BSE AND FIELDSPORTS
The recent news that a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) had been diagnosed in a dead cow in Aberdeenshire didn’t make the headlines in the same way that it might have done a few years back. With politics taking precedence with the media, it is easy to sweep an individual case of BSE under the carpet, but there could yet be greater ramifications for the nation’s farmers.
The effects of Brexit on farming are still an unknown quantity and the news about the BSE incident could well affect international confidence and potential new export markets for our beef industry.
There is also an outbreak of African swine fever (News, p.6) affecting Bulgaria, Romania and Poland — apparently being spread by wild boar — and if this disease reached our shores it would be nothing short of a catastrophe. The recent lack
12 • Shooting times & Country magazine of investment in the training of directly employed official veterinary surgeons and meat hygiene inspectors by the Food Standards Agency could leave the UK struggling to contain such an outbreak, should the unthinkable occur in the UK.
The fact is that virtually all our fieldsports take place on land worked by farmers. The foot-andmouth disease epidemic of 2001 had a big impact on foxhunting in affected areas and, with the shooting season upon us, a similar problem could well affect our sport. Brexit or not, the world is a small place, so let’s hope for the sake of our sport and our farmers that no further scares happen within our shores.
G. Lorne, by email Having been involved in fieldsports in West Cork for the past 47 years I must take issue with Barry Stoffell’s article (A wellplaced hare piece, 17 October). I belong to several gun clubs and at the annual meetings we are always asked not to shoot hares. There has never been an objection. There’s no sport in shooting hares nor a need to protect crops from them.
If a hare has to die it should be in the jaws of a hound. Stick to shooting rabbits.
J. Boazman, County Cork
Barry Stoffell responds: I’m sorry that you felt compelled to object to my conduct. The hare shot in this piece was despatched humanely, legally, and with the full knowledge and permission of the landowner. Hares, as you will know, are permitted to be shot in Ireland from 26 September to 28 February under the Wildlife Act 1976. I can personally attest to the thriving population of hares in this location and in the wider area.
Rest assured that I share your high regard for this animal. I shoot very few hares and those that I do shoot are destined for the kitchen, where they are