Tuesday, 18th April 2000. (10.30 a.m.)
THE CHAIRMAN: Good morning to everyone and welcome to the first of our seminars. This is one stage of our inquiry and to a degree we will have to develop the process as we go along. So today, as well as learning about the subject, may also be a bit of a learning experience as far as the process is concerned. We are very grateful to have the draft report from Professors Bateson and Harris. So far it only deals with deer, although we are intending to have work on other hunted species. In our agenda note for today, we have suggested that the opening speakers should take maybe 20 minutes or so to present their paper. We would then have the opportunity for questions on points of fact or clarification. Then I would like to invite other members of the seminar to make points if they wish. Hopefully, that should identify the main topics for further discussions. In general terms, I would like to follow the order that the topics are dealt with in the draft report. If I could make one plea to the distinguished members of this seminar. That is to keep this simple. There are a lot of us to whom many of these terms are quite difficult. We have to report to a wider audience and we need some help in doing that rather than complicating it, if that is at all possible. The other feature I would say by way of introductory remarks is that it is clear that we could conclude from this that lots more work is necessary. We do not have that luxury. We have to come to a view about what can be said at this point, even if it means quite a lot of uncertainty. Again I would hope that people could recognise the position that we have. We actually have to write something in something like 6 weeks's time rather than seeing this as the first stage in an elaborate research schedule. That may have to follow at some point and maybe that should be done. But that is not what we can do. We have to try to come to a view about what it is that can be concluded about this subject. So unless people have got any points to make about process, about timetable, et cetera I would like to ask Patrick Bateson to kick off please.
PROFESSOR BATESON: Thank you very much. I can tell you Lord Burns that Professor Harris and I felt that a lot more work was needed. When I was reading our draft, I realised how many typos and other mistakes remained. Neither of us have had to work at this rate before and I think you will find the same from all people who have done reports for you. In some ways it was quite good because if we had had more time we would have expanded our work to fill the space available. What we are going to do in presenting this draft report is as follows: I will say a little bit about the hunting process which, I think, is entirely uncontroversial and then look at the behaviour of hunted deer. Roger will then talk about the laboratory findings, that have been obtained by both him and his co-workers and the study that Elizabeth Bradshaw did. I will deal with the welfare issues at the end, and which get to the nub of the debate. So first of all what about the hunting process? The deer hunts, which we are going to talk about today, take place in the south-west of England and Devon and west Somerset. If culling of one kind or another did not happen the population would explode and the deer would eat out the habitat. So everybody agrees that deer need to be culled in one way or another. As far as hunting with hounds is concerned, there are 3 hunting seasons: an autumn hunting season when the mature stags hunted, a winter season when the hinds are hunted and then a spring season when the spring stags are hunted. In the early part of the seasons, the hunts are a little bit less successful than they are in the later part of the seasons and, on average, about one in two days the hunts are successful in klling. So roughly half of the deer hunted get away. This slide is of a deer escaping at an early stage in a hunt. What the hunts do is to take a few experienced hounds called tufters to go out after a stag which has been identified early in the morning, or the previous evening and chase it, get it away from the other deer and then when it has got away, the rest of the pack, the hounds, are brought up to pick up the scent and follow the deer. The deer has run away fast and probably will hide for quite a while before the hounds get anywhere near it. Then it will break away and go on running until it is clear of the hounds. There will be a series of episodes like that before the deer finally stops. The distance hunted of those deer that are killed and is about 18 kilometres. That is combining the data from both Roger Harris's study and our study. The duration of the hunts -- the mode is about 3 hours ranging from quite short hunts to very long ones. The only modal speed of the hunt is about 5 kilometres per hour which is walking speed. The reason for that is, of course, because there are periods when they are hiding and there is no movement and periods when they are moving very quickly. It is worth looking at the point right up the end, up above 25 kph. That was one hind, in the joint University study, which was run continuously for about half an hour going full pelt. So they can go fast but for most of the time they are not moving at all in a hunt. That is an important point to remember when we come to consider welfare. One interesting feature about these hunts is that the deer tend to double back and so if you take the distance between where they start and where they are finally killed, it is on average about 5 kilometres. It is much less than the total distance travelled. It does not always happen but that is the pattern. At the end of the hunt, as you will be hearing more from Roger, the deer start to visibly tire and in this case you can see in this slide the animal is dropping its head a lot and panting deeply. It will have difficulty in chasing, in getting over fences and it is much less able to move than it was at the beginning. You will see the reason why in a moment. If you just take a rough behavioural measure of just how tired looking they are -- this is what actually most people who go to hunts will see perfectly well -- you can see the proportion of animals that are described as tired does very sharply as the hunt progresses. This slide is a deer right at the end of a hunt, it is actually standing motionless, it is taken from a video and it is taken at the moment at which it is shot. Just to be clear about the details of hunts, the deer are not attacked by the dogs at the end of a hunt, they are well trained and they keep off the deer. At that point the deer is shot by a huntsman, usually with a shotgun but sometimes with a pistol to the head. Here is a deer gone to water, as they very often do at the end of a hunt, being chased through the water by hounds and then here is a deer actually being shot in water. I think that is all I want to say at this point. Roger, if you would like to take over from me to talk about what actually happens to the animals as they are being chased.
PROFESSOR HARRIS: Thank you. I am going to combine our two studies. I am going to look at the laboratory findings and I will try to give a very brief summary. There is a better explanation in the report itself. I shall consider just the two studies, by Patrick Bateson & Elizabeth Bradshaw and by ourselves. There is another study ongoing, which is by Mr David Denny and preliminary data is available from this, although we have not had time to look at this in any detail. As we have seen, the distance of hunts is really quite considerable and certainly well in excess of the distances which we might consider that deer would be hunted for by a natural predator. The questions that we have to consider are: does the intense exercise which deer are performing over these long distances result in, at least in the early part, exhaustion and lead to the deer having to exercise for long periods under fairly extreme physiological conditions? We would like to know something about the capacity of deer for being able to undertake the type of exercise which they are being asked to do. This is always a relative thing so we need to know what is the capacity of the hounds the hounds. We need to have some idea what brings a hunt to a conclusion, what are the factors which result in the hunt finishing? We would like to know what is the condition of the deer at the end of hunting. Finally, we would like to know what is the fate of deer which have escaped. These are the sorts of questions which we attempted to answer in the two studies. So dealing with the adaptation or the ability of deer to undertake exercise. The first thing to note is that they are fairly well adapted in terms of the musculature, they have a particular biomechanical form, which will enable them to perform fast exercise and efficiently as well. Within the muscles we find that they have a high proportion of type 2 fibres. These are the fast contracting fibres. On the other hand, they have a very high proportion of the so-called sprint type 2B fibres and from this we might actually suppose that they are well adapted to sprinting and have relatively low endurance capability. In fact when you look at the biochemical makeup, even of the type 2B fibres, you find a high activity of oxidative enzymes and high density of mitochondria. So between the fibre types and the biochemical composition of the fibres you have a very effective motor which is capable of sustaining very fast bursts of speed and at the same time has good stamina and/or endurance capability. We can go a little bit more into the biochemistry. We know that they have very high levels of substances (histidine dipetides) which are involved in buffering the production of acid. This means these muscles have a very high tolerance of lactic acid production and that explains why deer are able to move at high speeds for prolonged periods of time. The levels of those buffering substances are comparable to those found in muscles of horses and greyhounds and measurably higher than, for example, found in humans. Finally it is worth noting that deer have a very large muscle glycogen store in the muscle, in other words they have a very large amount of petrol available ready to power the motor; about twice the level found in human muscle but comparable to that found in horse muscle. We can consider 3 models in which a hunt might proceed. The first envisages a chase between a prey and a predator where the prey is inferior, athletically, to the predator. In this case we would anticipate a very short hunt and we would expect minimum loss of glycogen in muscle. We would expect high blood lactate, depending on how long that initial sprint lasted for. In these very short hunts we would not anticipate large changes in other biochemical parameters such as cortisol. We might consider a hunt where the prey and the predator were of equal athletic ability, in which case we would find partial to moderate glycogen loss inside the muscle. We would anticipate finding raised levels of lactate and we would anticipate now quite moderate to high levels of cortisol. Finally, the third model would be one where the prey is initially athletically far superior in its ability to perform exercise in terms of speed and to evade capture. Such hunts would go on for a prolonged period of time and the limiting factor would be the running out of muscle glycogen, more than anything else, and the loss of the ability of the prey to make an effective successful escape. In these conditions we would expect low lactates and very high cortisol concentrations in the blood. This is a very superficial picture, it is the best I can give during the few minutes we have. The laboratory findings that we have generally fit with that third model in that glycogen was depleted in almost all instances. The only few instances where it was not depleted in the muscle were in casualty deer unable to sustain the initial period of effective escape from hounds. In such cases the hunts lasted for a much shorter period of time. In these deer we tended to find the highest lactate levels. We tended to find low levels of lactate at the end of these longer hunts, consistent with lower depletion of the glycogen stores. Glucose was also low but, generally hypoglycemia does not appear to be a major problem; it did not seem to be a consistent explanation for the termination of the hunt. Cortisol levels were again very high at the end of most of the hunts. We looked at changes in muscle pathology. All studies, including the recent one by Mr David Denny, have indicated increased levels of muscle enzymes in blood. These are enzymes which have leaked from the muscle tissue. The one that we are considering most is creatine kinase. We found that 9 out of 85 deer, in the combined material from Patrick Bateson and ourselves, were above 10,000 units per litre which is a level which has been suggested might be of clinical significance in the horse, but is not necessarily indicative of extensive or focused muscle damage. The highest level seen in any one deer was in the Joint Universities study, 25,000 units, and this was a young hind which had undertaken two periods of both negative and positive exercise (ascending and descending steep inclines). It is particularly the work running downhill which can often be the more damaging to the muscles. There was an overall trend towards increasing creatine kinase activity with distance, (observable after removal of the very high levels) indicating that there is probably some low grade muscle damage occurring. But to obtain a complete picture of muscle changes, you need to undertake ultrastructural examination of the muscle and we were very fortunate in that we had the co-operation with Dr Tim Helliwell who undertook a mammoth job in looking at the sections of muscle, from 3 muscles, for evidence of necrosis and changes in some of the earlier markers of muscle damage that is loss of 2 key proteins (desmin and dystrophin) in muscle tissue. We also had electron microscopy to examine further changes in muscle cell ultrastructure. Changes were observed but did not indicate extensive muscle damage, except in one deer which, as I noted earlier, had run both and uphill and downhill and had the high creatine kinase activity in blood. Most deer showed some degree of damage but it was not extensive, it was not threatening to the general welfare of the deer, as observed at the end of hunting. We can draw many parallels to other species where such muscle damage would be observed and where muscle damage would be fully recoverable from. The bottom line (of the slide) simply sums it up by saying the indications were clinically unremarkable, with the exception of the one hind. Kidney pathology. The majority of blood samples we and Patrick Bateson collected showed a degree of reddening, indicating that some lysis had occurred of red blood cells. The method that we and Patrick Bateson used, has been criticised. In this the jugular vein was exposed by dissection and simply cut. We did not use venepuncture which we now wish we had done. We started with this technique but we had some problems with clotting. This would have been a far superior technique to have used. Nonetheless, there is clear evidence that some break up of red blood cells does occur in that there are also increases in the bilirubin and this tends also to increase with the duration of the hunt. But we must bear in mind that lysis of red blood cells will occur always, whenever any species is undertaking prolonged exercise. Such damage occurs, partly because of the mechanical disruption and break up of red blood cells but also chemical damage due to the production of free radicals which will attack red blood cells increasing their fragility. The levels of bilirubin which we and Patrick Bateson observed were of an order which one would anticipate seeing in prolonged exercise. However we do not have any comparative data for the deer in which we can be confident about. We can only look to other species and draw parallels. Even if there is lysis, the question is does this really represent any major problem for the deer? Probably not. Provided the deer remains reasonably hydrated, haemolysis will not pose a major threat, necessarily, to kidney function. We examined kidney sections partly because we had observed release of muscle enzymes along increased haemoglobin concentrations. There remains some concern as to whether or not the increases in haemoglobin that we were seeing in the plasma were something which had occurred during the hunt or possibly that it occurred as an artefact at the end of hunting. 30 deer were examined and sections were stained with 2 different stains, one of which, Perl's Prussian blue, is sensitive to iron containing proteins. We could not detect any sign at the end of hunting of any major changes in the kidney which would imply that there was any problem for these particular deer. Of course, we have not looked at the changes which might occur in the post-hunted deer, 1, 2, 3 days later. And so for future studies, which I have already been warned off against. Listed are some very simple things that we really need to still do. We would more information on the athletic, oxidative and anaerobic capacity of deer, either by direct measurements in muscle tissue, or by looking at deer performing actual exercise. We are speaking in the dark half of the time. Deer have the form which enable them to perform fast exercise, it has the right musculature but we still do not know what the changes are that occur if deer were able to exercise intensively, but under non-stressful conditions. We really do need to know what happens in escaped deer and the at the moment the most we can do is just speculate. We do not know for sure what happens in post-hunted deer and whether or not there is any compromise of any functions. We can at this point in time, say that at the end of hunting there does not seem to be any indicators of severe pathology as would threaten the welfare of the deer. I do believe that the question of haemolysis, which captured the attention of the media more than anything else, does need to be looked at again. I am not saying that there is no haemolysis. I think that this is fairly certain (and we would have been very surprised, based upon all our knowledge of other species, if there was not). There must be some haemolysis but the overt haemolysis which was indicated by the deep reddening of the plasma, I think, is still questionable as to whether this was a real finding or an artefact of the procedures that we have used. I think this needs to be re-examined using more careful techniques. That is all I can say.
PROFESSOR BATESON: Back to me now. We are asked to look at the welfare of deer and obviously this is the matter that concerns us most. I think the first thing to be said about welfare is that no one technique will lead one to judge whether or not welfare has been compromised. What one tries to do is to use a variety of different techniques and if they all yield the same sort of answer, then one feels much more confident than if only some them do. Clearly, when people think about welfare they are thinking about suffering and there is a very clear definition which you find in the dictionary which defines suffering as to have something painful, distressing or injurious inflicted on one and that is the definition which most people who work on welfare will use. We cannot get inside the heads of deer, we do not know what their mental states are, but what we can do is to when we as whether it is reasonable to assume that other people are experiencing the same things as we do? If that is the case, what criteria do we use for doing that? What we do of course is to judge from the anatomy and physiology of our fellow creatures and we judge from their behaviour. Now, if it is rational to do that, it is rational also to look at animals in the same kind of way, particularly if they have large brains relative to their body size which all mammals do. So the first question we need to ask about welfare, is whether the state of the deer is in any way comparable to a human in pain or stress. The answer to that is "yes". There are very high levels of a hormone called cortisol, which is associated with a variety of things -- not just simply stress, it is also induced by exercise -- and one of the really difficult issues that we have still unresolved is the extent to which high levels of cortisol are due to fear, distress and the extent to which they are due to exercise. That can only be sorted out in a laboratory study, it cannot be sorted out the field. That having been said, there have been now 15 or so studies done on the levels of cortisol in red deer because red deer is farmed extensively and it is important that the welfare of these farmed animals is cared for. In the great majority of the studies the levels are nothing like the levels that we see in hunted deer. There is one study where the levels are much higher than in hunted deer and we need to ask why. In this study, done by Peter Goddard and his colleagues in Scotland, what they found was deer which had been brought into paddocks -- they were wild caught deer -- and kept for several months under farm conditions -- the animals were very stressed and quite a few of them died. What is likely to have happened there is that the adrenal glands get larger, and as a result of that they are able to produce more cortisol. Also there may be some change in the receptor sites of cortisol; there may be some tiny regulation in an animal which is chronically stressed like that. So we feel that study is not comparable to the other ones we have got and we think at the moment there is really good reason to think, without knowing anything more, that these animals are seriously stressed, which is not surprising, you would expect them to be because they are being chased. This brings me to the second point about behaviour. It is aglimpse of the obvious to say these animals prefer not to be hunted. But they clearly go on until they effectively cannot go on any further. It is obvious when you watch the animals and it is obvious from the data which Roger has been presenting to you that they run out of fuel and so they are pushing themselves to the point where they run out of fuel. So that suggests that these animals are very strongly motivated to get away from the hounds. It is not a game. There are other things which I would say about their cognitive abilities. Do they have any sense of the danger that they are in? Here we only have anecdotes to go on, but there are some very striking anecdotes and some striking video too in which for example, a deer moves down a path, stops -- this is a deer being hunted, the hounds are not yet in sight -- turns round, comes back and then goes off to one side. This looks very much like a strategy for confusing the hounds. The hounds will come pounding along, get to the end of the trail and then get lost and they lose the trail. There are many stories of deer which are being hunted disappearing into a herd, where the scent gets easily lost and of deer going into bracken, which the hounds do not like going into. Even deer actually displacing another hiding deer which then becomes the subject of the hunt. These are just anecdotes but they strongly indicate that the deer do have some kind of cognitive awareness of what is going on unproven, but it looks quite impressive. The third issue is the ability of the animals to cope. Are they forced to cope in unusual ways? Well, in a sense it must be true that they are forced to behave in unusual ways, because they would not normally run to exhaustion. We know from Radio-Collar studies that undisturbed deer tend to move very little. They will move around about a quarter of a kilometre an hour and if you measure their rate of moving, they have small home ranges. Even though people think they are moving around a lot because when they see them they are moving away from people, the undisturbed deer tend to move very little. So in the normal course of events they will not move a great deal and so, from that point of view, there are grounds for supposing that they may not be able to cope. Indeed they cannot cope if they have been pushed to the point where they have run out of fuel. The next point on which we really do need more evidence is the extent to which they may overheat. We did not measure temperature in our study, the joint universities did and they have a couple of deer that were hunted for relatively short distances in which the temperature in the rectum was right up at the top of the clinical thermometers. Interestingly, in their study what happened was the longer the deer had been hunted the lower the temperature. As they ran out of fuel, of course, they would be moving more slowly; there would be less heat generated in their muscles and the temperature would come down. But it was still pretty high and so there is a worry about them not being able to cope through overheating. That is an issue which we can only speculate about at the moment but it is a possible source of worry. If we turn on to the question of physical damage, Roger has already dealt with this; again, there are lots of unknowns here. Both of us would have liked to have been able to have deer radio collared and then to have them hunted, and then the hunt stop at the end and allow the deer to get away. Subsequently we could have seen what happened to these deer. In my case it was stopped partly by local opinion and also the League Against Cruel Sports was very much against that study. In Roger's case he could not get a Home Office licence. It would have been a very important bit of science to find out exactly what happens to escaping deer. There are scattered anecdotes of deer which have been found dead after hunts. They are more often in the classical literature. But there have been cases in recent years where deer are found dead. There are many accounts from other species of deer and antelope that have been captured and then die as a consequence of being captured. But the phenomenon which got badly named as capture