Letter: Fox shelters

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The Independent Culture
Sir: There is a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation about the purpose and use of artificial earths (report, 29.1.99). Animal rights groups often claim, falsely, that by using them hunts are "breeding foxes." You cannot breed animals that are living in the wild.

The majority of artificial earths were built many years ago. Their purpose is to make it simpler to find the existing fox population in places where they can be hunted safely and successfully. Where there is an absence of natural cover, artificials provide dry shelter for a fox. This encourages them not to lie up in places where it is difficult or imprudent to find them on hunting days, such as in land drains, garden sheds or other outhouses on the edge of villages or towns. It also discourages them from lying up in and around farmyards, often close to vulnerable livestock.

In short these earths exist to help control the fox population, not the reverse as implied by the League Against Cruel Sports.

PAUL LATHAM,

Countryside Alliance,

London SE11

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