THE arrogance displayed by Penny Little in her obsessive campaign against hunting and her questioning about my animal welfare credentials is truly astounding (SA, April 8). On one hand, I do not feel that I should have to justify myself to those who are so blinkered that they cannot see the bigger picture, while on the other hand perhaps my background might put this debate into some sort of perspective.
I worked for the League Against Cruel Sports for 15 years and was its director for seven of those years and that involved in-field work. I have been involved in numerous animal welfare campaigns against factory farming, the fur trade, whaling, aspects of vivisection, dog farming in Asia and wild animals in circuses. I have personally and successfully prosecuted badger baiters. I remain opposed to these activities and have been a vegetarian for almost 40 years. However, for valid animal welfare reasons I do not see hunting with scenting hounds in the same light and that, clearly, is something akin to blasphemy in the eyes of anti-hunt zealots like Ms Little.
It never ceases to amaze me why people who are strongly anti-hunting seem to judge everyone on the basis of their support or opposition to this activity. No matter what else one may do, it all comes down to whether or not you are pro or anti hunt - a warped way of thinking that leads us to the conclusion that pro-hunting Churchill was a bad guy, while anti-hunting Hitler was fine.
Those opposed to hunting simply ignore some of the other control methods that have now replaced hunting with hounds, which is selective and non-wounding. Of course not everything within the hunting world can be regarded as perfect and a new regulatory body will come into force to ensure high standards after repeal of the Hunting Act. A new wild mammal welfare law is also being considered, though already this is being criticised by the League Against Cruel Sports and Ms Little. Odd, since neither has seen the draft Bill, as it is not yet in the public domain.
I see no conflict in being an animal welfare consultant to the Countryside Alliance, the Council of Hunting Associations and the All Party Parliamentary Middle Way Group. Interestingly, the Middle Way or Middle Path is also a Buddhist teaching that says avoid extremes. Perhaps that should include all extremists too and then we might start to have a proper debate about hunting, wildlife management and legislation that works.
JAMES BARRINGTON Animal Welfare Consultant London