Key Documents

'Least Suffering' Should Be for Life - ISAH Press Release (15.11.05)

The Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting Press Release

The Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting
Release - Immediate - 16th October 2003


'Least Suffering' Should Be for Life

ISAH has published its first, preliminary 2003 Review of Hunting Practice based on reports and inspections of individual hunts. The principles that govern the ISAH supervision of hunting are:

  • Humanity: 'least suffering'
  • Utility: effective management of the quarry species
  • Stewardship: sensitive management of the living environment

The principle of humanity requires the hunting communities to consider the lifetime welfare of all animals. ISAH believe that 'least suffering' should not be interpreted simply in regard to the method of killing the quarry species.

One item of evidence of humanity and utility is that 44% of all red deer culls were casualties of road accident or shot wounds.

As evidence of stewardship we record that 90% of hunts reporting to ISAH were actively engaged in conservation projects and one third had active links with other conservation bodies. However ISAH would wish to see further development of these projects and links with the many groups already engaged in conservation and wildlife management. With good will, the hunting communities have the potential to make an enormous contribution to the sensitive and effective management of the living countryside by virtue of their numbers, their widespread distribution and their commitment to the natural world.

We suggest that any legislation for the regulation of hunting should become part of a rational Bill for the humane management of all wildlife. Evidence acquired from this, the first preliminary ISAH review of hunting practice, suggests that a Bill which destroys the present and potential contribution of the hunting communities to the sustained stewardship of the living countryside is likely to do more harm than good to the very animals it seeks to protect.

Chairman: Sir Ronald Waterhouse GBE Company Secretary: David Manley

Registered Office: Commercial Chambers Commercial Road Hereford HR1 2BP

Registered in England No: 3901304


A Critical Look at Contract 7 of the Burns Inquiry


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A Critical Look at Contract 7 of the Burns Inquiry


In the years since Burns reported there has been much work carried out in this area.
Contract 7 researched Animal Welfare and Cruelty but left many questions unanswered. The full text of the Contract 7 Report may be seen

Below you will find:
- A Critical Look at Contract 7 of the Burns Inquiry
- Extract from the Contract 7 report that identify areas where subsequent research has taken place

A Critical Look at Contract 7 of the Burns Inquiry.

There was no Incontrovertible Evidence to Support a Ban on Deer Hunting - The central Animal Welfare (Cruelty) Research was Incomplete, and the Conclusion Statements were widely misrepresented by anti-hunt sources, including Ministers and MP's.

Lord Burns shares my disappointment at the misrepresentation of certain statements in the report which were taken out of context - Lord Soulsby in the House of Lords - March 12th 2001.

1. The Burns Inquiry Contract 7 dealt with the central issue of Animal Welfare (cruelty), and was conducted by Professor Patrick Bateson and Professor Roger Harris. Lord Burns reached the conclusion that hunting makes a significant contribution to the management of the deer, but was unable to reach a conclusion on the issue of cruelty for the simple reason, that the welfare equation evidence was not properly assessed. Attempts to produce welfare equations are fraught with difficulty - Executive Summary Contract 7. It is clear that it was considered by Bateson and Harris that Contract 7 could not be completed, as more work would be required.

Burns Conclusions Paragraph 6.38 - It is clear that more work would be required in order to provide further scientific evidence about the welfare of hunted deer and how hunting compares with stalking. Bateson and Harris indicate that this would be needed in the following areas:

  • The fate of deer that escape during the hunt
  • Further investigations of the state of the deer during hunting
  • The accuracy of stalker's shooting
  • The relative impacts of hunting and stalking in terms of selection of the deer to be culled and the importance of selective culling to the long term health of the herd.

2. Lord Whitty in his letter of 26th of February 2003 to Lord King claimed that the incontrovertible evidence to support the prohibition on deer hunting in the Hunting Bill, lay within Paragraph 6.39 the Burns Report, and the two statements below.

He referred to discussions at the Hearings of the Evidence at Portcullis House, where support was given to Professor Bateson's claim that deer suffer as a result of being chased.

He then returns to the Paragraph 6.39 text manipulating the content and stating that; it is always possible for a competent marksmen to stalk an animal and kill it quickly while causing it minimal suffering (if necessary using one or two dogs under exemption in paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 of the Bill). This is the conclusion of the Burns Report.

