MR Fox misses several points in his reply to Mrs Causnett's question on hunts blocking bolt holes (Does the hunt block bolt-holes for foxes? Letters, May 8), many of which have already had excellent replies.

However, there is an additional fundamental point that I would like to setright.

Mr Fox stated in his letter: "I can assure Mrs Causnett that foxes do not feel pain as we humans do, their nervous system could not support it."

At a conference held in August 1991 in Bangor, North Wales, researchers presented papers demonstrating that mammals feel and appreciate pain in exactly the same manner that we humans do. Their nerve systems, and responses to pain stimuli are directly comparable to ours.

I am a veterinary surgeon who qualified 40 years ago, and have had extensive experience of dogs and other small predators and their responses to illness and injury, and support this view.

Foxes feel and react to pain in exactly the same way we do - they don't like, it Mr Fox, it hurts.

Foxes do kill opportunistically for food and in excess of their immediate requirements and, given the chance, will store the carcases, much as we fill our fridges from a supermarket.

It therefore behoves stock-keepers to take full account of this and keep foxes separate from farmed livestock; this is good husbandry and common sense.

Research has also shown that "control" of foxes is fruitless, as their numbers are regulated by their ability to find food, and that any gaps in their geographical distribution are soon filled by further breeding.

JB Campbell, Port Road, Wenvoe, Cardiff.

  • I HAVE to be grateful to the readers who supplied me with answers to my question whether escape routes to the hunted fox are blocked up, even though I feel sick and sad at the confirmation of my fears.

As far as the reply from Mr Fox is concerned, I don't think the fox realises that it does not feel pain like we do, as I know for a fact that even hardened devotees of this vile sport have had their delicate ears offended by the shrieks of agony emitted by this poor animal as it is torn apart by dozens of sharp teeth.

Not feel pain? Who is he kidding? As far as nature being cruel is concerned, we humans surely hold the record, we are certainly the cruellest, most cold-blooded and selfish species on the planet. Yes, cats do play with a victim, and foxes do slaughter indiscriminately when faced with several hens in a coop.

However, most animals kill purely for food. As far as old foxes dying slowly of starvation, what about litters of cubs who undergo the same death when foxholes are blocked off, leaving the vixens outside to provide live fodder for huntsmen? And if foxes have to be controlled, why are they bred specially to satisfy the bloodlust of hounds and huntsmen?

  • have also been told, since my letter in The Press, that cubs bred for hunting have their paws cut, so as to leave a trail for the hounds, and foxes are often caught and bagged, without food or water, until a hunt is due to start. Who, in the name of God, can call this a sport?

Heather Causnett, Escrick Park, Escrick, York.

  • I AM sorry to write again so quickly, but the nonsense from Mr J D Fox must be addressed.

His allegation that foxes do not feel pain because "their nervous system could not support it" is drivel. A dog yelps if you step on his paw because it hurts him - likewise the fox, which has a fully developed nervous system and feels pain acutely.

Neither do foxes kill "wantonly". Foxes, being omnivores, subsist on many foodstuffs, including small mammals, berries, fallen fruit and worms.

When they find prey in abundance, as in a ramshackle hen coop, they will kill while they can, and if left undisturbed, take away their kills to cache for later use.

This is a survival technique decreed by nature, with no more "cruelty" involved than a bluetit pecking up aphids.

Neither are foxes "prone" to disease. They are beautifully evolved wild dogs with a strong immune system. However, a fox that has been hunted for many miles and manages to then escape the hounds would be shattered, massively stressed and exhausted, and miles from his home territory. This would be just the fox to then decline and perhaps catch a disease he would otherwise have been fit enough to resist.

Foxes do not need to be "controlled", as they control their own numbers through their reproductive mechanisms, which are dictated by the amount of available food and territory.

Penny Little, Protect Our Wild Animals, Great Haseley, Oxon.

  • I WAS amazed at the letter from Mr J Fox (The Press, May 10). How can he possibly suggest that foxes do not feel pain as "we humans do"? Such a belief may have had credibility in the 16th century, but no longer holds water.

Not only does common sense suggest that animals feel pain as our own bodies feel pain, but the nervous systems of humans evolved along with (and from) other species of animals. When pain is inflicted, behaviour is similar in both humans and animals.

Experiencing pain matters to the animal individual in the same way as it matters to the human individual.

To suggest that the "central nervous systems (of a fox) could not support" pain as humans feel pain is an absurdity expressed to justify the infliction of unnecessary suffering upon wild animals simply for human entertainment.

Louise Clark, League Against Cruel Sports, Union Street, London.