A call for a Christmas truce for wildlife


Sir, – The festive season is almost upon us, but sadly we won’t be extending peace and goodwill to our persecuted wildlife.

We humans intensify our maltreatment of hares and foxes over Christmas.

Well-heeled riders set off in pursuit of an madra rua, hounding this wild dog until he drops from exhaustion. If he escapes underground, the spade and terrier gang is called in. The sportspeople celebrate in style afterwards . . . reliving the thrill of the chase with not a thought for the fox that has had the skin ripped from his bones for their amusement.

Coursing clubs, far from winding down at this time of year, step up their ghoulish assault on the gentlest creature in the Irish countryside.

Following weeks of unnatural captivity, the hares serve as bait for pairs of frenzied greyhounds. They must perform for their human captors. They become mere playthings for the dogs that strike them at high speed, crush their bones when they pin them to the ground, or fling them skyward like sloithers on a GAA pitch.

Even hares that seemingly escape unscathed may die from stress-related ailments after release back into the wild. Hand-reared pheasants waddle dream-like into the path of oncoming gunmen in so-called driven shoots. Having grown to trust their human masters they cannot conceive of the fate awaiting them. The attractive birds with their distinctive multi-hued plumage have as much chance of eluding death as farmyard hens would have against an M60 machine gun.

Could those who derive pleasure from seeing wildlife being torn or blown asunder, or terrorised, not also call a halt to their “sport” at Christmas?

I suggest that for the festive 12 days they put aside their guns, treat their dogs as pets rather than killing machines, and hang up their hunting horns. The creatures of field and forest deserve a holiday too! – Yours, etc,



Co Kilkenny.