The predominance of livestock farming in Wales and the nature of the terrain mean that fox control to protect livestock is absolutely essential. 96 % of farmers in mid Wales controlling foxes do so for the protection of livestock, compared with 44% in the Midlands and 27% in East Anglia (Burns Inquiry, 2000).
The Federation of Welsh Farmers Packs has undertaken research which justifies its original concerns that the Hunting Act currently makes it extremely difficult to effectively manage the fox population. In most practical circumstances and especially in the uplands due to terrain restrictions, dogs are heavily relied upon to manage the fox population rather than alternative methods such as snares, traps and rifles which are not as effective.
The Burns report states exactly these concerns:
“In upland areas, where the fox population causes more damage to sheep rearing and game management interests, and where there is a greater perceived need for control, fewer alternatives are available to the use of dogs, either to flush out to guns or for digging out.” (para 5.43)
Preliminary results from research being carried out by the Federation of Welsh Farmers Packs suggests that two dogs are not effective at flushing when compared to using a larger number depending on the area of cover. Using only two dogs increases the time it takes to flush from cover and restricts the ability of farmers to control foxes.
- Using only two dogs greatly increases the amount of time a fox is pursued within cover before it can be flushed and shot.
- Using only two dogs significantly reduces the number of foxes flushed and shot.