Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Irish Independent Columnist Criticizes Stag Hunting Ban

Big controversy churning in Ireland over an annual stag hunt.

Irish Independent columnist Kevin Myers is not happy that Ireland's Environment Minister John Gormley has not renewed the hunting license for the Ward Union Hunt Club. The license allows them to hold their annual stag hunt in Ireland.

Now, contrary to what many AREs {Animal Rights Enthusiasts} believe -- though I'm sure the minister does not share their delusion -- the Ward Union does not kill stags. It chases them, but that's it.

It doesn't tear them to pieces, in the stag-at-bay caricature that can be relied upon to bring tears to the sturdiest eyes. The hounds are always called off at the chase's conclusion.

But is even this not cruel on the stags?

Do they not get frightened?

Is this not bad for their lickle-ickle hearts?

Look. A stag in the wild, free of all human influence, lives a life of regular stress, watching for wolves, rutting with and fighting other stags.

It is built to undergo the hormonal surges of battle or of escape.

The unnatural condition for a stag is to know neither fight nor flight, fear nor foe.

Yet this is precisely the unnatural life we have created for it in predator-free Ireland.

The chase is as natural for a stag as the rut or the shag or the shit. That's it.

Moreover, the Ward Union is a truly -- but apolitically -- green organisation. Over 150 years old, it has raised and guarded its own 120-strong herd of pure Irish red deer.

It is from this herd that its quarry animal is chosen, and to which it is returned after the chase.

Without the hunt to subsidise the herd, the latter would not exist. No hunt, no herd. QED.

And more than that. The hunt provides an environmentally friendly method of disposing of animal cadavers: 4,500 head of livestock which have died of natural causes are consumed annually by the Ward Union hounds. These would otherwise have to be burnt

He goes on to add the following...

...the British hunt-ban has shown that unless law recognises the realities of rural life, it will just make an ass of itself.

There are now more hunts, and more foxes killed, after the British "ban" than there were before it.

...The Ward Union does not kill anything. In that, it doesn't "hunt" stags at all. Which might in law mean that it doesn't actually need a licence, and that it can chase its own stag without anyone's permission.

The pictures I've seen of this hunt are pretty disturbing. And, according to the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, the Department of Agriculture had been monitoring the Ward Union hunt over a seven year period back in the 90s. In May 1997 the report by Veterinary Inspector Kieran Kane Kane found that many aspects of the hunt were inhumane. His report was not released until 2003.

Read the entire Kane report on Ward Union or see the key points of the report.

Photo by icabs.

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