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001. Assessment of Comparative Welfare

I read with interest the detailed submission to you on comparative welfare by Edmund Marriage, July 2002. He makes the case for hunting having a lesser welfare effect than stalking. In short, hunting is less cruel than stalking. I must not only concur, but have to raise additional points in favour of that assessment Professor Valerius GeistWorld authority on deer and a stalker, letter to Alun Michael 25th August 2002 (28).

The major conclusion reached at the Defra organised conference on 30th July 2008 titled Working in Partnership to Deliver an Effective Animal Welfare Strategy was that animal welfare issues should be resolved by evidence, and that a duty of care existed as a fundamental feature of the Animal Welfare Act, wherever unnecessary suffering could be prevented. This statement was clarified by Bill Swan (lead RSPCA advisor) in his presentation, when he stated that: the prevalence of poor welfare can be assessed by the observation of behaviour, and calculations of the duration and severity of that poor welfare, which is exactly what is produced by the British Wildlife Management Welfare Equation.

Hunting methods are on the basis of such calculations, at least ten times more humane than shooting on culling comparisons, before the figures are weighted for the duration of all suffering curtailed by hunting methods, principally the search and dispatch casualty services. But also the communal control of the species management activities.

British Wildlife Management

002. Evidence for the Acceptance of the Welfare Equation Solution to the on-going Hunting Act Disputes

When common sense and overwhelming public opinion believes something to be cruel, the onus should be not upon the defenders of animals to prove scientifically that this is the case. It should be upon the hunters or exploiters scientifically to prove otherwise - Dr Richard Ryder – RSPCA Spokesman and Council Member – The Times Wednesday 15th October 1997.

Professor Bateson had again assumed that the pain of the two animals is to be equated, and has not taken the obvious differences between them into account - This shows how dangerous it is to assume that because an argument is couched in the jargon of science it must be right. - The true position is that Professor Bateson made a fundamental error in his 'welfare equation' which is essential to his conclusions. Instead of being prepared to acknowledge this error he has now had to resort to the nonsensical justification to maintain his previous case for having deer hunting banned. If the welfare equation islegitimate it in fact works out strongly in favour of hunting as the best means of avoiding unnecessary suffering, the very opposite of what Professor Bateson claims. In short there are many experienced veterinary scientists and animal physiologists who are convinced that hunting causes less suffering to the deer herd than will result if hunting is banned - Charles Aldous QC - Submission on behalf of the Deer Hunts from information provided by British Wildlife Management (1998).

The major conclusion reached at the Defra organised conference on 30th July 2008 titled Working in Partnership to Deliver an Effective Animal Welfare Strategy was that animal welfare issues should be resolved by evidence, and that a duty of care existed as a fundamental feature of the Animal Welfare Act, wherever unnecessary suffering could be prevented. This statement was clarified by Bill Swan (lead RSPCA advisor) in his presentation, when he stated that: the prevalence of poor welfare can be assessed by the observation of behaviour, and calculations of the duration and severity of that poor welfare, which is exactly what is produced by the British Wildlife Management Welfare Equation.

Hunting with hounds is the natural and most humane way of controlling the population of all four quarry species, fox, deer, hare and mink, in the countrysideDr Lewis Thomas - Supported by over 520 members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons - Endorsed by 63% of rural vets in NOP Survey of 1000 RCVS members Sept. 2001 – Now the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management.

The welfare equation is the end product of both common sense and the animal welfare science over the past five years and credit should be given to all involved. Parliament must be informed on the facts on this priority matter in order that the current confrontation can be defused and the truth established – Edmund Marriage – Submission to Minister Alun Michael 12th July 2002. 

004. Red Deer Welfare Equation - Nov 2006

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Welfare Equation - Further factors and comments, which weight the above duration of suffering conclusion, further in favor of hunting methods.

Degree of suffering – A hunted deer which escapes, or is released, having been brought to bay, will quickly recover, and learn from the experience. A wounded deer may recover, but many will die long lingering deaths if they cannot be followed up, located and dispatched.

