Letter: Why we hunt

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The Independent Culture
Sir: More letters on the cruelty of fox-hunting (17 November). Most people accept that animals must die to preserve our environment, to provide us with food and to support our pleasures. Many keep meat-eating cats and dogs as pets. Other animals must die to feed these pleasure-providing pets. Pests such as rats, pigeons and foxes must be regulated.

I take great pleasure in hunting. I enjoy watching the hounds diving into a covert in search of quarry. I love to go barrelling across the countryside behind them when they are in pursuit.

I don't enjoy the kill per se, but I do enjoy watching the hounds having a great time feeding on the carcase, in much the same way that I get second- hand enjoyment from watching my dog enjoy the lamb bone after Sunday lunch. I feel no guilt in this. The fox leads a good natural life. If killed by hounds, it has a sure, quick death.

The difference between me as a fox-hunter and the majority of the population is that I am close to the reality of the death that supports my pleasure. I have difficulty in accepting an argument that says the further away the actuality of a death is from the point of consumption of pleasure or food, the morality of the consumer is improved.

Animal welfare is about the avoidance of suffering during life and the maintenance of a healthy species diversity and balance in these islands. If anything, hunting helps to prevent old foxes from suffering a lingering death in old age. The proper regulation of this predator species with no enemies apart from man helps to conserve species diversity and balance.

We may one day enter a Nirvana where there are no risks or threats and no death. I am not at all sure that I want to be there.

GEOFF STOVOLD

Blackham, East Sussex

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