A gamekeeper and owner of a domesticated fox admits he supports fox shooting as a form of pest control.
Freddie Samuel, from Surrey, looks after pet fox Benjamin, but his job requires him to shoot other foxes that cause havoc on farms around the area.
Gamekeepers were originally meant as policemen of the countryside, providing shooting for the rich and famous.
Freddie, 24, said: “I am a gamekeeper and farmer so yes, I am for shooting foxes.
“My view is that everything has to be controlled and if there is no control then disease and interbreeding will overcome the fox population.”
Freddie lives in a caravan with his two dogs, Poppy and Maisie, and Benjamin the fox.
He said: “Shooting foxes on a farm is purely pest control to prevent foxes killing or injuring livestock (sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, goats etc) often without eating their prey.
“These livestock are the farmer’s business, income and livelihood.”
On the other hand, many are against the hunting of foxes and the concept surrounding killing a wild animal.
Phoebe Murray, 22, from Richmond said the shooting and killing of foxes for agricultural gain is a lazy excuse for ending innocent lives.
“Farmers can protect their produce against foxes by improving their facilities.
“However, this is likely to take more time and money and therefore farmers may sadly choose to kill potential invaders instead.”
Originally, fox hunting involved tracking and chasing foxes, to then kill, on horseback with hounds leading the troops.
The Hunting Act 2004 saw the hunting of foxes using hounds, deer, hare and mink banned in England, unless his hunting is exempt.
Freddie said: “The main problem is ignorance!
“People think ‘aww that cute fluffy animal that is not doing any harm.'”
The shooting of foxes requires “the quickest and most humane” way possible.
Mr Samuel uses high calibre rifles or traps which are designed to hold and not kill.
“I am not into trophy hunting and not into mass killing for no reason what so ever.
“I’m not someone who goes out for the fun of it, I’m someone who goes out for the practicality of the job.
“I’m a gamekeeper, I’m not a happy Saturday morning shooter.”
The Hunting Act 2014 does not cover the use of dogs in flushing out or stalking an unidentified wild mammal under certain conditions, such as ‘preventing or reducing serious damage which the wild mammal would otherwise cause livestock’ and ‘crops’.
No more than two dogs are able to be used when flushing out or stalking the animals and they are not able to go below ground, unless protecting birds for shooting.
Freddie said: “Not every fox in the world needs to be killed, as foxes have a very important job of clearing the countryside of dead animals.
“But the population needs to be controlled.”
Phoebe said: “”If a farm is unprotected from an unknowing wild animal it does not give the owners the right to kill it, especially those like foxes and rabbits that are only striving for their livelihood.
“Did no one read fantastic Mr Fox to them as children?”
The Act came into force on February 18, 2005.
For more information on the hunting legislation go to https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/37/contens.