Let's end sickening bloodlust for so-called furry 'friends'
'Tis the season to be jolly, but not for the creatures of field and forest. They must endure the merciless assault on our wildlife heritage that sadly accompanies the countdown to Christmas.
Since the beginning of this month, across Ireland, hares have been forced to perform at coursing events in the most atrocious weather conditions.
Fans of the bloodsport laughed, cheered or marked their cards as the gentle creatures were hounded in torrential rain, on water-logged fields, or across venues swept by storm-force winds - as if being set up as live bait for hyped-up dogs to be chased (and possibly mauled) wasn't challenging enough for this iconic creature that is hailed by nature lovers as a living link with the Ice Age.
The wily fox is roused from his winter routine by packs of snarling hounds and their mounted human overlords. Already under pressure from a severe climatic onslaught, he has to run for his life for the edification of people who equate terrorising animals with "sport". He is hounded until his lungs give out and exhaustion delivers him to the pack. If he manages to escape underground, the hunt terrier men retrieve him by dropping dogs down into his refuge to drag him to the surface. Fox and dog alike suffer in the resulting melee as they sink their teeth into each other.
The pheasant also is subjected to relentless attack in the run-up to Yuletide. As he rises in glory from a tree branch or traverses a landscape, a shot rings out, turning his multi-coloured crest into a lead-riddled carcass.
Driven shoots are the worst. The gun men walk shoulder to shoulder, blasting away at birds so tame that they waddle up innocently to their killers. Their trust dooms them and the field of one-sided battle is quickly littered with bleeding clumps of feathers.
Instead of stepping up this all-out assault on wildlife, wouldn't it be more in keeping with the alleged spirit of peace and goodwill to grant our furry and feathered friends a Yuletide amnesty - a break from the targeting of these creatures without which the countryside would be a dull and barren place for all of us?
Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports