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Letter to the Blackmore Vale Magazine (added 25.3.05)

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The Hunting Act will promote cruelty and prevent kindness

The implementation of the Hunting Act will promote cruelty and prevent kindness to the deer, fox, and hare, which is not what the Government intended. The RSPCA supported hunting for 150 years until 1978, because they considered shooting a less humane alternative. No reasoned argument backed by research has been presented to justify this change of policy.

In The Daily Telegraph on Thursday 18th November 2004, Tony Blair, speaking earlier at a press conference with the President at Lancaster House, insisted he had not wanted a total ban. The focus would now turn to arguments over the legality of the ban, he said:

For many people in the country, they would like to have seen a situation in which we dealt with the arguments as to cruelty, whilst at the same time understanding the feelings of those who regard this as integral to their way of life.

British Wildlife Management has presented successive Ministers, Lord Burns, and the Charity Commissioners, with a detailed scientific and common sense account on the arguments as to cruelty, within comparative assessments of suffering between hunting and shooting methods. This demonstrates that both activities are essential and complementary, and that they should never have been promoted independently, or considered distinctly separate, within wildlife welfare and management best practices.

The animal welfare science proves that hunting methods are more humane than shooting by a factor of at least 10 on culling comparisons, and by at least 100, when all the species management factors are properly considered. Recent quality research on deer and fox wounding, and suffering in hunting, totally supports this conclusion.

Professor Patrick Bateson for the National Trust, and Lord Burns within Contract 7 of his Inquiry, sought the resolution of the issue of comparative suffering between hunting and shooting. Efforts to establish the truth and complete the incomplete Contract 7, were overturned by deceit, misinformation, and the diplomatic immunity given to the shooting lobby by the Government. This ensured that the issue of comparative suffering did not stop the political decision to ban hunting.

In consequence, the Commons majority and animal rights interests stand accused of making false accusations against a rural minority, on which many of them raise large sums of money from the public by deceit. A fraudulent activity. There are many serious linked problems, which have not been properly addressed during the Governments consultations, because Labour have avoided evidence based decisions, which were in conflict with the beliefs and emotions of their backbenchers, brainwashed by these animal rights interests.

In our upland areas, efficient fox control using foxhounds, terriers and shotguns will stop, with devastating impacts on ground nesting birds. Lamb losses maintained by hunting at around 2%, will spiral to uneconomic levels destroying livelihoods and upland management skills. This will result in massive compensation claims against the Forestry Commission, funded by the taxpayer, and other organisations, for harbouring vermin, prohibited under the law.

Deer management in the South West represents the finest example of species management on the planet, with three packs of red deer scent hounds contributing £9.5 million to the rural economy each year. The future of the herds will now be beyond the control of the rural communities, 820 land custodians, and their very successful Deer Management Groups. A commercial free for all, dominated by unregulatable stalkers, with no track record in managing deer, will ensure that deer suffering increases, and deer numbers decline significantly.

It is crucial to realize that Labour's Elliot Morley, John Rolls of the RSPCA, and others, in promoting wildlife protection policies, have put in place a classic Stalinist divide and rule strategy: 1. Isolate the small number of reviled hunters. 2. Placate the shooters, especially if they help get rid of the hunters. 3. When hunting has gone, then take on the shooters, as they will then be more vulnerable and have more to answer for. Wounding deals - not to raise the issue of wounding in any argument for hunting or against shooting - have been put in place for different reasons, on all sides of the debate. The truth and the best interests of our precious wildlife have disappeared into a catalogue of deceit.

Douglas Batchelor, LACS and Chairman of the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals wrote to me saying: I am sure you will agree that people who hunt and shoot mostly because they enjoy it. Our case is quite simply that they should not enjoy it. In much the same way as while paedophiles may feel that they enjoy abusing children and are therefore justified, a civilised society condemns their pleasures and regards them as socially unacceptable in what is now a more civilised society. No amount of argument that it is "well done" addresses the point that it should not be done at all. Through mismanagement and neglect at the LACS Dulverton red deer sanctuary, some 80% of the deer in the area have endemic TB, requiring a massive cull to remove the reservoir of infection. We are told the next worst world case is 20%.

The starting point in this debate should be the realisation that the good management of the populations of foxes, hares and deer, prevent individual species from achieving pest status or spreading disease. Bad management, or the neglect of protection, leads to the highest levels of suffering. In reality, we have an equal duty of care to domesticated and to our wild animals.

Government should accept, and not ignore the fact, that the scent hound, in locating the specific quarry, conducts a long search phase, which is of little consequence to the wild animal, and a very short pursuit phase. This procedure provides the best prospect of an instantaneous death, the least disturbance to the animals natural environment, and the ability to cull animals out of site of other animals; primary internationally agreed welfare requirements.

There are two choices - a. The well regulated selective management and culling of the fox, hare and deer species, making full use of the available skills and utilizing scent hounds, sight hounds and terriers - b. The unregulatable harassment and indiscriminate slaughter of foxes, hares and deer by rifle and shotgun, without the full assistance of the well supervised scent hounds or terriers to follow up wounded and find casualties.

The overriding principle of the unwritten British Constitution is in achieving a balance between the power of the Crown, the Commons and the Lords. The 1911 Act brought in by Liberal Asquith, broke this triumvirate constitutional principle, by giving sufficient powers to the Commons to abolish the Lords, if they so wished. Labour's undemocratic abuse of power, in removing many constitutional checks and balances, including evidence based, reasoned debate, coupled with the use of the second 1949 Parliament Act to bring in a hunting ban, will justify more than civil disobedience, if the Hunting Act is enforced.

It is now crucial that the enactment of the Hunting Act is delayed, an issue the Government supports, and that an official inquiry be held, in order to unscramble the corruption involved and establish the truth. These three Acts should be repealed, and good government restored.

Edmund Marriage - British Wildlife Management

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