The reality of the situation is that the conclusions of Lord Burn's Inquiry did not provide the incontrovertible evidence claimed by Lord Whitty. He has misrepresented statements made in Lord Burn's Report.

Paragraph 6.39 according to Lord Whitty is quite clear:

Stalking if carried out to a high standard and with the availability of a dog or dogs to help find any wounded deer that escape, is in principle the better method of culling deer from an animal welfare perspective. In particular, it obviates the need to chase the deer in any way which occurs in hunting.

3. However, Paragraph 6.39 is qualified not only by Paragraph 6.38 by also by the following Paragraph 6.40:

Paragraph 6.40 - A great deal depends, however, on the skill and the care taken by the stalker. It is unfortunate that there is no reliable information on wounding rates, even in Scotland where stalking is carried out extensively. In the event of a ban on hunting, there is a risk that a greater number of deer than at present would be shot by less skilful shooters, in which case the wounding rates would increase. Consideration should be given to requiring all stalkers to prove their competence by demonstrating that they had undertaken appropriate training.

4. The Hearings on the Evidence at Portcullis House did discuss Professor Bateson's claim that deer are liable to suffer as result of being chased. Also discussed was the pain of wounding and other injuries. The more solid conclusion reached was that pain and prolonged pain from wounding, or other casualty injuries or suffering, was a worse category of suffering, than the stress imposed by hunting.

5. At this point it is worth while introducing the Paragraph 3.1 Contract 7 Goals

The objectives of the study set by the Committee of Inquiry were as follows:

  • to review the existing scientific evidence relating to the effect of hunting with dogs on the welfare of deer;
  • to review the existing scientific evidence relating to the ways in which the welfare of deer is affected by other methods of control or as part of their natural life cycle;
  • to summarise the main findings, distinguishing those areas about which there is general agreement from those which are disputed;
  • to summarise, in layman's language as far as possible, what conclusions can reliably be drawn about the welfare of deer during, or subsequent to, hunting with dogs, in comparison with the effect on their welfare of other methods of control;
  • to record any existing scientific evidence relating to the effect on the welfare of foxes, hares and mink of hunting with dogs, in comparison with other methods of control or as part of their natural life cycle;
  • to suggest what further research would need to be carried out to clarify areas of dispute and to remedy significant gaps in our understanding of these matters.

Comments from the following three specialists, whose evidence was presented in the British Wildlife Management Submission to Lord Burns, but who were not invited to give evidence at the Hearings on the Evidence, is extremely important in context of the Contract 7 goals.

It must be appreciated that the term stress is used in physiology in a different sense to that in lay usage. I believe that physiological stress is any stimulus which elicits a physiological adaptation or response to changes in environmental needs or demands, this includes changes due to episodic feeding or to episodic energy requirements including those of short term or long term exercise. These are situations that are perfectly normal, and would be unlikely to be harmful.

Professor Michael L.G. Gardiner - Letter 10th September 1999 - Understanding physiological stress.

His most mischievous act was the failure to differentiate between physiological and emotional stress and to equate one with the other, a most unacceptable and clever ruse, which took in the lay public very effectively. Physiological stress is surely beneficial to the organism.

Dr C.J. Mitchell - Letter 26th August 1999 - Understanding physiological stress.

How can Bateson, Gripper or anyone know that the hunted deer experience extreme suffering on the basis of a single blood sample taken after death and compared, in a number of hormone and other biochemical assay techniques, with similar isolated samples collected from culled, stalked or farmed deer ? They can't was the conclusion reached by the majority of the scientists who attended the Bateson review meeting in Cambridge in June 1997.

Professor W.R. Allen - Organiser of the First Cambridge meeting June 1997 - We quote the extract above from the response to criticism of hunting from a fellow member of the veterinary profession - Veterinary Times.

I find Professor Bateson's research on hunting was biased from the outset by faulty assumptions about red deer adaptations and behaviour. His research strategy could not lead to anything but questionable, ambiguous results. No damage to red deer or their populations has been demonstrated. The evaluation of suffering comparing hunting and shooting is narrow and excludes the effects of stalking, a known form of damaging harassment.

Professor Valerius Geist in his submission to the Burns Inquiry.

The four above comments assist in demonstrating that the suffering or stress in hunting claimed by Professor Bateson, was challenged right from the start by other specialists who considered that: a. such situations are perfectly normal, and would be unlikely to be harmful. b. physiological and emotional stress is beneficial to the organism, unless damage can be identified. c. cannot know that the hunted deer experience extreme suffering on the basis of a single blood sample. d. faulty assumptions about red deer adaptations and behaviour were made and the evaluation of suffering comparing hunting and shooting excludes the effects of stalking, a known form of damaging harassment.

