Students enrolled in the vocational Animal Care program in England can earn a new government-approved specialized diploma in hunting, even though the sport was officially banned in 2004.
Animal activists have protested the controversial course that will have teens studying the skills of hunting as part of a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) program supported by the national fox hunting authority.
The course was developed by the Masters of the Foxhounds Association which “represents 176 packs of foxhounds that hunt in England and Wales and a further 10 in Scotland.”
The NVQ program will be taught by Haddon Training, whose tag line is, “A leading training provider specializing in work-based learning within the Equine, Animal Care and Saddlery Industries.”
Students will live at a hunting facility while they will learn about hunting with hounds, beagles and harriers. The course will also provide training on hunting safety, first aid, how to run a hunting kennel and keeping packs of hounds.
The goal is to find employment for students as “hunt workers” when they graduate.
Hunting foxes and deer with more than two hounds was made illegal through the Hunting Act of 2004, but loopholes in the law have kept the sport alive and thriving.
Steve Taylor, a spokesman for the League of Cruel Sports said, “It would be interesting to know if there’s a section on how to ‘accidentally hunt’, which is how many hunts are getting around the law and still killing foxes cruelly.”
Lesley Seed with the Masters of the Foxhounds Association said the program will give Britain the “huntsmen” of the future. She is disappointed with the quality of current kennel workers who routinely misrepresent their skills. She’s got her fingers crossed the new program will remedy the problem.
“This qualification is solid proof you have done it, you’ve worked towards it, and it will help with the job – though it’s not vital,” said Seed.
Tim Easy who works for Haddon Training said the NVQ program was a “fantastic development.”
“It will help to formalise the training needed to work with animals in a hunting context. But not only that, it will provide transferable skills for people wanting to work with animals in any other walk of life, whether it’s on a farm or at a zoo,” he said.
“Hunting has a future if it keeps abreast of 21st-century education and welfare standards.”
Photo from discoverymike via flickr