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Letter to the Western Morning News (added 25.3.05)

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BRITISH WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT - Letter - 4/2/2003
So shameful to dress politics as principles

John Phelps WMN, January 31) hopes to secure a ban on hunting with dogs on the grounds that to chase a wild animal is an act of cruelty because it is both intentional and unnecessary and to deliberately chase, harry and harm any animal is immoral and manifestly cruel.

To protectionists, who do not properly consider the many different means by which wild animals inevitably suffer and die, this would seem to be a compelling argument.

For the hunting debate to have any moral value, however, legislation must improve the welfare of our precious wildlife.

It would be an act of wilful negligence for Ministers, MPs and welfare organisations if they do not properly consider both the comparative welfare of culling methods, and the impact of such legislation on species management systems.

However, the Government has already decided in this debate that wildlife can be killed by promoting poisons, gas, traps, cages, and giving repeated assurances that shooting and fishing will not be restricted or regulated. It should be obvious that, where it is decided that animals have to be killed, they should be given the best prospect of an instantaneous death.

Further important moral requirements are for target animals to be killed out of sight of other animals, and for the least disturbance to the animal's natural environment.

It is only within the processes of search, location, flushing and pursuit, using soft or hard temperament scent hounds, sight hounds or terriers, that the above requirements can be best satisfied.

It is a matter of record that the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals, which includes the League Against Cruel Sports, were censured in the House of Lords in March 2001 by clarifications of the Burns Report by Lord Soulsby.

He stated: "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.

The report uses the phrase -"compromise of welfare" - deliberately:

"A compromise of animal welfare was found only in the terminal stages of the hunt, where we mentioned that welfare was seriously compromised and fell short of best welfare practice.

"There is a major concern that, were there to be a ban on hunting, there is strong evidence that the alternative of control in many cases are certainly less welfare positive than hunting."

Can there be a lower form of life, than when people in authority dress up politics and prejudice as principles, and place this craven image above the interests of out precious red deer, roe deer, foxes and hares?

Edmund Marriage

British Wildlife Management

 
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