Hunting: Can People Change?

Soon it will be the so-called Glorious 12th here in the UK, this being August 12th which begins the shooting season, when men , usually men but increasingly women, go out onto the moorland armed to the teeth and use tiny birds as live targets, shooting them out of the sky after terrifying them into leaving the safe cover of their habitats by what is called grouse beating – a method to drive them towards the shooters using flags, sticks, and other devices. During 1st October to 1 February, this barbaric behaviour is further added to by the commencement of the pheasant shooting season.Add to this deer hunting/stalking in some way or another depending on the breed or gender of deer occurs throughout most of the year. Rabbits of course can be killed with little or no restrictions all year round. What a shocking state of affairs exists when people can legally kill members of another species simply for fun, wantonly and callously take the lives of other sentient beings who have as much right as we to live out their natural life spans.

You can read more about shooting in this blog here here and here

Hunting, shooting, deer stalking are all the same thing namely the killing or massacre of other living beings, the different classifications are irrelevant to the unfortunate animals who suffer pain and death as a result of this inhumane pastime.

What makes people wish to go out into wild places and with deliberate intention shoot helpless defenceless animals? More to the point can such people change?

Below you can read what Lady Florence Dixie back in the 19th century said about hunting and other blood sports:

“What is it but deliberate massacre when thousands and tens of thousand of tame, hand-reared creatures are literally drawn into the Jaws of death and mown down in a particular brutal manner? A perfect roar of guns fills the air, louder tap and yell the beaters, above the din can be heard the heart-rendering cries of wounded hares and rabbits, some of which can be seen dragging themselves away, with both hind legs broken, or turning round and round in their agony before they die. And the pheasants ! They are on every side, some rising, some dropping, some lying dead, but the greater majority fluttering on the ground wounded, some with both legs broken and a wing, some with both wings broken and a leg, others merely winged, running to hide, others mortally wounded gasping out their last breath of life amidst the fiendish sounds which surround them. And this is called sport!… Sport in every form and kind is horrible, from the rich man’s hare-coursing to the poor man’s rabbit-coursing.
Lady Florence Dixie The Horrors of Sport

From reading the above you may be surprised to learn that Florence Dixie, a Scottish traveller, war correspondent, writer and feminist, once participated in blood sports with great enthusiasm including big game hunting. However during the 1890s her views on what is often termed field sports changed quite dramatically, in her book The Horrors of Sport she condemned blood sports as cruel.

We owe much to animals, and their rights are still shamefully neglected, while wild animals are absolutely unprotected. Many women are heedlessly, and others ignorantly cruel in this particular. … Experience has taught me the cruelty and horror of much miscalled sport. Wide travel, much contact with the animal world , and a good deal of experience in a variety of sports have all combined to make me ashamed and deeply regretful for every life my hand has taken.
From an interview with Charles W. Forward,1894

During her early life and travels Dixie enjoyed hunting,  raging from fox hunting to hunting wild life in Patagonia as the following extracts describe.

Dixie was an enthusiastic fox hunting participant:

‘The merry blast of the huntsman’s horn resounds, the view-halloa rings out cheerily on the bright crisp air of a fine hunting morning; the fox is “gone away,” you have got a good start, and your friend has too. “Come on,” he shouts, “let us see this run together!” Side by side you fly the first fence, take your horse in hand, and settle down to ride over the broad grass country. How distinctly you remember that run, how easily you recall each fence you flew together, each timber-rail you topped, and that untempting bottom you both got so luckily and safely over, and above all, the old farm-yard, where the gallant fox yielded up his life.’

Across Patagonia Florence Dixie

During 1878-1879 Dixie travelled with her husband, two of her brothers and a friend in Patagonia in South America. There, she hunted big game. Below is an extract from Across Patagonia in which she describes with gusto the chase and killing of an ostrich.

Fortunately, beyond a shaking, I am unhurt, and remounting, endeavour to rejoin the now somewhat distant chase. The ostrich, Gregorio, and the dog have reached the plain, and as I gallop quickly down the hill I can see that the bird has begun doubling. This is a sure sign of fatigue, and shows that the ostrich’s strength is beginning to fail him. Nevertheless it is a matter of no small difficulty for one dog to secure his prey, even at this juncture, as he cannot turn and twist about as rapidly as the ostrich. At each double the bird shoots far ahead of his pursuer, and gains a considerable advantage. Away across the plain the two animals fly, whilst I and Gregorio press eagerly in their wake. The excitement grows every moment more intense, and I watch the close struggle going on with the keenest interest. Suddenly the stride of the bird grows slower, his doubles become more frequent, showers of feathers fly in every direction as Plata seizes him by the tail, which comes away in his mouth. In another moment the dog has him by the throat, and for a few minutes nothing can be distinguished but a gray struggling heap. Then Gregorio dashes forward and throws himself off his horse, breaks the bird’s neck, and when I arrive upon the scene the struggle is over. The run had lasted for twenty-five minutes.

