We in the Irish Republic who have campaigned for decades against blood sport are delighted to hear that the Northern Ireland assembly will shortly consider a bill to ban hunting with dogs.
Apart from easing the plight of wildlife in your jurisdiction such a measure will boost the morale of animal welfare groups down here in our efforts to win over politicians.
Two decades into the 21st century it is surely time to grant protection to the wily fox, the humble hare, and the majestic stag, creatures that enhance the countryside and are celebrated in song, literature, and mythology.
The life span of these animals is short enough as it is, without bringing their simple lives to a bloody and ignominious end for the sake of a cheap thrill.
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Thomas More in his classic work Utopia envisaged a blood sports ban as part of his vision of the perfect society.
And Shakespeare makes reference to both hare and deer hunting:
In his narrative poem, Venus and Adonis, he empathises with a hare that is being chased by hounds:
“…Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles,
How he outruns the wind, and with what care
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles…”
And in As You like it, the world’s greatest dramatist has an onlooker describe the plight of a wounded stag:
“…The wretched animal heaved forth such groans
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting, and the big round tears
Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase….”
(Act Two, Scene One, lines 33-40)
MLAs have a unique opportunity to end practices that belong to the Dark Ages.
The creatures of field and forest have suffered for long enough at the hands of man’s perennial inhumanity.
John Fitzgerald, Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, Callan, Co Kilkenny
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