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Thursday, 28 May 2015

True picture of hunting

Somewhere in a classic 19th-century novel (erudite readers of the News & Star, help please!) the congregation is sitting in a small rural church awaiting the unveiling of a long-awaited depiction of The Ten Commandments by a local calligrapher.

The curtain is drawn back: there is a silence and then a gasp – the inebriated artist has everywhere omitted the word “NOT!”

This is how I felt on reading, Mr Sanderson’s criticism (News & Star, October 26) of my earlier letter which gave the basis for a statement that hounds and wolves hunt foxes in a similar manner: had I inadvertently put in a “NOT?”

On re-reading, no. The letter, to a correspondent who appeared to doubt the statement’s validity, did indeed confirm its authenticity and university origin, by offering to supply chapter and verse.

Therefore the statement is neither – as Mr Sanderson asserts – a mere ‘mantra’ nor ‘mine’, but the words of wildlife biologists who have no other brief than to try to develop a true picture of what happens in the wild.

His words “Perhaps he (ie myself) believes that if he says it often enough it will become true,” clearly refer to the (in)famous dictum of Goebels, the Nazi propaganda chief (would we now call him a spin-doctor?) that if you repeat a lie often enough the public will come to believe it.

If he takes up the offer of chapter and verse (via this paper) he will find that I am not spreading a lie and can challenge the authors themselves with his charge that the comparison is incorrect. He touches on a matter of contemporary interest when he mentions in passing that wolves were ‘hunted’ to extinction (which would surely have been self-defeating for the hunters ?)

I suspect that they were exterminated by everyone using all means possible, because of their depredation on livestock, which is why many – especially I imagine, in sheep-dependent Cumbria – are suspicious of the present drive to re-introduce them in modern Britain.