So what changed:

Florence Dixie eventually became “haunted by a sad remorse” for the death of a beautiful golden deer of the Cordilleras, who was unusually tame and trusting.  After this time Dixie’s views on field sports changed dramatically, and in her book The Horrors of Sport  she condemned blood sports as cruel. She eventually became a vegetarian and an advocate for animals, she wrote “A Prayer for Dogs” to help people realise the necessity of the proper treatment of domestic animals and the “The Union of Mercy”to help teach children not to torment birds and adults not to wear fur.

In more recent times the next convert from hunting describes his reasons for doing so:

Changing Attitudes: Why I Quit Hunting
A Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: The Sanitizing of Violence in Our Society Article from All-Creatures.org

In November 1989, I was shot by a deer hunter, while on my own property. The irresponsible hunter left me for dead, and my twelve year old son loaded me in a truck and drove me 40 miles to a hospital. That didn’t dampen my enthusiasm, though, and is not the reason I quit, but it did give me a solid taste of what the animals endure.

I guess I just started to understand that the animal I was looking at through a scope was not just a target, but a living thing. A thing that suffered when shot, a thing that I had no right to kill, though I had the privilege to do so, by virtue of paying another person a fee for a license. Think about that. The animal is minding his own business when you go into a store, pay a fee and walk out with a license to kill the animal, what a deal.

I shot the last animal that will ever fall to my gun in November 1992. I hunted until January, 1997.

In five years, I discovered I could love the outdoors, and it’s experiences, which I still dearly enjoy, without killing. The guns stay at home when I take to the field now, though I keep the rust off them by frequent trips to the range to break clay targets or make little groups of holes in paper, and I have turned more to shooting competition for satisfaction and achievement.

Continue reading:
http://www.all-creatures.org/sof/quithunt.html

Hunting/shooting – or plain and simply murder of the other living beings with whom we share our world –  is a pursuit of the past, at least it should be for it has no place in the modern world. As Isaac Bashevis Singer  once wrote: “There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.”

Whether it is foxes, deer, grouse, pheasants or rabbits and hares it is time to end the killing. No country can claim to be ethically progressive while it allows and even encourages it citizens to kill animals simply to satisfy some abhorrent pleasure.

Ban all hunting. 

Hunters and others involved educate yourself about hunting. Consider a more humane pastime.

9 Things No One Told You About Hunting

Hunters make up many excuses to justify their pastime. However, cruel, unnecessary killing—which is what hunting is—has no justification.

Continue reading:
https://www.peta.org/features/things-no-one-told-you-about-hunting/

More and more people are opposed to hunting.

Bristol Hunt Saboteurs are ‘snowed under’ with new members hoping to stop fox hunting

“With hunting firmly back on the agenda, a Bristol group who make it their business to disrupt fox hunts say they are ‘snowed under’ with new requests to join.

Using dogs to hunt foxes was banned under in 2004. Despite this members of the hunt sabs claim foxes are still regularly hunted with packs of dogs in the South West.”

Continue reading:
http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bristol-hunt-saboteurs-snowed-under-100127

Ways to help bring an end to hunting

Contact the League Against Cruel Sports
https://www.league.org.uk/

This next link includes suggestions about how you can help to stop hunting where you live. PETA USA but much of the information applies anywhere:

Why Sport Hunting Is Cruel and Unnecessary
https://www.peta.org/issues/wildlife/wildlife-factsheets/sport-hunting-cruel-unnecessary/

Sources of some of the information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Florence_Dixie

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=q8Gg2sQEEsYC&dq=Than+I+like+to+see+a+trout,+Basking+in+a+shallow+pool+And+I+hate+to+see+the+lout+Drag+them+from+their+waters+cool&source=gbs_navlinks_s

The Immorality of Grouse Shooting

Again another delayed article, but a reminder of the atrocity of grouse shooting season is something which can be discussed and fought against any time. Firstly apologies for the awful formatting. Not my fault, I have tried for some considerable time to sort it out and it seems that this all too common wordpress glitch will not resolve.

