Letter: Haunted by the deer hunters

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YOUR ARTICLE "National Trust faces split over ban on stag-hunting" (27 September) comments on two reports on the effect of hunting deer with hounds. Both concluded that deer do suffer stress under these conditions, some severely. Any humane individual would surely conclude that hunting in this way should be totally banned, especially as in every other part of England and Scotland necessary management is undertaken by marksmen.

The hunts have always maintained that they hunt only over land where they are welcomed by the landowner. But when, as in this case, a major landowner has provided a reason why they are no longer welcome, they attempt an onslaught on the Trust's AGM, having already failed to overturn the ban through the courts and the Charity Commissioners.

To suggest that a hunt could be curtailed in length to reduce the chance of suffering to the animal pursued simply shows it up for what it really is. Only one in three deer is killed at the moment - so it would clearly be undertaken just for fun. Currently, approximately 150 deer are killed by the three staghound packs here annually, compared with 1,000 taken by the rifle.

To liken the chase, as Roger Harris appears to, to stresses encountered by people in sports is another nonsense. No one undertakes a marathon race or a bout of boxing without training. And they do it through choice.

On the subject of "disturbance", many of us have asked why the hunts should ever have been privileged, against the Trust's by-laws, through licensing to cause injury, annoyance or disturbance (for instance, to ground-nesting birds) when the rest of us could have a fine imposed upon us for the same reasons if out with an uncontrolled dog.

DOREEN CRONIN

Taunton, Somerset

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