Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Leave the foxes and stags alone

The array of colourful hunting scenes in the newspapers over Christmas gave the impression that live animal baiting (fox and stag hunting) is a harmless, life-enhancing activity, with everyone involved having a lovely time in a festive wonderland atmosphere.

But these seasonal pictures are utterly misleading in that they fail to even hint at the cruelty to dumb animals that is an integral part of hunting.

These ‘happy images’ projected by those scenes depicted in the newspapers could be replicated in drag hunting: the dressing up in traditional hunt costumes, the horse-riding, the creation of rustic country village scenes of the kind we see on Christmas cards, and the enjoyment of good clean country

air on a crisp winter’s morning.

You would have the laughter, the thrill of the chase (albeit with an imaginary quarry), similar terrain over which to ride or follow the horses and hounds, and not forgetting the celebrations in the pubs or hotels afterwards.

A drag can be anything but boring. The only element associated with fox or stag hunting missing from it is the hounding to death, injury, or exhaustion of a fox or the terrorising of a semi-domesticated farmed deer. We hear often from the field sports lobby that hunting is essential to the wellbeing of our bloodstock industry and equestrianism in particular.

But can a part of our national economy really be dependant on the legal right to terrorise and torment a wild animal for fun?

JOHN FITZGERALD

Callan, Kilkenny

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