Ethics of Instantaneous Death – Hunting methods give the best prospect of providing an instantaneous death. Movement of deer, foxes and hares when shot at, will restrict accuracy.

Duration of all suffering curtailed by hunting methods

a. Casualty services - curtailing suffering of all casualty deer reported to, and or found by the hunting processes, including the wounded, injured, sick, and those going back.

b. Communal control of the management activities, wide reporting of problems, accurate deer counts, and common interest in deer welfare leading to large healthy visible herds.

c. Deer Management Group support and cooperation amongst virtually all land custodians – discouraging poaching, and unauthorised shooting or trophy hunting,

Importance of Selectivity – Careful selection before culling to standards not possible in stalking.

Realistic average wounding rates – The above figures and those for the fox below, are based on a best case scenario – not average wounding rates.

Length of time all body shot deer take to die – Mostly drowning in their own blood.

Welfare cost of stalking - Proven to be a noxious stimulant on deer health and welfare – for example reduced body size (Batchelor 1993).

Ethics of sporting chance – Healthy hunted deer have a 50% chance of evading the hounds. Some old stags have been hunted over three times.

Value of clean carcass – Not achieved with body shots from a distance – A key factor in the provision of a high quality meat. Hunting produces the highest quality glycogen depleted meat.

Summary - Primary factors in establishing humaneness, minimising cruelty and eliminating unnecessary suffering for deer, foxes and hares.

1. Ability to move, disperse, inspect and locate species.

2. Careful selection of the individual before culling where possible, or conditions where the species is tested for health and ability – Survival of the fittest.

3. Instantaneous death, or the best prospect of an instantaneous death – Close range shot to cranium (deer), or neck broken by leading hound (instinctive action to avoid fox’s sharp teeth).

4. No or low wounding rates.

5. Ability to quickly follow up a wounded or casualty animal for humane dispatch.

6. Immediate availability of efficient professional casualty or callout services.

These factors are key features within hunting normally absent in stalking or shooting.

003. Red Deer Welfare Equation

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Comparing suffering between hunting and stalking methods - The extent of the poor welfare can be multiplied by duration of poor welfare as an estimate of the severity of the problem - Broom and Johnson 1993 Stress and Animal Welfare London: Chapman & Hall

A. HUNTING - 100 deer moved by soft temperament scent hounds, and culled when at bay by a close range head shot, to give the best prospect of a selective instantaneous death.

Moving the deer involves low degree recoverable fatigue, described by some as recoverable stress or suffering (the alleged damage has not been defined or proved). Welfare is compromised only during the final stages of the hunt - Burns Inquiry Qualifications. Duration on a worst assessment of an average of 15 minutes before dispatch. (The Joint University Study concluded that it may be no more than 10 minutes, recently confirmed by further unpublished research) - Deer choose where to go, what to do, and when to stop. Over their lives, before they are selected for culling, they become familiar with hounds, and will suffer no more than recoverable fatigue or stress - Mentally and physically they are not damaged.

100 units x duration 1/4 hr = 25 hours of compromise of welfare - fatigue or stress.

There are ethical bonus's of an instantaneous death, a sporting chance and a clean quality carcass. We claim that such low degree recoverable fatigue or stress is necessary, in order to avoid the inevitable unnecessary suffering in rifle shooting, and to allow the curtailment of all degrees of natural and casualty suffering by the good selective management of hunting methods. Up to 50% of deer are selected by the local harbourer/deer manager because they are already suffering from sickness, casualty or genetic problems. The hunt's key role is to reduce this suffering. (Bateson, JU Study, ISHA & BWM). Others are harvested at maturity. Hounds ensure selectivity not achieved in rifle shooting. With wild red deer in the difficult terrain in the West Country, hounds are at least 5 x more efficient in following up specific casualties, than a single or pair of mute scent or blood trailing hounds. In practice, such suitable stalkers dogs with skilled handlers and access rights, rarely exist. In work scent hounds assist in the much wider range of essential roles of inspecting, dispersing, locating, and quickly bringing to bay a distressed animal. Action taken to remove or restrict hound use leads to an increase in all suffering, and in consequence causes unnecessary suffering.