When I was twelve, I went hunting with my father and we shot a bird. He was laying there and something struck me. Why do we call this fun to kill this creature [who] was as happy as I was when I woke up this morning.
Marv Levy
 grose-shooting-appeal-main-image
At the beginning of August my husband and I were in the Yorkshire Dales which is very beautiful at this time of year as the hills are covered with purple heather. All very tranquil except for the sound of gunfire.
The problem is that about the same time of year the four-month long shooting season begins where a small minority of very wealthy people go out onto the moors to shoot grouse. Grouse are tiny birds like the one below who has been shot down from the sky for no other reason than sadistic pleasure. These birds are  bread on the moors for this purpose – more about this later. During August to December they are shot in their thousands, in  2012, 700,000 red grouse were killed during the season,  as day after day shooters use them as live targets.

The Yorkshire Dales of course is not the only locality that provides this obscene form of pleasure to the elite minority, other locations include the Durham Dales, the Yorkshire Moors, Exmoor, in fact any area that has heather moorland.  Throughout the UK since the mid 1800s many areas of heather have been carefully managed to provide grouse for shooting.

 

Indeed there is a dark side to the breathtaking splendor of the heather covered hillsides that so many of us admire and that is, the… heather-rich environment is created because the grouse thrive on young heather shoots. To create fresh young shoots, the heather is burned, which can harm wildlife and damage the environment.

My family and I have enjoyed this breathtaking scenery for many years without knowing the disturbing reasons for its existence.

 

A return trip to the dales in late September and the situation was even worse with three shooting parties in close proximity.

 

The three shooting parties where in short distance from one another and many many birds who were once enjoying the beautiful windy day were shot from the sky for the pleasure of these over privileged psychopaths. I did tell one group what I thought of them along the lines of “you murdering bastards, cowards shooting tiny defenceless birds”. Yes I know I often say that verbal abuse does little good but…well… I get angry, so angry.  It is depressing, and frustrating knowing that there is nothing I could do to stop this as this country (UK) allows the annual barbaric slaughter of these innocent helpless birds. It’s all about money and abhorrent pleasure, shooting parties are charged as much as £10,000 per trip just to shoot these tiny birds. Like many of the awful things that happen in the world it is I fear the acquisition of wealth for the minority that perpetuates this atrocity.  Vast acres of this beautiful landscape are managed in order to accommodate this barbaric pleasure. Notices displayed all over the hills at the commencement of footpaths tell people not to disturb ground nesting birds or in the case of the notice below not to allow dogs except on public footpaths. No not for the welfare of the birds but so that there are more birds for these wicked people to kill every year.

 

grouse-moors

The Yorkshire dales is a popular place for hikers, people like to walk in the hills, myself included, and it is awful to suddenly come across these shooting parties. This aspect of grouse shooting is rarely considered.

The locals accept this blatant cruelty as a way of life, just the way things are and even make light of it. In a local tea room a notice says something a long the lines of: ” It is grouse season, be careful to duck!  Relax with a nice soothing cup of tea.

 

This day in September was a glorious day with sun wind and even a little rain with rainbows but all this was spoiled by the sound of gunfire.

The Yorkshire Dales is a peaceful place and very scenic until you become aware of the awful things that take place there to animals. The shooting season lasts from August 12th until mid December, so for four months of the year these helpless birds are shot down from the skies, walkers and other visitors to the dales are more than likely to meet up with a shooting party and even if you just drive through, stop for a picnic or admire the view you are likely to be confronted by the sound of gun fire and see men – well it is still mostly men- approaching carrying dead grouse.

I loath this time of year in the dales, when you can hear gun shots you know that birds are being killed for no reason other than the perverted pleasure of the over privileged.

Why, why do we allow this barbaric practice to continue. It is a fact the majority of the population oppose grouse shooting, yet it remains.

There has been a recent petition concerning grouse shooting  which gained 125,76 signatures, the number required to force a debate in parliament:
Ban driven grouse shooting

Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, relies on killing Foxes, Stoats, Mountain Hares etc in large numbers and often leads to the deliberate illegal killing of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers.

Driven grouse shooting uses animals for live target practice, with thousands killed every day. Native predators are killed because they eat Red Grouse. Mountain Hares are killed because they carry ticks that can spread diseases to grouse. Heather is burned to increase Red Grouse numbers for shooting. Grouse shooting is economically, ecologically and socially unnecessary. This is ‘canned hunting’.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003  This petition is now closed

The above petition by Scientist Dr Mark Avery supported by the League against Cruel Sport and wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham aimed to bring an end to this barbarity.

