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Foxhunting is indefensible

Columnist Kevin Myers clearly has no comprehension of the suffering endured by foxes when he remarks that "I would be lucky to die as swiftly as the fox that is caught by hounds" (Irish Independent, January 30).

The demise of foxes terrorised by Ireland's cruel foxhunters is far from swift. After being disturbed from their habitat, the animals are chased for as long as it takes to drain their energy and slow them down enough for the pack to pounce.

Hunters claim that the victim is killed by a quick nip to the back of the neck, but the gruesome killing actually involves the frenzied ripping of flesh and the chewing of entrails out onto blood-soaked grass.

Reports in hunting publications boast about the duration of the preceding chase, with one telling of a Galway fox pursued for one hour and 20 minutes and a Limerick fox for three hours and 10 minutes.

Hounds at another hunt "pushed a fox for 50 minutes in terrible driving rain before catching it", while a fox in Westmeath was forced to swim across the freezing water of a canal twice in a bid to escape.

Studies from America confirm that the physiological effects of such a gruelling fight for life include haemorrhage of the heart and lungs, congestion of the kidneys and a breakdown of muscle tissue, often followed by brain damage and death.

Kevin Myers, or anyone else who found themselves suffering this, would feel decidedly unlucky. As they would if they found themselves with a hunt terrier sinking its teeth into their body and tugging them out of a hiding hole in the ground -- as commonly occurs during foxhunts.

Kevin Myers acknowledges that badger baiters are "depraved, sick and disgusting perverts" and that hare coursers are "no less horrible", but even if he fails to recognise it, the foxhunters he defends are equally shameful and condemnable.

Philip Kiernan
Irish Council Against
Blood Sports
Mullingar, Co Westmeath

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