BSE AND FIELD­SPORTS

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - LETTERS -

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

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