Prior to the debate a committee met on October 18th to consider evidence, the Committee wanted the House of Commons to have the chance to hear evidence on this issue. This is supposed to inform MPs taking part in the House of Commons debate.
Signatories of petitions were invited to share their expertise on the subject.
In particular, the Committee welcomed contributions on the following points:-
“Should the law on grouse shooting be changed? If so, how?
– What effect does grouse shooting have on wildlife and the environment?
– What role does grouse shooting play in rural life, especially the rural
economy?”
You can read more about the committee meeting and debate by clicking this link
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003  and go to the heading: Other parliamentary business
You can read Mark Avery’s written evidence and also the evidence of the RSPB, Countryside Alliance and
Moorland Association
The debate took place on October 31st.
You can watch this online :
I am sure that it will come as no surprise that the government rejected the petition’s call for a grouse shooting ban. Sadly we remain an uncivilised country that allows its citizens to wantonly take the lives of members of another species for pleasure and profit and simply because they can. The progress it seems towards a more ethical society has taken another step backwards, a sad day for all who worked tirelessly, all who signed the petition and a sad day also for the grouse who are shot out of the sky as living targets in a barbaric so-called sport that should now be consigned to history.
Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow-creatures is amusing in itself.
James Anthony
The issue of morality

In addition to the sound arguments against grouse shooting –  such as the intensive habitat management required, which is responsible for damaging protected wildlife sites, increased water pollution, flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions – there is an even more important consideration: morality. Yet there is no mention included in the points of evidence to be considered of the ethics of killing thousands of living beings simply to fulfill some perverted pass-time of the well shod.

It is surely deeply immoral to use live animals as targets, yet morality is rarely considered in any debate concerning grouse shooting or pheasant shooting which commenced in October.

Yes I of course realise that nothing would change on the basis of morality as a stand alone argument, the rights and wrongs of killing another living being for the purpose of pleasure would sadly not alone hold any weight in such a debate, yet this issue is surely one of the most important.

Concerning the Countryside Allowances’ now familiar argument

  • For many upland communities, grouse shooting plays a pivotal role in the local economy, providing a valuable source of jobs and income for local businesses. It also underpins the social life of these communities and helps to tackle rural isolation.
The same could surely be said of just about any of the grave social injustices both past and present and the ongoing exploitation of most of the species on the planet including our own that the continuation of these abuses are important to local economies, employment and social life. I am particularly amused by the rural isolation argument which is just so ludicrous as there are few places here in the UK which are really that isolated and even if they were the influx of a relatively small number of people for three months each year would have little impact and in my opinion does not justify the slaughter of thousands of birds.
Here is more information.
Below is an account of a driven grouse shooting moor in the UK

The chilly air chaps your cheeks as your boots rustle through the heather – and when you reach the top of the hill, you can see for miles.

Stretched out all around you is moorland. Open, treeless, with not a house or farm in sight.

It looks and feels wild, so you should expect to be able to see plenty of wildlife . But there is nothing, it’s silent and still, it’s eerie.

Then you pass a log lying over a little stream. On it, inside a metal cage, is a trap and in its jaws are the smashed and tangled remains of a stoat, its eyes squeezed from their sockets, its mouth locked open in a grimace of terminal pain.

Before that, you had stood holding your nose at the side of a gamekeeper’s “stink pit”, gazing in disbelief at the rotting bodies of foxes , crows, magpies, all mouldering in a vile mess of feathers, fur and flesh and bone.

And then through your binoculars, you spot something. It’s a bird, flapping furiously, battering itself against a post. It is hanging with its feet clamped in a trap.

When you get closer, you can see its bent and bloody legs, its long black-tipped grey wings and its frayed tail. It is a male hen harrier and it has been caught in a pole trap. It will die a long, painful death.

All this so the birds of prey and natural predators won’t harm grouse – birds that have been bred and reared to be shot for pleasure.

Continue reading:
Ban grouse shooting – it’s cruel, harms the environment and we’re all paying for it
More Grouse Shooting Facts
“100,000 birds killed every day during the shooting season, the senseless massacre of wildlife on a massive scale, dubious financial claims and significant animal welfare abuses – our new report – “The Case Against Bird Shooting” – exposes the true nature of commercial shooting. This is Britain’s canned hunting industry.”
The true face of Driven Grouse shooting

“Intensive grouse shooting depends on wildlife crime – protected raptors have to be killed in order for the big ‘bags’ of Red Grouse to be possible. Even if a particular grouse moor does not kill protected raptors, they will benefit if other grouse moors, near and far, do so. Intensive grouse shooting is underpinned by wildlife crime.

