The International Hunting with Hounds meeting was held this year in Middleburg, Virginia Oct 10–14. The IUHH is a group of representatives from eight countries that hunt with hounds who meet once a year to share information on hounds, diseases, horses, country, prey, and the anti-hunting threat. This coordination has been invaluable— many of the representatives are able to use the information in their home countries to solve problems. We’ve learned that countries face many of the same challenges.
Abbreviated highlights of this meeting were:
- Everyone was impressed with the new MFHA Headquarters where Billie-Jo Pearl, the new office manager, hosted the meetings and took the representatives to the Virginia Field Hunter Championships on Saturday after the meeting.
- Belgium: Philippe Casier’s reported Belgium is very involved with FACE (European Federation of Hunting and Conservation) which monitors European hunting affairs. Belgium is very restricted. There is no mounted hunting in Belgium but several mounted hunts that are located in Belgium actually go to France to hunt.
- USA: Cameron Sadler reported there are many challenges and opportunities going on in the MFHA. The MFHA is working on a new strategic plan to determine the optimal way to drive our mission and serve the needs of our members. Some of our priorities are aging and declining subscribing members and doing everything possible to attract or keep interested juniors and young adults into hunting.
- New Zealand: Nikki McHugh, President of the New Zealand Hunting Association, which is the governing body of 28 hunts. The NZ hunting Association keeps a website, studbook, classes on kennel standards, judging hounds, media responses and educating staff and Masters. Challenges include changes in land use, farming, access, irrigation, fencing, concern for landowners and government changes in legislation and animal welfare that affect hunting.
- Ireland, Oliver Russell reported that there are 46 foxhound packs and 50 Harrier packs in Ireland. There was a considerable discussion on landowner relations.
- France, Society Venerie, Pierre de Boisguilbert gave a very in-depth report on all areas of hunting. He stated the largest problem is now the increase in anti-hunting demonstrations, with 51 consecutive weeks of demonstrations. There were no anti demonstrations prior to 2007. This year there were 232 sabotages against hunts, but it’s a very small group of radicals that get major media coverage.
- England: Lord Benjamin Mancroft reported that there 180 packs of foxhounds, 17 Harrier packs, 2 deer packs. The UK MFHA has increased training at all levels from Masters, hunt staff, full -time employees, and part-time staff and volunteers. They believe there are only about 500 hardcore antis in England, but they get far more media coverage for such a minority. Anti demonstrations are frequent at some hunts and nonexistent at others. Hunting is still going strong, keeping within the legal requirements put into effect when the ban was enacted.
Dr. Christin Petersen, the USA MFHA-supported researcher doing studies on leishmaniasis gave a report. She has expanded the study to the relationships of tick-related diseases and how tick control affects many diseases like leishmaniasis and Lyme Disease.
Dennis Foster gave a report on the International animal rights, AR, organizations, and tactics. He emphasized the way to combat the antis is not to try and defend hunting with hounds. We have to use examples of all the AR targets (medical research using animal, animal agriculture, horse & dog sports, etc. etc) to show the public that their bottom line is a pet less/meatless society and hunting is just one of their targets. We either hang together or hang alone.
During IUHH meetings, some went on to hunt with Middleburg, Blue Ridge, Orange County, and Piedmont. The next meeting will be in New Zealand in 2020.