Killing for fun is not a sport

The Herald on Sunday - - EDITORIAL & LETTERS -

TRO­PHY pho­tographs of dead an­i­mals that have been shot for fun are a tra­di­tion in the world of coun­try sports. To some, they are clearly a source of grat­i­fi­ca­tion and pride.

To many of us, though, they are the op­po­site: cruel, bar­baric and sick­en­ing. What does it say about a so­ci­ety if it re­gards the killing of large num­bers of sen­tient crea­tures as fun, as sport? It’s not sur­pris­ing, then, that VisitS­cot­land re­moved a photo from its web­site of shoot­ers dis­play­ing moun­tain hares they had shot for fun in this coun­try. What’s harder to un­der­stand is why the tourist agency sees fit to keep back­ing blood sports.

Of course, the shoot­ing in­dus­try brings in a lot of valu­able in­come to ru­ral ar­eas, and is worth maybe £115 mil­lion a year. But at what cost to Scot­land’s in­ter­na­tional im­age?

Wouldn’t it be bet­ter to en­cour­age vis­i­tors to pay to watch and won­der at wild an­i­mals, rather than to blow them to bits? Shoot­ers ar­gue that moun­tain hare pop­u­la­tions are healthy on sport­ing es­tates. But con­ser­va­tion groups say their sta­tus is un­cer­tain, and are de­mand­ing a halt to mass culls. Even if moun­tain hares are surviving, is it ac­cept­able to mar­ket their mass shoot­ing as a hobby? Is this the kind of role that a mod­ern, civilised Scot­land re­ally wants to have in the world? We doubt it.

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