So you like deer stalking, Cameron? Hunted animals feel no less pain than Larry, the Downing Street cat

The PM is in a unique position to demonstrate understanding of animals' intelligence, but he ignores this so he can treat other species as living targets

Share
Related Topics

It has been reported that the Prime Minister, who enjoys blasting pheasants out of the sky, has also become an expert deerstalker since being introduced to the sport as a young man.

Although he refrains from talking about it in public for obvious reasons – the Prime Minister has been hunting down and killing animals for more than 20 years. Apparently he is one of the few marksmen skilled enough to shoot two stags in one go.

The fact remains that hunting is cruel and causes animals unnecessary suffering. It's appalling that our country's leader indulges in killing for the sheer fun of it – a show of baseless, old-fashioned machismo better fitted to Mr Putin.

For animals such as deer, who live in close-knit herds, hunting can devastate entire communities. Young animals can starve when their mothers are killed, and hunting leaves wounded but unrecovered animals to die slowly and wretchedly from blood loss or infection. The animals whose lives are so callously snuffed out have precisely the same capacity to feel pain and to suffer as Larry, the Downing Street cat.

The Prime Minister is in a unique position to demonstrate his awareness of advances in our understanding of animals' intelligence, emotions, relationships with one another and capacity to suffer. But he chooses to ignore all these things and continues to treat other species as nothing more than living targets to be destroyed on a whim.

Cameron has called deer stalking “probably one of the most defendable” blood sports, a ludicrous statement to any compassionate person. A true sport is one in which all participants are willing. Hunting is just cruelty to animals, plain and simple. If he was shooting dogs and cats for fun, we wouldn't be calling it “sport”. We'd call it abuse, and that's exactly what it is when it happens to deer. 

Not only is it cruel but, contrary to the population control myth that hunters try to peddle, hunting actually creates conditions that favour accelerated reproduction. Statistics demonstrate that biological and environmental factors naturally self-limit growth. The size of deer populations is determined by the amounts of available food, not by the number of hunters. Hunting causes a temporary drop in deer populations, followed by an increase in the availability of food, which means that the numbers of deer will go up again.

It's been shown that in hunted deer populations, does are more likely to have twins rather than single fawns and are more likely to reproduce at a young age. With a surplus of food, the surviving deer are better nourished, which can lead to a higher reproductive rate and lower neonatal mortality.

Natural predators, who truly have no choice but to kill, help keep prey species strong by killing mainly sick and weak individuals. Human hunters, on the other hand, kill whichever animals they come across or, in many cases, whichever animals they think would look best mounted above the fireplace.

If Mr Cameron wants to enjoy the deer on the island of Jura, why not take up quietly watching their majestic, gentle-natured, harmless and environmentally sound way of life from afar? Why not shoot them with a camera instead of a gun?

When animal cruelty is portrayed by some as a 'sport', it debases society and perpetuates unacceptable animal cruelty. Blood sports have no place in an ethically developed society. That is why polls repeatedly show that the vast majority of Britons oppose such gratuitous violence. We expect our elected politicians to protect the vulnerable and helpless, not to destroy them – much less to derive pleasure from it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The traditional Boxing Day hunt in Lacock  

For foxes' sake: Don't let the bloody tradition of the Boxing Day hunt return

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all