Friday 25 May 2018

Beware of brutal rural Rambos in the night wood

"Just keep pointing the finger at the fox, so we can indulge trigger-happy fingers and allow the hearts of darkness to continue killing under cover of night"

Fiona O'Connell

August is upon us - literally - for the weight of the year is now tipping towards darker days. And not just for us, because this month marks the advent of 'autumnal hunting' as fox hunters refer to setting their hounds on vixens and their cubs in preparation for the season ahead.

Though who knows what killed the three cubs that I came across recently, all lying on the side of the road within a mile of each other, distinctive black paws lifeless? Maybe they were hit by cars, despite their supposed cunning, or were scared out of a field by huge farm machinery, what with combine harvesters currently a common sight. Or perhaps they dashed out in a desperate attempt to escape a gun.

For shooting foxes is considered so unremarkable that a local once told me a story with an aside about a fox straying into a car park and a man responding by taking a shot at him.

The poor fox wasn't the only one who was blown away, for I was shocked by the casual contempt and impulse to annihilate a little animal.

Slapping the tag 'vermin' on these persecuted little predators can make a virtue out of the vilest acts of aggression towards them.

Like lamping - where rural Rambos use off-road vehicles and high-powered lights to locate wild animals at night, before shooting or setting their dogs on them. These brave boyos often wear camouflage when in combat with fierce rabbits and foxes. Though sometimes they turn out to be the babes in the wood.

Like a gang recently caught lamping deer.Apparently, they didn't realise that it was cruel to set dogs - especially bred to be big and vicious - on deer - just as they hadn't a clue that it was illegal to lamp deer in the first place.

Which must explain why they only received suspended sentences for causing unnecessary suffering on a dozen deer.

For lamping is - apparently - not about having a loutish laugh while terrorising defenceless creatures.

We're often told that these armed vigilantes against vermin only tear around rough terrain in their high-powered vehicles in an attempt to help vulnerable ground-resting birds, pheasants and grouse, as well as farm animals, by keeping down fox numbers.

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) is campaigning against a proposed ban restricting night-time hunting or shooting that has been recommended by the National Parks and Wildlife Services.

The ban would restrict attacks on wildlife between midnight and 6am from September to March.

Never mind the relentless human encroachment on wildlife habitat. Or intensive farming. Forget the epidemics of feral cats, or of mink escaped from fur farms that wreak havoc on wildlife and farm animals alike.

Just keep pointing the finger at the fox, so we can indulge trigger-happy fingers and allow the hearts of darkness to continue killing under cover of night.

Sunday Independent

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