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Quarry

The Coyote: Thriving Through Persecution

dr. stanley gehrtDr. Stanley Gehrt and an anesthesized coyote in metropolitan ChicagoThe Belle Meade Hounds in Thomson, Georgia will once again stage their annual Hunt Week—Gone Away with the Wind—this season from January 18 to 24. As before, the week will be fun-filled with hunting, parties, a hunt ball, and the camaraderie of the field.

As a bonus, this year’s affair will feature a fascinating presentation by special guest Dr. Stanley Ghert, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology and a Wildlife Extension Specialist at Ohio State University.

Dr. Ghert, who has enthralled foxhunters at MFHA meetings over the years, will talk to Belle Meade Hunt Week attendees on Thursday morning, January 22, about his special subject of research—the coyote. This much-aligned animal has survived and even flourished over the past hundred years despite the best efforts of the federal government to eradicate it.

Early in the twentieth century, at the behest of western ranching and agricultural interests that were losing stock to predators, the U.S. Government instituted program after program designed to erase the wolf, grizzly bear, mountain lion, and coyote from the landscape. The programs were mostly successful in their purpose. The wolf, grizzly, and mountain lion were driven nearly to extinction. The coyote, however, was the one predator that not only survived the pressure, but increased its population and its range, slowly expanding eastward and covering now the entire country. How it did that is one of the mysteries of the animal world.

Norm Fine's Blog

Win or Lose, Some Good Has Emerged

norman.karen.farnleySometimes good things eventually emerge from bad moments. Most people around the country don’t really dwell on animal welfare. Representatives of the small, vocal, and well-financed animal rights movement make their strident claims, and the media spreads their gospel. Those who live with animals are not as well organized or as well financed, and their voices—generally—aren’t as well heard. So it has been in New York City, where some good things—honest truths about animals—have finally emerged after a year of bad moments.

Under the guise of animal welfare, hungry real estate developers are seeking to put the carriage horses and their drivers out of business. They see money to be made in developing the horse stabling premises right there in the heart of the city. To that end they contributed large donations to Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign last year. It’s been a year of bad moments for truth about animals.

While the battle isn’t yet over, some amazingly beautiful and honest prose has been published in the responsible media setting the record straight on false claims of animal abuse that were initially so persuasive to a misinformed population. And that’s a good thing, because it so seldom happens.

On Monday this week, a New York Times editorial led with: “Here is something the New York City Council can do to end 2014 on a high note. It can vote down Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to abolish carriage horses.”

Our Hunting World

How I Came to go Foxhunting

steve price at scarteen2Steve Price on his first foxhuntSome time ago in Norm Fine's Blog we asked the question, How to did you come to go foxhunting? Fine told his story and received some good Comments in response. Here’s Steve Price’s story. Use the Comments field to send us yours!

It happened nearly forty years ago. I was half of a two-person equestrian journalist junket to Ireland. Over lunch in his home at Scarteen, Master Thady Ryan invited us to join him the following day. My companion happily agreed, but I demurred. My jumping skills were limited to beginner courses---egg-rolls and twice-arounds---and I had seen the formidable banks and ditches separating the County Limerick fields.

“Aw, I’ll give you my best hunting horse,” Thady assured me, “you’ll be safe as houses.”

In for a penny… I shrugged, and went along.

Hunt Reports

The Galway Blazers at Craughwell

Galway Blazers huntsman Tom Dempsey and whip Anthony Costello hack home with the Bitch Pack after a cracking days hunting in CraughwellGalway Blazers huntsman Tom Dempsey and whipper-in Anthony Costello hack home after a cracking day's hunting in Craughwell. / Noel Mullins photo

The County Galway Foxhounds (the Blazers), hunted by Tom Dempsey, had a brilliant day's hunting at Craughwell, finding five foxes and running each one to ground.

The hunt was formed in the early nineteenth century and hunts about thirty square miles of unique limestone wall country. The first Master and huntsman was John Denis, an ancestor of the late Lady Molly Cusack-Smith, MFH, who, neé Molly O’Rourke, hunted the Blazers during World War II. There were many other well known Masters, including Isaac (Ikey) Bell, father of the modern English foxhound; American film director John Huston; and Captain Brian Fanshawe, one of England’s illustrious Masters (Warwickshire, North Cotswold, and Cottesmore) and renowned breeder of foxhounds. Two Field Masters that held office for long periods were Lady Anne Hemphill and Willie Leahy.

The Galway Blazers have some of the very best hunting country in the world. To say it is unique is an understatement, with miles of small enclosures, resulting in often fifty stone walls to the mile and uninterrupted views of hounds hunting. To hunt even once with the Galway Blazers is on most hunt followers’ bucket list.

Norm Fine's Blog

Ten Years of the Hunting Ban in England

norm DSC0995Liz Callar photoIt’s been ten years now since England’s Hunting Act of 2004 was enacted by the Labour government, and neither side is satisfied, says Stephen Moss in The Guardian.

To give the briefest of recaps, here’s what the law allows. Two hounds may be used to flush a fox to a gun; a pack of hounds may be used to flush a fox to a bird of prey; and/or a pack of hounds may follow a drag.

Most hunts in England and Wales opt for the drag. The problem comes when hounds find the line of a live fox and switch from the drag. At that point, huntsman and staff are supposed to stop hounds. The huntsman says, Easier said than done. The hunt monitor with his video cam rolling says, Not only did you fail to try to stop hounds, you even encouraged your hounds! There’s the rub, and there’s the basis of most of the prosecutions in court. In the end, it all depends on the persuasiveness of the evidence.

Tony Blair, prime minister at the time of the bill’s passage, later wrote that his support of the legislation was a mistake. When David Cameron, a foxhunter himself, became prime minister, he promised a free vote in Parliament aimed at reversing the ban. However, he has not been able to get enough support within his own government’s coalition to give him the confidence to push for such a vote.

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