Labour backs stag cruelty report

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Britain's embattled stag hunters are facing the likely closure of a second hunt, with the news that a Labour government would use the National Trust report on the suffering of deer in a promised review of its use of public land, writes Keith Nuthall.

Labour has promised that if it wins power on 1 May, it would stop any hunting with hounds - of deer, foxes and hares - on Forestry Commission and Ministry of Defence land.

It has also pledged to offer a free vote on whether hunting with hounds should be banned on any land in the UK.

A review on public land would close down the New Forest Buckhounds, which operates on Forestry Commisison land.

Labour's spokesman on blood sports Elliot Morley told The Independent on Sunday that the National Trust report by Patrick Bateson, Professor of animal behaviour at Cambridge University, "is unequivocal: stag hunting is cruel. Frankly, I would be am-azed if stag hunting were still con-tinuing by the time that Parliament considers a Bill on hunting".

Professor Bateson found that blood samples from hunted deer showed that they suffered from significantly greater stress and also from exhaustion, because chases often last three hours.

Ruthless predator, page 25