In a letter to British Wildlife Management dated 11th Nov 1999, Professor Bateson qualified his National Trust brief;

It is wrong to suggest that deer management was part of my brief: It was not. That had been dealt with by the Savage report.

The Savage, Southampton and Porchester Reports were all highly relevant in demonstrating and supporting the central utility or wildlife management roles of the deer hunts in the West Country. Lord Burns also reached the conclusion that: hunting makes a significant contribution to the management of the deer.

The past research on deer hunting over many years, mainly instigated and paid for by the National Trust, which fully supports the deer hunt roles, represents the most solid scientific and practical endorsement, which for the sake of the deer, should not have been cast aside for animal rights and political reasons.

In the West Country most deer become familiar with hounds over their lives before they are hunted, and therefore only put under any real pressure at the end of the hunt - Ref.

Lord Whitty has in addition ignored the important statements made by Lord Soulsby, qualifying the Burns Report's conclusions.

A compromise of welfare was found only in the terminal stages of the hunt - Lord Soulsby in the House of Lords - March 12th 2001.

Lord Burns shares my disappointment at the misrepresentation of certain statements in the report which were taken out of context. At no point did the committee conclude, or even attempt to conclude, an assessment of cruelty. Yet many bodies have erroneously - I repeat erroneously - quoted the Burns Report, stating that it clearly demonstrated that the practice of hunting wild animals with dogs caused cruelty. The report did not state that. - Lord Soulsby in the House of Lords - March 12th 2001.

Our difficulty was that there was insufficient evidence about wounding rates - Lord Burns in the House of Lords - March 12th 2001.

5. Lord Whitty in his letter to Lord King also made following claim to support the prohibition of hunting deer:

What is clear is that the nature of deer - their size and their browsing habits in particular - is such that it is always possible for a competent marksmen to stalk an animal and kill it quickly while causing it minimal suffering (if necessary using one or two dogs under exemption in paragraph 1 of Schedule I to the Bill). This is the conclusion of the Burns Report.

6. Alun Michael in the Commons debate, made a statement supporting the utility argument for deer hunting in managing deer over what we now know are more than 830 individual land holdings in the wider area of Exmoor and on the Quantocks. A valid conclusion on cruelty in favour of deer hunting could have reached, if the welfare equation evidence and conclusion, available to Lord Burn's team and the research contractors, had been used. The two key duration parameters of an average maximum of 15 minutes suffering in hunting, and a best case scenario of 5% walking wounded in stalking, cannot be credibly challenged.

Within the executive summary of Contract 7, we find the following key statement: Any judgment on the preferred method must also allow for the effects of that judgment on the overall management of the whole deer population.

Once the degree of suffering and the many other related welfare benefits of hunting methods are factored into the equation the incontrovertible evidence rests in favour of deer hunting.


Contract 7 was not completed by the Burns Inquiry because important evidence on deer behaviour, stress and wounding rates was not properly considered, or even received by Professor Bateson and Professor Harris - Burns para. 6.38 - It is clear that more work would be required.

Lord Whitty has taken statements in Burns para. 6.39 out of context. He was wrong to describe such statements as incontrovertible evidence to support the prohibition of deer hunting.

A formal complaint was made to Alun Michael regarding the showing at the Hearings on the Evidence of a false and fabricated video, purporting to claim that soft temperament scent hounds attack deer.

He took no action on this matter, despite the fact that a version of the same video had been shown widely over several years, to Labour MP's and members of the public, who were therefore being deliberately misled by the Animal Rights organisations. I quote Burns Contract 7 para. 3.2: At the end, the hounds will surround the deer, but very rarely bite it, and the deer is killed with a shot gun or a pistol at close range.

Other Ministers have made no attempt to seek the truth on the crucial wildlife welfare and management issues and continued to misrepresent the Burns Inquiry Conclusions.

Research by Urqhart and McKendrick and others, now confirm that the higher wounding rates (Burns Contract 7 para 3.3 15% walking wounded) presented to Lord Burn's Inquiry by Edmund Marriage of British Wildlife Management, which were dismissed as unreliable, were in fact realistic and far more likely than the very low figures claimed.

