Hunting, shooting and fishing

 

Sir, – The clandestine agenda of some opposing “cruel sports” would not stop with a ban on hunting, shooting, coursing and fishing. Their agenda extends into legislating on modern farming and animal husbandry practices. Ultimately they want to see a ban on killing animals and eating meat. As committed vegans, they want nothing less than for animals to have the same “rights” as humans – anthropomorphism.

In contrast, in this country there are approximately 1,000 registered gun clubs, 70 coursing clubs, over 300 registered hunt clubs (who hunt on foot or horseback). Almost every parish in Ireland has an angling club. For the country sports enthusiast, every day is an away game, and we depend entirely upon the generosity and permission of supportive farmers and landowners to engage in our respective sports. We are an intrinsic part of our local communities.

Some would have you believe that country sports people are cruel and that we engage in activities that are barbarous. However, country people know the destruction a fox or mink can leave behind them to poultry or at lambing time. Country people have a realistic view of their environment and they also know that the local hunt, coursing or gun club or fishing club are engaged locally and assist in maintaining the rural environment.

Many hunts and gun clubs spend hundreds of thousands each year protecting habitats that accommodate a huge variety of mammals and other wildlife. Many fishing clubs spend hundreds of thousands each year stocking and maintaining rivers. In the absence of the local hunt, coursing club, gun or fishing club, who do these misguided idealists think will maintain the habitats, the hedgerows, the rivers, the woodlands and bogs that serve to protect our natural flora and fauna? How much do these anthropomorphic zealots invest in the countryside? What lands and rivers do they own and maintain? Apart from writing letters to politicians and newspapers and generally making a nuisance of themselves, what do they contribute to rural life and to the rural environment? It’s akin to someone from inner city Dublin telling a farmer in the midlands how to run his farm.

More than ever rural Ireland – which has no high-tech industries, no big investment or multiplex shopping centres – needs country sports to provide direct and indirect employment and industries such as feed merchants, gunsmiths and tackle providers, saddlers, blacksmiths, livery yards, vehicle and horsebox sales, pubs, hotels and guest houses and many other local businesses, to drive local economies. So many rural businesses and spin-off businesses depend upon the money spent locally by country sports enthusiasts and visitors to the area.

Our politicians – particularly those in the three larger parties – would do well to heed the advice of those that represent country sports in this jurisdiction. – Yours, etc,

JAMES E NORTON,

Trim,

Co Meath.