Organizers write, “The key aim […] will be to call on the new Conservative minority government to bring an immediate end to the cruel, costly and ineffective badger cull policy and to strengthen rather than seek to repeal the Hunting Act.”
They also want to “raise public awareness of the barbarity of fox-cub hunting, otherwise known as ‘cubbing’ or ‘Autumn hunting’, which is currently in season and has started across the UK.”
Additionally, the driven grouse season starts August 12, the same day as the march, and is reportedly “detrimental to the much persecuted Hen Harriers.”
According to the organizers, the march is “expected to be the largest ever British wildlife protection protest” and will bring together “thousands people united in their determination to stop the government from playing politics with the future of our wildlife.”
Although opinions among UK-based pagans obviously differ on the issues surrounding various forms of hunting, the community in general remains opposed to wildlife cruelty as described by the host organizations. UK Pagans, across various spiritual paths, support of the ban on fox hunting, and a number of Pagans are currently engaged in activism against the more recent badger cull.
Fox hunting in the UK has been a practice for several hundred years, until a ban was introduced in 2004. That legislation bans the hunting of wild mammals, most notably foxes, deer, hares, and mink, with dogs in England and Wales.
Drag hunting – the practice of dragging a bundle of scented material across the countryside to allow the dogs to follow a trail – is still permitted. Therefore, traditional fox hunts across the UK are still active.
Policing the ban is obviously problematic. Hunts are wide-ranging and often occur in remote areas, and the police are overstretched. Whether these hunts actually keep within the law remains a concern.
Badger culling was trialed in the South West of the country in 2013, in an attempt to control bovine TB. The theory was that badgers were contracting the disease and spreading it to cattle.
However, there is significant scientific controversy over whether this is actually the case. Now concerns are being raised over the way that the culls have been conducted.
This particular issue has raised concerns in the Pagan community. Colin Lovelace said, “I just hope DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] see sense and at least stop killing badgers whilst they re-examine the huge amounts of data and evidence that shows culling badgers will never stop btb [bovine TB] transmission.”
“In my area, North Cornwall, there were relatively few farm breakdowns until culling began last year and since then the breakdowns reported by DEFRA on ibtb website has exploded,” Lovelace went on to say.
“As predicted, culling badgers increases outbreaks. All the research recently carried out shows infection from badger to cattle is minute, less than 5% as previously known from previous culls. 95% of infection is cattle to cattle or from contaminated slurry spread on fields. The weight of evidence against culling badgers is enormous but DEFRA refuses to look at it.
“The only way to control btb is better testing methods, vaccinating, and tighter movement controls of cattle…Very angry, very active doing everything in my power to obstruct this cruel and damaging cull.”Maggie Bond, a representative of the Pagan Federation said, “The badger cull is despicable and there is no scientific evidence to prove that badgers are spreading bovine TB. With regard to fox hunting, this is a so-called ‘sport’ and serves no useful purpose.”
She added, “Blood sports are archaic and have no place in the 21st century. The majority of the British public do not want the hunting ban to be repealed.”
Activist Diane Evans said, “The Badger culls so far have been inhumane, astoundingly costly, caused prejudice and violence in communities and not achieved the desired result ….yet they are still going on. The elephant in the room is the demand for cheap food and greed in the western world for choice and plenty of it regardless of the cost to animals’ lives and the Earth…
Evans has been involved in actions against Badger Culling and theFox Hunts. “Millions of people protest against Badger Culling and Fox Hunting and a good part of these follow a Pagan path,” she said. “I don’t believe we stand up against such barbarism just because we are Pagan but because we are in the main, decent people trying to protect these animals and the Earth we all live on. I guess the fact that we hold them in such high regard is why we followed a Pagan path in the first place.”
The level of feeling against these practices continues to run high, both within and beyond the Pagan community in Britain. There will be reportedly a considerable Pagan presence on the forthcoming march in the capital.