The reality is that no research, organisation, or individual, has made a credible case against the deer hunting roles on the grounds of utility or cruelty, or effectively challenged the evidence presented with in the completed Welfare Equation.

Savage Report commissioned by the National Trust endorsed the crucial role of the hunt. The main text is attached.

What is clear from the crucial behavioural evidence is that suffering levels increase when the hunted animal is not allowed to follow the route of its knowledge and choice. In consequence the hunted animal should be allowed right of passage as was the case within in common law.

Current Situation - Comments on the further research required.

1. The fate of deer that escape during the hunt - There are no credible recorded problems.

2. Further investigations of the state of the deer during hunting - There are no credible recorded problems, beyond a tiredness factor lasting an average of 7 minutes in the terminal stages of the hunt. If the hunt is disrupted, and the deer cannot follow the route of its knowledge and choice, additional stress or suffering may be inflicted. Disrupting the hunt should therefore be made a criminal offence.


3. The accuracy of stalker's shooting - There are serious problems involving accuracy, achieving instantaneous death, and the ability of stalkers to follow up wounded and find casualties. These issues were deliberately covered up at the time by certain elements within the shooting lobby.


4. The relative impacts of hunting and stalking in terms of selection of the deer to be culled and the importance of selective culling to the long term health of the herd - Selectivity and the long term health of the herd has only ever been satisfactorily achieved by hunting methods.

Extracts from Burns Inquiry - Contract 7 - Animal Welfare/Cruelty

Full text

NB. Important points, which are now subject to more accurate analysis and conclusion are marked in bold print - Edmund Marriage November 30th 2004.


  • Attempts to produce welfare equations are fraught with difficulty.
  • Any judgment on the preferred method must also allow for the effects of that judgment on the overall management of the whole deer population.

3.2 The effect of hunting with dogs on the welfare of deer

  • It is widely agreed that they need to be culled in one way or another.
  • If killing of diseased and injured animals is included, hunting with hounds accounts for a quarter to one fifth of the total red deer cull.
  • At the end, the hounds will surround the deer, but very rarely bite it, and the deer is killed with a shot gun or a pistol at close range.
  • However, it is clear that hunting with hounds would not be tolerated in other areas of animal husbandry, if husbandry were the only issue. In practise, population management, social interests and economic issues may affect the making of decisions.

3.3 The effects of other causes of mortality on the welfare of deer

  • On the more critical issue of how many deer escaped with wounds, the records of the stalkers showed that none escaped wounded.
  • Similar surveys in other parts of the country gave a wounding rate of 2.4%.
  • If an unsupported estimate of 15% of the deer shot by stalkers wounded were correct, at least 50 deer with rifle shot wounds should be found on Exmoor each year.
  • Welfare problems arising from other causes such as road traffic accidents, entanglement in fence wire and natural causes cannot be easily assessed. However, most of these deaths do not involve intentional acts by humans and are therefore outside the moral equation that must be brought into play when hunting with dogs is compared with stalking.

3.4 Consensus

  • Many of the physiological characteristics of deer at the end of a hunt resemble those of a human or horse involved in a prolonged bout of continuous or intermittent intense exercise.
  • Most if not all of the scientists agree that deer are likely to suffer in the final stages of hunting.
  • Some suggest that rising effort and fear will be in the final 20 minutes.
  • Taken together with the physiological effects of hunting, it is clear that hunting with hounds would not be tolerated in other areas of animal husbandry, if considerations such as sporting interests and population management were ignored.

3.5 Dispute

  • The evidence that a tiny fraction of deer wounded by stalkers escape is disputed.

3.6 Comparisons between hunting with dogs and other methods of control

  • Attempts to produce welfare equations to compare the culling procedures are fraught with difficulty and usually depend on information that is not available.
  • However, the picture is less clear when the duration and qualitative aspects of the suffering are taken into account, as well as the location and dispatch of deer casualties.
  • In the event of a ban on stag-hunting, the fate of the red deer population in the South-west is uncertain. No scientific attempts have been made to assess the selectivity of either method in culling individual deer or the importance of such selectivity to the health of the deer herd over a long period of time. Furthermore, it is possible that, if a ban on hunting deer with hounds were implemented, the economic concerns of farmers would no longer be tempered by their sporting interests.
  • A fraction of the small proportion of deer that are wounded by stalkers escape and these deer may suffer for several days.

