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As usual at this time of year, the papers are full of pictures and colour pieces extolling the alleged virtues of fox hunting.
Vivid descriptions of fun- loving spectators gathering in town and village squares to watch the splendidly attired ladies and gentlemen on their steaming mounts clip-clopping past, happy hounds clustered about them, tails wagging in anticipation.
Journalists and columnists conjure up images of cheery hunting folk sipping punch or burgundy from stirrup cups at the end of their cross-country adventure.
What a pity that these fawning articles don’t refer to what happens to one of the essential players in the game: The fox, the animal whose wily nature is deemed vital to a good day’s hunting. He doesn’t get to experience any of the fun. For him, the chase is a life and death run.
If caught he will have the skin ripped from his bones. If he manages to find refuge underground, the terrier men will retrieve him by dropping a dog down. The result of this encounter between hyped-up terrier and a desperate cornered fox is something you won’t see depicted on table mats, Christmas cards, or tourist brochures.
The sad part is that the exhilaration of the chase and the social camaraderie associated with fox hunting could be preserved with a switch to draghunting. It’s a humane alternative in which the hounds pursue a scent laid in advance along a pre-determined route.
Lower Coyne Street
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