In a flap over fox

SIR - My, how quickly the spirit of goodwill evaporates! Though to judge from two contributors to last week’s letters, I doubt it was present, even at Christmas.

On the one hand we had M Craker employing all the sarcasm he could muster in his ‘you lily-livered townies have no understanding of our country ways’ rant, and on the other, Mark Gold sneering at those he apparently regards as apologists for liars and lawbreakers.

However, amongst these overheated exchanges are two statements which deserve comment.

(1) The fox is not a “...killing machine, which indiscriminately kills...for pleasure...”

Like most predators, his killing instinct is triggered by prey running, or flying, away. It is man, with his developed brain, who has interfered with the natural state in which the fox is only able to kill one bird at a time, by penning chickens in and clipping their wings, rendering them unable to escape.

It is the frantic wing-flapping of panicking birds which continues to fuel the fox’s perfectly natural instinct for survival.

(2) Hounds need no training to pick up the scent of a fox, nor can a hound’s instinct to follow that scent be “trained” out of him, especially when he is in a pack, the natural hunting situation of his ancestor, the wolf.

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Only breeding could limit or eradicate this characteristic and I doubt the hunting fraternity would be willing to entertain that.

If M. Craker and Mark Gold cannot debate this subject without resorting to incivility, a plague on both their houses, I say.

J Caswell

Manstone Avenue, Sidmouth.