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Time to take the lead from other UK countries and outlaw the shameful ritual of fox hunting

letter of the day: cruel sports

This is a month commonly associated with holidays and late summer festivities. But it's also the month when the cub hunting season reaches a peak.

Fox hunts in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland have been training novice hounds how to kill foxes. This they achieve by bringing them to secluded venues in the countryside in the early hours of the morning. Hunters, some on foot and some on horseback, surround a fox covert known to contain a litter of cubs. When all potential escape routes have been blocked, the young hounds are released into the covert to seek out and kill the cubs.

The startled little creatures are taken unaware and seek desperately to evade the baying pack. Any that seem close to slipping through the circle of hunters are beaten back with whips, or long sticks.

Once caught above ground, each cub has the skin ripped from its bones. No mercy is shown. When all cubs have been eviscerated, the hunt concludes. The dawn pastoral scene reverts to silence, apart from birdsong and the footfalls of departing hunters and horses on dewy ground.

This gruesome ritual is replicated hundreds of times every year, with quiet patches of the rural landscape transformed into blood-drenched arenas. In cub hunting, more commonly referred to as "cubbing" (or "autumn hunting", in polite equestrian circles), even the supposed "sporting chance" accorded to foxes in the winter season is denied to the cubs.

And fox cubs aren't the only victims. Any hound that fails to show a killer instinct is culled from the pack, so it can't infect the others with the canine equivalent of cowardice.

Cub hunting represents the sickening and shameful side of an already cruel so-called "sport". We should follow the example of England, Scotland and Wales and ban it forever from the Irish countryside - north and south.


Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports

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