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Fox hunting 'counterproductive' in tackling tapeworm
Environment

Fox hunting 'counterproductive' in tackling tapeworm

by ADW 12.01.2018 From our online archive
Luxembourg's state secretary, referring to extensive study results, says fox hunting can actually increase tapeworm infection
Most foxes would agree: Intensive hunting not as beneficial as expected (Shutterstock)

Ever since a fox-hunting ban was introduced in Luxembourg in 2015, the subject of tapeworm has been a topic of debate.

Hunters repeatedly used the rare but extremely dangerous worm infestation as an argument for the reintroduction of fox hunting.

In a parliamentary question, MP Martine Hansen (CSV) requested the results of a three-year study carried out by the city of Nancy in France.

The study concluded that the systematic shooting of around 1,000 foxes after three years actually resulted in an increase in population compared with a non-hunted area.

In addition, the infection rate of foxes with tapeworm increased from 40% to 75%.

As older foxes are extensively shot and killed, younger ones move into the area. For them, the tapeworm infection rate is significantly higher, as they are less resistant.

Camille Gira, state secretary, said the findings of the Nancy study were clear.

He said intensive hunting over three years failed to produce the desired effect and even led to a higher infection rate in foxes.

"Clearly," he added, "fox hunting was actually counterproductive."

In his reply in parliament, Gira also addressed the total population of foxes in Luxembourg.

He said the number of animals was now probably higher than if they had been exposed to natural predators or diseases.

Statistics show, however, that the fox population was at its highest in the 1980s and 1990s, when hunting was still allowed.

Even at that time, there were no major problems with the animals, including tapeworm infection, despite high population, Gira said.

The main author the Nancy study, Frank Boué, will present the results in Luxembourg at a conference on 29 January at the Museum of Natural History in Luxembourg.