Fox Hunting, pursuit of a fox, for the sake of sport, by men and women on horseback following hounds. The fox, as a prey in the sport of hunting, was mentioned in accounts from the time of Edward II, king of England, but it was then considered inferior to the stag. It was not until the decline of falconry in the 17th century that the first fox hunts, consisting of organized groups of hunters and their servants and hounds, were established in England.
In Britain, fox hunting was a popular pastime throughout the 20th century. However, the sport was also threatened by animal rights advocates who tried to sabotage the hunts and by persistent attempts to have it prevented by law. In February 2002 the Scottish Parliament banned hunting foxes with dogs in Scotland, and in late 2004 the British Parliament at Westminster also enacted a ban in England and Wales.
Fox Hunting pictures: Members of an English fox hunt cross a river. A hunt can last from 20 minutes to more than 2 hours.
In North America, the governor of Virginia established a fox-hunting pack on his estate in 1742, the earliest for which details are known. Other hunts were later established, including those in Philadelphia and Hempstead, Long Island, to which George Washington was a subscriber. The American Revolution, however, put an end to those early hunts. The oldest established hunt on the continent with a continuous history is the Montréal Hunt in Canada, dating from 1826. Considerable popular opposition to the pastime exists among members of humane societies and their sympathizers.