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

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 6 Teachers urgently needed for su...

English Secondary Teacher

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...

Year 3/4 Teacher - Immediate Start

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3/4 Teacher Needed in Flintshire ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits