LETTER: Stag hunt services

LETTER:

Stag hunt services

Sir: Richard O Hall (letter, 14 October) chooses to ignore the role which the three stag hunts in the West Country play in conservation and welfare.

Injured or infirm deer are treated as a top priority and all three hunts operate a 24-hour, 365-day call-out service to deal with any deer that are in trouble. Rifles have always played a part in culling, but their use on open ground can involve a high-calibre bullet travelling many miles and/or ricocheting with fatal consequences. It has been proved many times that the most efficient way of dealing with an injured deer is to locate it with a few hounds and then dispatch it at close range.

The hinds are both hunted and stalked within the legal season when the calves are old enough to look after themselves. They are in only the very early stages of pregnancy.

Whether or not Sir Richard Acland would have acquiesced in the National Trust's ban (Doreen Cronin, letters, 14 October) is pure supposition and irrelevant. There is equally every reason to believe that he would have continued to be a staunch supporter of hunting. The fact remains that his wishes were that stag hunting should continue on his estates after his death. It was to this end that he gave the National Trust the responsibility to maintain them. For them to ignore his last wishes on the strength of extremely dubious research is bound to make possible future donors think twice before committing their families' heritage to the Trust's care.

PATRICK J ELLIS

Watchet, Somerset

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