Letters: Hunting: minority pastime for heartless few

These letters appear in the May 25 edition of The Independent

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I sympathise with Penelope Reid (letters, 23 May) for the loss of her hens, but we live in a world with wildlife, and conflict is common. The kneejerk reaction of killing all and sundry plainly doesn’t work, or depredations would have stopped centuries ago. What is working, all across the world, is improved husbandry, careful scientific studies, and a realisation that killing animal after animal is pointless when the whole cycle could be stopped by a better fence.

It’s good enough for the Maldari tribals of India, who coexist with wild lions. It’s good enough for the Maasai. It’s good enough for certified predator-friendly ranchers in the US, who sell premium products while protecting coyotes, grizzlies, wolves and pumas.

Apparently, it’s not good enough for the British. Are we too weak to live peacefully with a 10lb predator?

Adele Brand
Caterham, Surrey


As a hunt monitor for seven seasons I am aware of atrocities that are an everyday occurrence in the hunting calendar (Letters, 21 May).

First, the number of hound pups born is well beyond the required number. As hounds are pack animals, hunts do not consider homing them. They are killed.

Hounds that do not come up to standard are killed. When the hounds are past their sell-by date, they are killed. Foxes are “accidentally” killed by the hounds. Badger holes are blocked to prevent foxes taking refuge, preventing the badger from exiting and therefore dying in the set.

Pets that are killed by hounds. Hounds are killed on roads and railway lines.This is the real picture of hunting, not the chocolate-box image of red coats, horses and hounds.

This is what David Cameron wants to be able to do without any restrictions. He and his cronies want to kill our wildlife for no justifiable reason other than that  he is “a country boy”, and in his view it is a very enjoyable pastime.

The Tories were elected for their economic policies, not to bring back this minority pastime for the heartless few.

Margaret Barnicle
Holmer Green Buckinghamshire


Sport? On one side a pack of 20 or 30 well-fed hounds, on the other a solitary fox, living on its wits in a hostile environment, trying to bring up a family and often going hungry. If the hounds win they get to tear apart a fox, and if they lose – nothing. For the fox, to lose is to die, to win – live until the next hunt. People get on horseback, in fancy dress, to ride across other people’s land in the hope of seeing a fox torn to shreds. And they call it “sport”.

Peter Booker
Sandhoe Northumberland


Mike McHugh says that passages in previous letters “depicting cruelty to the fox mirror exactly the cruelty inflicted on my half dozen hens by Mr Fox”, and says that he has “little sympathy now” with foxes being chased by the hunt.

His reaction is very understandable, but the cruelty inflicted by foxes is not morally equivalent to the cruelty inflicted on foxes by hunting them with dogs. This is because foxes, unlike human beings, are not moral agents; they cannot consider the consequences of their actions and be subject to praise or blame. On the other hand, like other animals, they are capable of suffering pain and fear.

It is our duty as moral agents to reduce the pain and fear other animals suffer as a consequence of our actions to a minimum.

This is why hunting with dogs is wrong: if animals need to be killed in order to reduce suffering to other animals, hunting with dogs is an inhumane and cruel way of doing it. It is our moral duty to kill, where we have to, in the most humane way possible.

John Dakin
Toddington Bedfordshire


PBSA development battles in Durham

Your report (19 May) on the development of luxury accommodation for wealthy students in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) blocks is timely. Durham, a small historic, university city, is besieged with applications for PBSAs. The developers have pounced on sites in the Conservation Area and on the fringes of the historic centre, claiming that these huge blocks will allow local terrace houses, occupied by students, to be released for permanent residents.

Those of us who live cheek-by-jowl with our student neighbours know that UK students like small, intimate terrace houses, and occasional contact with “ordinary” residents. The luxury end of the market is targeted at overseas students. Housed in expensive, managed apartments, they are insulated from day-to-day contact with local people, and have limited engagement with their UK contemporaries. Does this not undermine the principle of an open and vital university community?

Unfortunately, Durham County Council is currently at loggerheads with the National Planning Inspectorate, pursuing a Judicial Review, in its refusal to accept the interim report of the inspector for the enquiry over the county plan. The city now suffers from a policy vacuum over the dash for PBSAs. Developers’ cavalier attitude to the historic environment arouses deep cynicism over the council’s responsibility for the protection of this ancient and remarkable city.

Kirsty Thomas


Ill-judged government "crackdowns"

So the Government is proposing to give councils the power to “crack down” on landlords who rent to illegal immigrants (21 May).

In view of the same day’s well publicised exposé of rogue landlords renting disgraceful, substandard properties at astronomical rents to desperate tenants, is it too much to hope that the so-called “one-nation party for hard-working families” might consider giving councils powers to seize, as forfeit to the council, any property not brought up to standard despite enforcement action having been taken?

Councils could then refurbish these properties and let them at a fair rent as social housing and reduce their huge waiting lists.

Paul Jenkins
Newton Abbot, Devon


Regarding the Tory government’s latest example of compassionate Conservatism, enabling the police to seize the wages of illegal workers as “proceeds of crime”, how much disposable income do they think illegal migrant workers keep about their persons? Why aren’t they empowering the police to seize the assets of the employers of illegal workers?

Rod Bell


If Cameron intended to deter illegal migration, he would seize the land and property where illegal migrants work. The failure to do so is the principal factor in the continuing increase in immigration.

Martin London
Henllan, Denbighshire


Labour must not cosy up to business

Ironic that Liz Kendall should say that “most people thought we’d lost our balls before the election” (Donald Macintyre, 22 May) when, with her plans for a love-in with big business and the rich in general, she is clearly on a mission to castrate the entire Labour party.

Steve Edwards
Haywards Heath
West Sussex


Hopefully, the Liberal Democrats achieved their dream to be in government by going into coalition with the Tories and abandoning all their principles.

What is the point of Labour trying to be more like the Tories in order to get elected? It should stick to its core values, try to reduce the inequality in society and represent those people who are being abandoned by the present government.

By showing some moral courage it might even begin to restore some faith in the political system.

RE Hooper


Crime will rise with CCTV switch-off

Switching off swaths of CCTV cameras in public areas (report, 23 May) will, undoubtedly, make it more difficult for the police to deter and detect antisocial and criminal behaviour in towns throughout the land.

Yet CCTV on private premises, such as stores or supermarkets continues. Is surveillance to prevent shoplifting in a private establishment more important than preventing and detecting loutish behaviour and physical attacks in the public domain? Could this turn out to be another example of what Kenneth Galbraith described as “private affluence and public squalor?” Of course local authorities operate under tight financial restraints, but significantly reducing the use of this additional tool in combating crime might well turn out to be a false economy.

Stephen McBride
Largs, North Ayrshire


US to blame for hell in the middle east

The then secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, warned George Bush that if he invaded Iraq “the gates of hell would open”. They have, and Europe is paying the price.

Obama has been trying to dump Guantanamo inmates on unwilling allies: now Europe should tell him that he has a moral obligation to share the physical and financial burden of saving the desperate hordes fleeing the bloody consequences of US foreign policy.

Dr Adrian Marlowe
The Hague