Continue reading:
http://markavery.info/2016/08/09/true-face-driven-grouse-shooting/

Mark Avery’s website has more links to articles about grouse shooting:
http://markavery.info/

Another immorality is that this cruel practice is subsidised by the tax payers, most of whom do not support this barbaric so-called sport. Grouse shooting is supported to the tune of 17 million pounds which is paid to landowners and farmers, people who are already wealthy and who will accrue even more wealth as a result of the business of grouse shooting.

In addition to grouse shooting being heavily subsidised by the tax payer, it involves wildlife crime as already mentioned as the grouse’s natural predators including protected species such as peregrine falcons, golden eagles, red kites and hen harriers are killed to maintain the vast numbers of grouse required for shooting.  In England, the hen harrier remains critically endangered and on the verge of extinction as a result of persecution on grouse moors  Also the following animals are killed in large numbers: mountain hares, weasels, stoats, magpies, crows, foxes, badgers, rats, even squirrels and many more. As discussed earlier the land is intensively managed by burning and draining to create a monoculture of the heather the birds eat. This releases the carbon in the soil, pollutes rivers and helps to flood the towns downstream.
 …grouse moors are subsidised by us. At the height of his austerity programme, as essential public services were cut to the bone, David Cameron’s government raised the subsidy for grouse moors by 84%, to £56 per hectare. Some owners now harvest hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money every year. Cameron also tried to close the national wildlife crime unit, which would have pleased his friends no end. It was saved only by a public outcry.

“But through the efforts of wildlife campaigners (like Packham and the RSPB) and people whose homes have been flooded downstream, the grouse industry is now being called to account”

Continue reading
The grouse shooters aim to kill: the first casualty is the truth
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/16/grouse-shooters-kill-first-casualty-is-truth-astroturfing-botham-rspb-packham  This article discusses less obvious concerns of Astroturfing and the threat of such to democracy

Watch the real Price of Grouse: Subsidies

While 17 million is spent on subsidises for the rich to indulge their cruel sport councils throughout the country face as much as a 40 per cent cut back in government funding . As a consequence vital services such as lollipop men and women are cut with the result of a loss of their jobs and children are consequently put at risk as a result.

As a result of government funding cuts  Newcastle council are considering axing school crossing patrols.

Getting rid of the 53 lollipop men and women would save more than £200,000.

Other areas of the Labour-run authority also face big cuts, including £4m from children’s services, and more than £11m from adult social care, as well as the city’s community and information hubs.

Social care cuts take English service to tipping point, regulator warns

Read More:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-37550447

Newcastle is of course not the only council affected by government cuts which forces them to make cut backs to vital public services. While millions of the tax payer money is spent subsidising the “sport of kings “(grouse shooting) our services are cut. Grouse shooting is referred to as the “sport of kings” as it is only the wealthy elite who can afford to participate. Yet this is subsidised at the expense of poor people.

Cut backs are also affecting the NHS

Schools also suffer as a result of cuts by the government

£3billion cash crisis in schools as funding to be cut by more than £1,000 per pupil
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/3billion-cash-crisis-schools-funding-9629493

Most of the land in the Yorkshire Dales is managed to encourage the numbers of grouse to increase, this is many many acres of land. The following blog provides a good assessment as to what goes on behind the scenic facade that people enjoy all the year round, including hunting, shooting and sheep farming,

A vegan’s observations in the Yorkshire Dales
http://theveganpunk.com/vegan-observations-in-reeth-arkengarthdale-swaledale-the-yorkshire-dales/

 

The UK can never claim to be a civilised country while it allows people to use live animals as target practice. I had hoped that this debate would bring us closer to a more modern nation which respects the lives of the other beings who inhabit our beautiful countryside.

Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight. And after I’ve finished “shooting,” my unharmed victims are still around for others to enjoy. I have developed a deep respect for animals. I consider them fellow living creatures with certain rights that should not be violated any more than those of humans.
Jimmy Stewart
Related Link
Grouse shooting estates shored up by millions in subsidies
Common agricultural policy money given to estates in England, including one owned by the Duke of Westminster,  the richest landowner in Britain with land holdings estimated to be worth £9bn
 
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/28/grouse-shooting-estates-shored-up-by-millions-in-subsidies  This article reveals who gets the subsidies and where grouse shooting takes place.
sophie harris

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