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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 11:30 GMT
Saboteur turned stag hunter
Liz White
Liz White: "I changed my mind"
In the eyes of her former hunt saboteur friends, Liz White has committed the ultimate treachery - she has become a committed hunter. Here, she speaks candidly of her dramatic U-turn.

In 1985 I moved down from Buckinghamshire with my family to Devon. I had no strong views on hunting and had never been hunting at this point, although I abhorred cruelty to animals.

I then met some people from the League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs) and listened to their opinions on hunting and immediately thought the whole thing sounded cruel and unnecessary.

Liz White fact file
Age: 29
Occupation: Chef and caterer
Hunts: Regularly on Exmoor, Devon
I did a lot of assemblies at school on this subject and handed out a lot of Lacs leaflets. I then went on a "sab" mission with the Lacs and tried to disrupt hunting events and generally catch some cruelty on camera.

However, I never saw a kill. Some of my friends were hunting regularly at this time and I was persuaded to go with them on my horse to see it from their point of view.

I had a really great day, my horse and myself thoroughly enjoying the whole thing.

I hunted another half dozen times and completely changed my view. What I hadn't realised was that the stag was hunted until it was brought to bay by the hounds and then quickly and humanely destroyed.

Painful alternative

A very important point is that a hunted animal is either killed outright or left unharmed for another day.

Policeman gripping saboteur
Ms White used to side with the "sabs"
If hunting was banned farmers would not tolerate the damage to their holdings caused by the deer. They would shoot them indiscriminately and the result would be a great deal of suffering leading to a slow and painful death

In the last century there was a period when there was no hunting and the deer population went drastically downhill.

Stags are picked out by a professional harbourer and are hunted and killed to control disease and to get rid of the older, weaker deer, enabling the herd to keep healthy.

The fact that we have a healthy herd of red deer is entirely due to being hunted and controlled by the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.

Prejudice or principle

Thousands of people depend on hunting for their livelihoods. Farmers are trying to recover from a very difficult and trying time recently and if the government ban hunting they will make it even worse.

Stag on run from a hunt
"The stag is either killed outright, or allowed to go free"
It is unfair that people in the towns are making decisions for the country about which they are often completely ignorant, just because the country people are in the minority.

Ignorance is a key problem in this argument.

It also seems ironic that Members of Parliament want to ban something just because they do not like it and are prejudiced against it.

We are not toffs in red coats as so many "antis" seem to think. The majority of hunting people are ordinary hardworking, country-minded people.

A natural practise

Taxpayers' money was used to fund the Burns inquiry, which many MPs opposed to hunting obviously ignored as Lord Burns recommended licensing hunting.

Eggs in battery farm
"Protesters should concentrate on battery hen farming"
Deer are naturally hunted animals. They are wild animals living in completely natural circumstances, by being hunted they are kept as naturally as possible.

The "antis" claim to have animal welfare at the forefront of their argument. Yet if they had they would be more concerned with factory farming, intensive pig farming and battery chicken houses.

Just because these issues are not run by what they think are the upper classes they choose to ignore them.

Their arguments so often seem to be fuelled by hypocrisy and jealousy. There are far more important issues that the government should be dealing with, like the National Health Service and the education system.

Hunting is an intrinsic part of the countryside and if we lose one part the countryside and the people who live in it and love it will suffer.



Analysis

Background

CLICKABLE MAP
 VOTE RESULTS
Hunting with dogs?

Ban
 45.47% 

Compromise
 11.75% 

Status quo
 42.77% 

519 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Hunting debate moves to Lords
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
MPs back hunting ban
19 Mar 02 | UK Politics
How the MPs voted on hunting
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