Social impact of foxhunting on rural communities
In rural areas hunting assumes great significance beyond the activity of hunting because of its social contribution to the lives of rural communities. Hunting gives participants a strong sense of “belonging” to their local hunt in following a shared activity. This cohesion of hunting communities became ever more apparent during the foot and mouth crisis. An example being trained hunt staff helping with the contiguous cull their professionalism was much appreciated by farmers.
A survey carried out by Product Studies Research in January 2000 reported that:
- 273 hunts hold a total of 18,000 hunting days each season.
- Total annual attendance at these meets is 1,280,000 persons of which 42% are mounted and 58% are un-mounted.
- Hunts organise much else besides hunting. 285 hunts organise over 21 different types of equestrian and social events. Each year this totals 3,950 functions with an overall attendance of 1,326,000 people.
The statistic on the un-mounted followers is of particular interest and political relevance. For many retired people, following the local hunt during the winter months is their chief leisure activity.