Letter: Stag-hunting ban: National Trust bullied by the animal rights puritans

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Sir: I am a member of the National Trust and I choose not to hunt, but I am appalled at the decision of the Trust's council to ban stag-hunting (report, 11 April). The Trust cannot now logically deny any activist who presents a scientific report which demonstrates that animal cruelty occurs.

In the light of this precedent how can the Trust do anything other than ban fox-hunting? How can it do anything other than ban fishing, which can hardly be said to be stress-free for the fish?

Wider issues than animal welfare should have been taken into account. Habitats suitable for hunting are bio-diverse and support many other species. They are now at risk to commercial forestry and the desolate monoculture of arable farming. Hunting is part of a cultural heritage which stretches back into pre-history. It remains one of our last links with our natural "hunter-gatherer" past.

Who is to say which is the most cruel: that an animal lives in a natural environment in a natural way for all of its life and suffers some stress and cruelty in its last few hours; that an animal is shot, if lucky cleanly, and if unlucky left to die a lingering death; that an animal lives the whole of its life in an unnatural environment such as a cage, stall, enclosure or field, is often fed an unnatural diet and is selectively bred to exaggerate characteristics such as milk production?

The Trust should be ashamed of itself. It has let itself be bullied by the New Puritans of the animal rights movement.

LESLEY ELLIS

Alton, Hampshire

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