DEFRA minister Alun Michael has written to all parties he previously contacted as part of the consultation process on hunting, asking for further information and in-depth evidence

Alun Michael, the DEFRA minister has contacted all the parties involved in hunting both with hounds and for game to gain more information and their advice.

This latest consultation document asks for comments on the principles of cruelty and utility of hunting which Mr Michael first referred to in the Commons debate on 18 March. The consultation also asks for specific, detailed responses on hunting foxes, deer, hares (including coursing) and mink.

The document suggests that DEFRA has received legal advice stating that coursing is not technically hunting with dogs. The object of coursing is to assess the speed, stamina and agility of the dogs rather than to kill the hare, so it could not be addressed in any planned legislation unless the current definitions of hunting with dogs are widened or a specific ban on coursing was added.

Deer stalking has also been singled out, with respondents asked if this activity should be exempt from hunting regulation.

Veterinary surgeon Dr Douglas Wise, a lecturer in the department of animal husbandry at Cambridge Vet School, was one of the recipients of Alun Michael’s original letter.

He has responded by exploring perceptions of cruelty in hunting and submitting a draft scientific paper explaining why foxes and deer are unable to experience the type of fear suffered by humans.

Read the full story in this week’sHorse & Hound (13 June 2002), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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