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Hunters in denial over cruelty

Listening to the RTE 'Frontline' debate on hunting (Monday, March 22), I was incredulous to hear one lifelong foxhunter claim that he could, "with hand on heart", say that he didn't believe hunted foxes were frightened by the experience.

An apologist for stag hunting on the same programme claimed that the deer were well cared for and didn't suffer unduly as a result of this "rural pastime".

I know that the bloodsport fraternity is getting pretty desperate in the face of an upcoming government ban on carted stag hunting, but this claim makes one wonder if hunters are living in a parallel universe.

Then again, maybe I'm being unfair to them. Maybe the fox has no problem with having a pack of hounds chase him for miles across country prior to having the skin ripped off its bones for fun. And maybe the farmed stags used in carted hunts are not frightened by the experience of being hounded for between two and five hours, by having to negotiate briars and brambles and barb-wire fencing in an attempt to elude their pursuers.

Appearances, as we all know, can be deceptive, so maybe the fox enjoys the whole "field sport" and the stag is not really hurting, or assailed by fear, or traumatised when it drops to the ground from exhaustion, oozing blood from its numerous cuts and wounds; with its tongue hanging out as it wheezes and gasps for breath. or when the "caring" sportsmen wrestle and manhandle it back into captivity.

Maybe, but I doubt it, and I prefer to give the benefit of what I believe is that eminently reasonable doubt to the hunted stags and foxes.

John Fitzgerald
Co Kilkenny

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