3.7 Effect on the welfare of foxes, hares and mink of hunting with dogs and other causes of mortality

  • It is not possible, however, to go beyond opinions held by the lay public at present.

3.8 Research needed to clarify areas of dispute

  • On the quality of stalkers' shooting, further research is needed on how consistent is the evidence for low rates of wounding by stalkers in different parts of the country as well as in those areas where hunting is practiced. How many escaping deer are wounded by stalkers in such a way that suffering occurs?
  • Studies could be undertaken to examine the selectivity which is practical with both hunting and stalking on Exmoor and the Quantock hills, and the importance of selective culling to the long-term health of the herd. Investigation is needed into the extent to which farmers and landowners may be encouraged to use humane and effective methods of deterring deer from taking their crops and damaging trees and hedges, as well as their tolerance of such damage with the present financial state of agriculture.
  • The welfare aspects of all methods of culling foxes, hare and mink need studies comparable to those already carried out on deer.


  • In some cases this may result in a lead over the hounds of several km and up to one hour. . . hunts may be more spasmodic with deer able to recover to a degree between individual chases.
  • fewer rivers provide less opportunity for deer to use watercourses for escape, respite or defence.
  • Deer escape from the hunt for a number of reasons including poor scenting, hiding successfully and by movement into sanctuaries where the Hunts are not permitted to follow. In addition, deer resort to a number of stratagems with the apparent aim of confusing the hounds.

Ballard asserts "There is no absolute proof that wounded foxes suffer" (11.9.05)

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The RSPCA and the Middle Way Group


A PDF of Ms. Ballard's letter to Lembit Opik may be downloaded HERE

Jackie Ballard responds to Lembit Opik enquiry about the consequences of the Hunting Act with regard increased shooting and wounding.In her response to Lembit Opik Ms Ballard implies:

  • that the Middle Way's research into wounding is flawed, despite its appearance in a peer reviewed scientific journal.


She states that:

"There is no absolute proof that wounded foxes suffer, yet it is a basic assumption of the Middle Way Group's position that they do. The RSPCA errs on the side of caution, and has an a priori assumption that long chases by a large pack of noisy predators, aggressive conflicts abd attack underground, and being bitten or torn to death arelikely to cause considerable suffering.

Animal Rights Organisation Targets Shooting (25.9.05)

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Animal Rights Group Targets Shooting

From The Ilkley Gazette and other papers 22.9.05

Call for ban

SIR, - Now that the 2005 shooting season is underway, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and other pro-shooting lobbyists are adopting a less than credible defensive posture -- pretending that killing millions of birds for sport during the coming winter is a wholesome and environmentally friendly activity.

. . . . thousands of tons of highly toxic lead shot are showered on to the countryside every year as the shooters take aim at their feathered targets.

There is nothing natural or environmentally-friendly about this activity. Itis where factory farming meets blood sports. Animal Aid is calling for a Dutch-style ban on the production of game birds to be shot for sport.

Andrew Tyler

Director - Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Tonbridge, Kent

Bateson's Second Welfare Equation -(7.3.06)

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Bateson and Bradshaw - The Welfare Equation
Read British Wildlife Management's Comments on this piece of work HERE

It is now widely accepted that hunting with hounds has a welfare cost.  The practicable alternative to hunting, namely stalking with high powered rifles, also has a welfare cost since not all deer are killed outright and some may escape wounded.  In assessing which culling method is more humane, it is necessary to take into account the additional numbers, of deer that would be shot if hunting were to stop altogether.  If hunting with hounds were to cease and the numbers of deer previously killed by the Hunts were instead killed with rifles (in order to maintain cull rates), under what conditions would the welfare benefits of reduced hunting be outweighed by the welfare costs of increased, shooting?  In this note we summarise the principal ways in which the question may be answered, extracting the arguments from a longer essay on welfare and conservation (Bradshaw and Bateson1999a).

When the overall welfare costs of culling before the end of hunting are the same as those afterwards, it is possible to derive a simple analytical equation {see the Box at the end of this document), the conclusion from which was originally given in the report to the National Trust (Bateson, 1997).   If all hunts resulting in a kill exceeded an acceptable welfare threshold and the welfare costs of hunting by hounds were the same as those of every gunshot wound.  Banning hunting by hounds would have a welfare benefit in all cases except those in which every stalker's shot, led to a wounding.  If wounding carries a higher welfare cost than hunting and the probability of wounding is estimated at 5%, the average welfare costs of wounding would have to be 20 times as bad as those of hunting by hounds for a ban on hunting with hounds to have no welfare benefit.  If, as seems likely, some deer escape from the hunts suffered a welfare cost, then the welfare cost of wounding would have to be correspondingly higher since the stalkers only need to shoot as many as the Hunts kill in order to maintain a stable population.

