Hunts face amal­ga­ma­tion to sur­vive

The Field - - Opening Shots -

In­creas­ing de­vel­op­ment and the growth of ur­ban at­ti­tudes are forc­ing hunts to con­sider amal­ga­mat­ing and shar­ing coun­tries, warns the Mas­ters of Fox­hounds As­so­ci­a­tion (MFHA). It is putting a process in place to en­sure that more than a dozen hunts strug­gling due to lack of coun­try and in­come can keep go­ing.

Un­der MFHA guide­lines, a hunt must: have enough coun­try to al­low hounds out at least two days a week; a pack of hounds; suit­able ken­nels; a rea­son­able level of lo­cal sup­port; and enough money to cover costs – in­clud­ing one full-time and one part-time mem­ber of staff in the ken­nels.

This Novem­ber will see the first open­ing meet for the Es­sex with Farm­ers & Union Hunt fol­low­ing the amal­ga­ma­tion of Es­sex Fox­hounds and Es­sex Farm­ers & Union. The merger was for­mally rat­i­fied in May.

“The big­gest is­sue was the name change,” says Christo­pher Pad­field, Mas­ter of the Es­sex, “but what it has done is taken the pres­sure off each of our coun­tries and made it much eas­ier to nav­i­gate round all the shoots. We now have a mas­sive coun­try [stretch­ing from Brad­well-on­sea to the Cam­bridgeshire bor­der] and are in­debted to the lo­cal farm­ers and landown­ers for their sup­port.”

Adapt­ing to the chang­ing coun­try­side is vi­tal for hunt­ing to pros­per said Polly Portwin, who runs the CA’S hunt­ing cam­paign. “If that means re­sources have to be shared to re­duce over­heads, amal­ga­ma­tions or merg­ers con­sid­ered, or even the rare clo­sure of a hunt through no fault of its own other than be­ing sim­ply un­sus­tain­able, then this is how hunt­ing has to progress to en­sure it not only sur­vives, but ac­tu­ally thrives,” she said.

A new dis­ci­plinary body and more staff train­ing are among the re­forms an­nounced by the MFHA for hunts in Eng­land and Wales.

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