Huntsmen amazed by Trust claims that hounded deer suffer

Masters of staghounds are braced for bans which will hit their sport, writes Nicholas Schoon

As masters of stag hounds met last night to discuss the National Trust's shattering report on their sport, one said that his hunt might have to give up pursuing deer because of its conclusions.

Peter Barfoot, master of the New Forest Buckhounds, said: ''If this report is well founded and backed up then no one is going to knock it.

"Yes, we'd have to review what we're doing.''

There are four staghound packs in Britain, one in the New Forest hunting fallow deer and the remainder taking red deer in the West Country. Some, like the New Forest, hardly use any National Trust land while others like the Quantocks are heavily reliant on it.

Yesterday, the master of the Devon and Somerset Stag-hounds, Diana Scott, was in tears as she rang the British Field Sports Society to seek information on the report. She did not want to talk to the press.

The Trust's ruling council is today expected to agree not to grant any of its hunting licences when they come up for renewal later this month. The New Forest's licence has already just expired.

Some of the land involved had covenants or ''memoranda of wishes'' attached to it when it was donated to the Trust, in which the owners insist that staghunting continue in perpetuity.

However, the trust, the nation's wealthiest and best-supported conservation charity, has already squared Sir John Acland, son of Sir Richard Acland who gave a huge tract of Exmoor land with just such a wish attached.

Trust chairman Charles Nunneley said that Sir John had told him if his father had known about the suffering of the deer exposed by the scientists' report, he would never have made such a wish.

Janet George of the British Field Sports Society, which campaigns for huntsmen, shooters and fishermen, said: ''The report is seriously bad news - the degree of these findings has astonished us.''

The report's author, Professor Bateson, said comparisons should not be made between hunting red deer and foxes - but they will.

While it might be supposed that the fox also suffers enormous stress in the chase, they are naturally less sedentary animals than the deer, with more stamina and roam greater distances.

Furthermore, while only 5 per cent of shot red deer are left wounded rather than dead, the culling of foxes with guns probably causes proportionately higher suffering. They are smaller targets and shotguns are usually used, so a higher proportion of shot foxes are probably left suffering the agony of wounds.

There is no real dispute about the need to control red deer. They have no natural predators and would destroy their habitat if numbers were not kept down.

The Trust has been debating the cruelty involved in using hunting with hounds as a control for nearly 10 years without any decisive action - until yesterday. Its top management has been startled and persuaded by Professor Bateson's unequivocal report.

Will the ruling, 52-member council feel the same when it meets today? ''It'll be a bit of a disaster for us if it doesn't,'' said one Trust insider.

The fieldwork was done by biologist Elizabeth Bradshaw, who spent 18 months in West Somerset following the hunts and taking blood samples.

She and Professor Bateson paid tribute to the huntsmen for their full co-operation, but said that if they now continued it was "in the full knowledge that they are causing suffering".

Professor Bateson quoted one ardent, lifelong stag-hunting farmer from the area, who told the scientists: "If your report goes against us, perhaps we shouldn't be doing what we're doing."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power