The advantage of the simple formulation used to derive these conclusions is that the numbers required to obtain an answer are already available and it is not necessary to calculate the units of welfare cost.  A wounded deer may have to suffer its state much longer than a deer that is being hunted by hounds.  It is certainly difficult to assert with any confidence just how much worse than hunting is a lingering death after the lower jaw of a deer has been shattered with a rifle bullet.  We have offered some estimates of the relative welfare costs obtained from the physiological measures of hunted deer and seriously wounded deer (Bradshaw and Bateson, 1999b,  Bateson, 1997).  This comparison suggested that the welfare costs of extended hunting and wounding are the same at the moment of assessment.  However, the time dimension is left out in such comparisons and must be considered.

If the time spent suffering by each individual deer is treated as a separate data point comparisons may then be made between the median number of suffering hours for hunted deer and stalked deer.  Clearly, the wounding rate of the stalkers would have to exceed 50% of the total shot for the median number of hours suffered to exceed zero, if we assume that a cleanly shot deer without any suffering and all those that are wounded, eventually die from their wounds.  If all deer that are hunted suffer somewhat, whether or not they escape. then the difference in suffering caused by stalking and bunting is obvious. The wounding rate by the stalkers would have to be far higher than any estimate that has been suggested so far for cessation of hunting to have no welfare benefit.
This approach bas been criticised on the intuitive grounds that many animals suffering for a
short time could be regarded as equivalent to a few animals suffering for a long time.  The quantification is difficult, however, since it does not follow that an animal that takes a long time to die from its wounds, has suffered in the same way throughout that period. Moreover, one animal suffering for 21 days from a shattered jaw before it died from starvation would distort the picture for the population as a whole, particularly if the great majority experienced no suffering at all when they were culled.  Unfortunately, we do not know with any degree of certainty the frequency of such occurrences.  Such evidence as is available suggests that severe wounding leading to protracted deaths are very infrequent.  Nor do we know the duration of suffering of any wounded deer.  The uncertainty of knowledge also applies to the hurting side of the equation.  One hunted animal that incurred severe muscle damage before escaping might experience a sharp reduction in its welfare for days and might eventually die.  So might an animal that was totally depleted of carbohydrate after being hunted all day in winter:  Any severely stressed animal might also have a suppression of its immune system, increasing its vulnerability to disease.  In the US study of White-tailed deer some animals died as much as 26 days after they were rocket netted and marked (Beringer, 1996).  Death might result from a multiple cascade of events following stress shock or over-heating.  Red deer may well overheat as a result of being chased.  Nobody knows how often, they die after escape from a hunt, but absence of evidence is not the same as evidence or absence.

Even if some guesses are made for the values of the missing data, a further difference between stalking and hunting must be taken into account.  Stalkers are advised to kill calves running with their mothers because of the danger that the calves will be alienated from the herd and die of starvation.  The staIker’s commonly accept this advice.  The Hunts rarely kill calves accompanying hinds. Some estimate of the differences in suffering involved here ought to be included, though the guess-work here is as great as in all other aspects of the general approach.
Faced with the difficulty of obtaining reliable empirical evidence, judgements about the welfare balance arrived at on the basis of the total numbers of suffering hours are liable to be made on the basis of a few anecdotes and are bound to be extremely unreliable.  One  animal wounded in the jaw and taking 21 days to die swings the conclusion massively in one direction. Two animals taking the same amount of time to die from the ill effects of hunting swings it in the opposite direction.  The exercise seems pointless.

If the simple welfare equation which we originally proposed is not used, precision may never be given to calculations of the frequency and duration of welfare costs arising from the various methods of culling.  If so, a decision to ban hunting hinges on a qualitative assessment that, leaving aside a few rogue cases, the welfare costs of hunting are greater
than those of stalking.  Alternatively, it hinges on a straight moral judgement.  It is relevant
in this context that the central cost of cruelty in much of the legislation concerning the welfare of domestic and wild animals rests on the notion of humans causing unnecessary  suffering, and further, that the regulations governing the treatment of domestic animals stipulate that animals should not be subjected to “any avoidable suffering” (Radford, 1996).