B. STALKING - 100 deer body shot by rifle. Head or neck shots are not recommended. Human error leading to loss of wounded deer (5% Bateson Report - 15% BWM) - Two shots needed (11% Bateson Report) - No instantaneous death (70% JU Study - Thomas & Allen) -. Our wounding figures were only optimistic in as much as they represented a best case scenario – Bradshaw and Bateson in Animal Welfare.

100 x min of 5% best case, minimum lost wounded = 5 units of high degree non-recoverable suffering for the duration of 50 hrs = 250 hrs of suffering. 

Simple Solution - Hunting is more humane than stalking by a factor of at least 10 (25 hrs v 250 hrs) on culling comparisons, before the figures are weighted for the duration of all suffering curtailed by hunting methods, such the casualty services, and the communal control of the management activities, through Deer Management Group support and cooperation The following important factors are not included above. Degree of suffering, ethics of instantaneous death, importance of selectivity, realistic average wounding rates, ethics of sporting chance and clean carcasses, length of time all body shot deer take to die, and of the welfare cost of stalking, as a proven noxious stimulant on deer welfare (Batchelor 1993). 

005. Red Fox Welfare Equation - Leaflet - Nov 2006

Comparing suffering between hunting and shooting methods - The extent of the poor welfare can be multiplied by duration of poor welfare as an estimate of the severity of the problem - Broom and Johnson 1993 Cambridge Stress and Animal Welfare London: Chapman & Hall

A - HUNTING - 100 foxes located by scent and followed up by scent during what is termed as the search phase of the hunt, before the fox comes in sight of the foxhounds. Once in sight of the leading hound or hounds during this short pursuit phase (maximum 2 minutes) the fox is most often quickly dispatched by the leading hound, giving the best prospect of an instantaneous death. Even at this stage of the hunt a healthy fox has the ability to outmanoeuvre the foxhounds and escape. Welfare is compromised only during the final stages of the hunt (Burns Inquiry Qualifications). Duration on a worst assessment of an average of 2 minutes before dispatch - More stress is experienced by a fox when hunting for food than when being chasedKreeger - Arguably, the precise cause of death is irrelevant. What is more critical is how quickly insensibility and death result and how much more suffering, physical and mental, the fox experiences. Here again, there is lack of firm scientific evidence to help us. There seems little doubt, however, that in the vast majority of cases the time to insensibility and death is no more than a few seconds, bearing in mind the great disparity between the size and weight of the fox and houndsPara 6.48 - Conclusion of the Burns Inquiry.

Summary - 100 units x duration of 2 minutes = 200 minutes of fatigue, stress or suffering.

B. SHOOTING – 1. 100 stationary foxes shot by high powered rifle with the aid of a lamp at night in the general area of the chest - Human error leading to loss of wounded fox = best case scenario 10% - 2. 100 moving foxes shot by shotgun – Human error leading to loss of wounded fox = best case scenario 20%.

Summary -1. Rifles = 10 units x duration of an average best-case scenario of 5 hours = 3,000 minutes acute pain and suffering.2. Shotguns = 20 units x duration of an average best case scenario of 10 hours = 18,000 minutes of acute pain and suffering.

Simple Solution – Fox hunting is more humane than rifle shooting by a factor of at least 15, and more humane than shotgun use by a factor of at least 90. The use of rifles at night has to be considered in terms of wildlife disturbance, safety, necessity and the ability to follow up wounded foxes. The use of shotguns can only be considered humane where there is an opportunity for a second lethal shot, and the effective means of immediately following up a wounded fox with a foxhound, and the combined use of a terrier, if the wounded fox goes to ground. These conditions are met by well-regulated and organised gun packs, who rely on foxhounds and terriers to do their work humanely and efficiently. 

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