Here we have a food writer describing ‘the joys’ of wildfowling and game shooting at a time when wetlands and other wildlife habitats in this country have for years now been under tremendous pressure.
On the one hand, Regina Sexton claims to have a ‘sentimental and selective’ attitude towards ‘sentient creatures’, while on the other hand she poses in the middle of a bunch of Downton Abbey ‘wannabes’ on the grounds of Longueville House with dozens of wild birds strewn at their feet. She seems to regret that the day’s shoot — in which she appears to have revelled — resulted in a comparatively small ‘bag’ of only 60 birds! Similar shoots in Britain, she adds, frequently result in hundreds of birds being shot. The list of birds mentioned as ‘fair game’ in this article includes red-legged partridge, Jack snipe, woodcock and golden eye duck. Can someone please point out to this person that several of these birds are endangered species, and that conservationists here and in other countries are working overtime to protect their habitats and build up their numbers?
Jack Power, in his arrogant defence of events like the Longueville Shoot, describes wildfowling and hunting as ‘spiritually, physically and emotionally uplifting’, something that is ‘an essential, throbbing’ part of his self-definition. He does not mention that ‘shoots’ such as these are also financially profitable for those who own hundred of acres of private land and lakes, and miles of private rivers. He goes on to trivialise opponents of such ‘shoots’ as hysterical fanatics who would not harm a feather on the head of a turkey, and who consider Dustin as one of the family. We are nothing of the sort, and it ill fits any journalist in today’s Ireland to trivialise the anti-shooting lobby in this manner.
Siobhan Cronin in an addendum to this feature is perfectly correct when she states that ‘taking joy in death’ is retrogressive. She is especially correct when she says that hunters only disinfect the language when they talk of dogs and hunters ‘dispatching’ wildfowl and game birds with a sense of ‘urgency’.
Wild birds are not mere playthings for giving bored journalists some sort of caveman-like ‘kick’. Neither are they there to add yet another dimension to our overloaded plates at the Christmas table.