If it is widely accepted that hunting with hounds inevitably causes suffering, as now seems to be the case,  then anybody who hunts does so in the knowledge that  they cause suffering.  By contrast. a stalker shoots an animal in the expectation that death will be instantaneous.  If the animal is wounded by a shot, that is a mistake; it was never the: stalker's intention to wound.  This is perhaps the most marked moral distinction that may be made between the two methods of culling.  The difference is accentuated because hunting with hounds is regarded as better sport when the chase is long, whereas stalkers will strive to improve their technique in order to minimise the risk of wounding.  The suffering of hunted deer is in the context of culling both unnecessary and avoidable, given that a more efficient culling methods exist.

This last point may be more compelling to independent people than any further attempt to formalise the welfare equation. However, the central issues in the stag-hunting debate that relate to animal welfare and conservation remain to be addressed.  The preceding discussion was based on the assumption that the majority of culling will be carried out by competent marksmen using high velocity rifles.  What happens if an increase in shooting deer,  resulting from a cessation of hunting with hounds, entailed an increase in the use of shotguns, or greater activity on the part of incompetent marksmen?  In general, these are problems that need to be addressed both by changes in the legislation governing the type of weapon used to shoot, red deer (The Deer Act 1991) and the requirements, placed upon
those who carry out the shooting (The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1991).  A system of issuing tags for carcasses. such as already used in France and, at the time of writing is proposed for Scotland. would inhibit the activities of illegal poachers, and serve to regulate the numbers of animals culled each year.  If crop damage is one of the main concerns then,  compensation schemes are required.  Such changes in legislation have long term implications for improving welfare, but will not prevent short term conservation problems relating to local populations.


Bateson, P. (1997) The behavioural and physiological effects of culling red deer. London:
The National Trust.
Beringer J., Hansen, L.P., Wilding, W.,  Fischer. J. & Sheriff,  S.L (1996)  Factors
affecting capture myopathy in white-tailed deer.  Journal of Wildlife Management,  60. 373-380.
Bradshaw, E. L. & Bateson. P. (l999a), Animal welfare and wildlife conservation. In Behaviour and Conservation, ed.,  L. M. GoslIng and W. ], Sutherland, . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bradshaw E. L. & Bateson. P. (l999b) Welfare Implications of culIing red deer (Cervus elaphus), Animal Welfare, submitted.
Radford. M. (1996) Partial protection: animal welfare and the law.  In Animal rights; the changing debate., ed., R. Garner pp. 67-91. Basingstoke:MacMillan Press.

A simple analytical equation.

The annual welfare costs of culling red deer before a cessation on hunting with hounds may be formalised as follows:

Tb = Wh.Ph.Nh + Ws.Pb.Ns
Tb = total annual welfare cost before cessation.
Wh = average welfare cost to chose deer that suffer unacceptable welfare cost when hunted with hounds
Ph = probability of hunting leading to unacceptable welfare cost
Nh = total number of deer killed per year with hounds
Ws = average welfare cost to each wounded animal.
Pb = probability of being wounded by stalking.
Ns = total; number of deer shot per year

Ta = Ws.Pb (Nh+Ns) where:
Ta = total annual welfare cost after cessation.
Pa =.probability of being wounded by shooting.

In this simple case, it is assumed that no deer escaping from a hunt suffers a welfare
cost and every deer that is wounded by shooting. eventually dies from its wounds.
When the total culling rate is constant, cessation of hunting by hounds, has no effect on
the total welfare cost at the point f indifference..(i.e. Tb = Ta).

Wh.Ph.Nh + Ws.Pb.Ns  = Ws.Pb. (Nh = Ns).
Dividing through by Ws.Pa.
Wh.Ph.Nh/Ws.Pa + Pb.Ns/Pa = Nh + Ns

If the proportion wounded by stalking is unchanged by cessation of hunting, then let:

Pb + Pa +Ps

This then simplifies the equation:
Wh.Ph.Nh/Ws.Ps = Nh
Dividing through by Nh and rearranging the equation:
Ps/Ph = Wh/Ws

This is at the point of indifference where no change in deer welfare occurs after a hunting with hounds ban.   If every hunt that leads to a kill is deemed to involve a welfare cost then a cessation of hunting with hounds would be beneficial when:

Ps < Wh/Ws

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