29 Oct 2006

News From Melton Mowbray: Another British Fox Hunt Turns to Falconry

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Neil Everley of the Quorn with Golden Eagle/Steppe Eagle cross

As we noted last December, the infamous February 2005 Hunt Ban, enacted by Britain’s Labour Party as a gesture of class animosity and urban spite, banned hunting par force du chien (i.e., the traditional pursuit and reduction to possession of the quarry by a pack of hounds), but included certain loopholes: drag hunts (i.e., hunts in which the pack hunts an artificially created line of scent) are lawful; and hounds can be used to follow a scent and to flush out a fox, which may then be pursued by no more than two dogs, and ultimately shot or taken by means of falconry.

The strange consequence of this vile legislation has been a curious revival of falconry employing large raptors by several enterprising hunts. Last year, the Cheshire Hunt was seen taking to the field accompanied by a European Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).

This year, the illustrious Quorn is training a huge Eurasian Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos chrysaetos) and Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) cross.

Melton Today

Hat tip to Steve Bodio. I’m less pessimistic than Steve’s correspondent Patrick, who evidently accompanied the link he sent Steve with prognostications of havoc.

Let’s see — amped up hounds, lots of people, a couple hundred horses, a panicked fox, and someone in a coat and tie handling a massive Golden Eagle cross in the middle of it all. Madness on stilts if you ask me! When the eagle is injured or killed, it will be described as an “accident” rather than planned stupidity.”

I’m sure some very interesting misadventures (and ones worth writing about!) will inevitably occur, but it’s all part of the game in the sporting field. And I’m rather pleased myself at the irony of the same detestable English Puritanism which nearly extinguished the ancient sport of falconry in the British Isles in the 17th century, inadvertently ushering it back in in the 21th century, and in a particularly colorful and grandiose form to boot.

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Graham Rigby

I’m not sure we’ve ever been called ‘enterprising’ before, but thanks anyway from all at the Cheshire Hunt. You’ll be pleased to hear that ‘Twit’ and ‘Twoo’, as our owls are known, have been doing a great job. A new season has just started here and we’re determined to carry on until the ban is lifted….



JDZ

Did you see the earlier post?

https://neveryetmelted.com/?p=363

Good luck with your current season, and let’s hope that one day soon competent Tory leadership will appear, win an election, and repeal the Hunt Ban.

My wife noted the connection of your owls’ names to the old song:

“Of all the birds that ever I see,
The owl is the fairest in her degree.
For all the day long she sits in a tree,
And when the night cometh, away flies she.
Twit, Twoo
To whom cries thou?”

Cheers,
David



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