I should also add, you say "none of them were eaten". This is a charge often levelled at foxes - that they just kill with no intention of eating what they've killed. Exactly what a lot of human hunters do, really.

Cro Magnon said...

I must say that as a boy we were taught that 'shooting' foxes was simply NOT DONE, but of course nowadays it's almost obligatory. I lost a whole run-full of hens many years ago. One was taken, most were dead, and a few still flapped around; about 25 in all. The wire run was sunk into the ground, the sides were tall, and it was covered. We never discovered how the little bugger got in; nor did we hear a sound. That was nearly 40 years ago, and we've only just returned to keeping hens.

The Weaver of Grass said...

No AJ - fox hunting is not illegal - killing them with dogs is illegal (thank God) - they are allowed to hunt but the actual kill must be done cleanly with a gun. May I say at this stage that I personally am one hundred percent against any kind of fox hunting - dogs or guns. I am also against shooting pheasants etc., but I do recognise that it is a country sport (so called) and we are a free country, so people are free to join in if they so wish. My own view, for what it is worth, is that rather a quick clean death like this than being hunted by dogs, which I imagine is terrifying - and the hunting season draws nearer.
As to secure runs - well I can't really comment because the farmer concerned was quite a long way from our farm and I don't know the state of the accommodation - but I do know it has housed birds for the past few years with no trouble.
My own hens are free to roam in our fields and often go a long way from the farm. So far I have lost none to foxes - it is a risk I am prepared to take because I like to see them roaming free. Yes, we never miss shutting them in at night - they always come back at dusk.
As I said - there are no winners. Thanks for your comments - they are so interesting.

Golden West said...

My daughter's garden is being undermined by gophers below and skunks above. Plants are disappearing down holes and being clawed and torn as the skunks dig for worms. There is no easy solution, that's for sure.