|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/03/10 21:46 《Speak 2 Me》|
Fox hunting is coming under fire in Britain.
The British countryside is known as a place of peace and quiet, but not this afternoon. The frantic barking of dogs, the noise of horses’ hooves, and the sound of the horn announce that there’s a hunt on today, and that the sun will set on at least one less British fox.
Fox hunting is a tradition almost as British as afternoon tea. Hunting foxes started out as a necessity: left unchecked, the animals were a pest that would kill farmers’ chickens and sheep. Eventually, however, England’s upper class turned it into a sport and today’s hunters dress and hunt just as their great-great grandparents did.
But today, fox hunting itself is on the verge of becoming an endangered species. Critics of the sport say it’s pointless and cruel. They insist that the threat posed by foxes to other animals has been blown out of proportion. And there’s certainly something unsporting about a dozen men and women on horses chasing a frightened animal across the countryside. When it’s finally cornered, the exhausted fox is usually torn to pieces by the dogs.
Rubbish, say the hunters. The foxes are usually shot before given to the dogs, they say. Also, not only does hunting keep the fox population under control, but it also supports the rural economy, providing jobs for people taking care of the dogs and horses.
But time may be running out for the hunters: nearly four in five Britons are against the sport and 50 counties have already outlawed it. Late last year, Britain’s parliament passed a nationwide ban, but it won’t go into effect for another year. Until it does, British foxes need to watch out.