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The French manner of hunting is gentlemanlike; ours is only for bumpkins and bodies. The poor beasts here are pursued and run downby much greater beasts than themselves; and the true British fox-hunter is most undoubtedly a species appropriated and peculiar to this country, which no other part of the globe produces.
The middle way is still driving on the wrong side of the road; it still permits the killing of the fox for pleasure. One cannot kill half a fox. Like Monty Python parrot, a fox torn apart by hounds remains dead, deceased and off its perch for ever. Before the fox has been dispatched – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly – it will have suffered the agonies of the pursuit by animals four times its size and four times its strength. The middle way is a compromise that still seriously compromises the welfare of the fox.
When I was young, I was a hunter, walking wooded hillsides with confident steps and a gun in my hand. I knew the blur of wings, the rocketing form, and the Great Moment that only hunters know, when all existence draws down to two points and a single line. And the universe holds it breath. And what may be and what will be meet and become one – before the echo returns to its source.
I did translations of Grimms’ Fairy Tales and became very charmed about that way of looking at things. Fairy tales tell a lot of truths. Just as a side point, for instance, we always think the bad guys in fairy tales are the stepmothers, who are witches. But where are the fathers when the witches are killing and mishandling their children? Away. They are on a business trip. They are hunting, they are away. Wow, you know! No one says the fathers are the bad guys! It’s one of the things you don’t say. But my goodness, where are they?
Killing for pleasure is wrong and should be banned. Fox hunting, stag hunting and hare coursing are moral issues. It is time that we stood up for morality. The commandment Thou shall not kill may be hedged with exceptions.Thou shall not kill for pleasure is not; it is a commandment for the 21st century and it is time that we respected it unambiguously, without prevarication and without procrastination.
Otter is the most brilliant mix of facts ancient and modern about the otter species and its vulnerability to man’s seemingly insatiable need to hunt the poor animal for reasons other than survival. I am sure the book will help to ensure that the hunting of otters will never return to this country-and I hope other lands will follow this example . . . A fascinating and illuminating book.