Daily Telegraph 3.10.04 Hunting Husbandry (added 8.4.05)



Letters to the Editor
The Daily Telegraph
1 Canada Square
London E14 5DT

3rd October 2004

Dear Sir,

Hunting Husbandry

RSPCA comment (letters 2nd October) on weak hunting husbandry arguments, quoting a passage from Burns, ignores established MAAF research, quoted before the appointment of Minister Elliot Morley, that in the event of a ban, alternative means would be required to control 100,000 foxes. This fact is supported by my research submissions to Ministers, emphasizing the husbandry needs of all species that foxes eat or kill, but establishing that there are no satisfactory alternative means.

Some 150 farmers gun packs in British upland areas, by popular demand rely on experienced older foxhounds, skilled terrier work and shotguns, and are usually the only acceptable means of fox control. Operating outside the recognition of the MFHA, they cull more foxes than the recognized hunts. Scent hound and terrier use leaves no wounded or casualties. Recognized packs provide the unique selective husbandry system, giving the best prospect of an instantaneous death, and leaving a high percentage of well dispersed healthy mature survivors.

RSPCA promote shooting with rifle and shotgun. The ban will remove the only effective means of following up wounded, the crucial casualty search and dispatch functions of scent hounds, and the terrier work, which ensures fox cubs do not starve to death when parents are shot. These roles are encouraged in Scotland.

The RSPCA and Ministers have refused to accept the Burns cruelty conclusion, qualifications that a compromise of welfare was only found in the terminal stages of the hunt, and that the Burn Committee required further research, including confirmation of accurate wounding rates.

The incomplete Burns Inquiry Animal Welfare Contract 7 and Government Hearings can now be re-visited, with the benefit of subsequent realistic behavioural evidence, and accurate wounding rates from the Middle Way Group (foxes and hares) and Urquhart and McKendrick (red deer). This allows the measurements of comparative suffering between hunting and shooting to be properly verified, by the simple sums of the welfare equation, featured within Contact 7.

The resulting proof of least suffering demonstrates that hunting is more humane than shooting by a factor of at least 10 on culling comparisons, and by a factor of at least 100, when all the species management, or husbandry factors, are properly considered.

The ministers can no longer give diplomatic immunity to the shooting lobby, and should report the welfare equation evidence to Parliament and public as the truth. They should also explain the critical importance of husbandry as opposed to the neglect advocated by the RSPCA.

Yours sincerely,

Edmund Marriage - British Wildlife Management