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Letter: The deerhunters

Sir: Over the past eighteen months the National Trust has maintained a ban on staghunting on its land, based on the evidence of the Bateson report.

The release of the main findings of the Joint Universities Study on Deer Hunting gives the trust clear and unequivocal reasons to believe the Bateson report is no longer a sound basis for policy. This view is further supported by the unanimous joint statement issued following the Cambridge meeting of 13 September, chaired by Professor Bateson, at which he and other scientists reviewed the JUS findings.

The Cambridge statement identified a role "for combining hunting with hounds and stalking in the management and conservation of deer where staghunting is currently practised".

Both the Trust and the hunts have consistently stated throughout the debate on this issue that the welfare of the West Country's unique deer herds is their main concern. The new evidence must cause any reasonable person to review how this aim can best be achieved. We urge the Council of the National Trust, at Thursday's meeting, to take the opportunity to work with the people of Exmoor and the Quantocks to achieve our joint aim of a healthy and visible herd.


Chairman, Devon and Somerset Staghounds


Chairman, Quantock Staghounds


Chairman, Tiverton Staghounds

Taunton, Somerset