myopathy, implies that all these deaths are due to muscle damage. There is good reason for thinking it can happen, but not such good reason for thinking it happened after hunts because we really do not have much evidence. But that issue of damage is an important one. Roger has already touched upon the question of haemolysis we may disagree a bit on this. I think that the evidence is of quite extensive haemolysis from bilirubin present in hunted deer. Bilirubin isthe breakdown product of haemoglobin from dirupted red blood cells. Rosie Cooney who has been working with us did a meta analysis of the extent to which this breakdown product is found in horses which were run for 80 kilometres, a lot further than a normal stag hunt, there was something like a two and a half per cent increase in bilirubin. In the deer which are running for an average of about 18 kilometres there is a threefold increase in bilirubin and that is in a fairly short space of time. It takes a long time to convert from haemoglobin to bilirubin, so I think already there is a good reason to think there is a substantial amount of blood damage going on. Roger is quite right to say that, we do not know what the clinical significance might be but at least there is some grounds for worry there. Finally, the question of adaptation. Now we know that deer do not move around very much. We know that they do not have sweat glands, they are liable to suffer much from overheating. We know that they are not hunted for very long by wolves. Wolves are essentially ambushers and they will not push red deer or any other species of deer for very long. There are some cases of wolves following, particularly Bison, for much longer distances but there are no cases of red deer being pushed for long distances, nothing like the kind of hunt that you see in the West Country. So predation by wolves is nothing like predation by hounds. There are a few other predators of red deer, bear sometimes take red deer but they do not run like dogs, and again they rely on surprise deer. Lynx will sometimes take calves, but in general they are not a source of major predation in red deer. So we have good reason to think that deer are not particularly well adapted to the hunting process. As you saw, the average speed is very low and that is because a lot of time they are resting. The whole nature of the hunt is that they get away at a fast sprint as we have both described, they hide and sometime before they are discovered and then they go away and get very far. It is an episodic thing of very short sprints and eventually even these short sprints wear them out and they cannot go further. I think probably the answer to all these questions is that deer are not in good shape during these hunts. There are serious welfare problems. Now that is not of course the whole story, because if deer were not hunted by hounds they would have to be shot in order to keep the population stable. And in our work we did do some analysis of how much wounding takes place under conditions where stalkers are aiming to kill their animals but sometimes only wound them and they sometimes cannot get them, and the deer get away seriously injured. Now we use two direct methods: either asking stalkers to tell us what their experience has been, or asking them to keep diaries. Both of these came up with figures somewhere around 5 per cent, probably less, that were actually escaping wounded. We used another technique. We know roughly the population of the Exmoor deer. There are counts done there every February and a very conservative estimate of the deer is about 2,500 deer die. That is taken at the end of the winter, and by that time some 20 per cent of the population will have died one way or another. So we can reckon that at the time of calving there will be something like 3,000 deer on Exmoor. Now in order to maintain a stable population 20 per cent of that population will have to die each year and these are based partly on empirical data, partly on theory, so a 20 per cent cull each year. If we assume that the hunts are killing up to 150 deer and another 100 are dying from various other causes, that leaves 350 for stalkers to cull each year to maintain a stable population. If the wounding rate is something like 2 per cent, then you will see there will be seven escaping wounded. If it was 15 per cent then there will be fifty-three escaping wounded, and clearly those numbers are greater if we have a population which is larger than 3,000 which many people think it is. So with a high wounding rate there ought to be a lot of wounded animals around on Exmoor. In fact only up to nine of the casualties which are found each year are attributed to stalking, the rest are due to road traffic accidents and mysterious things happening, possibly explained, but they are not due to shooting. So it looks as though, again, using this indirect method, that the level of wounding on Exmoor is pretty low. What we do not know is how long the animals that are wounded survive for. If an animal is shot in the belly it will probably die within two or three days. If it is shot in the jaw, and occasionally deer have been found which have been shot in the jaw, they might survive until they are starved and that might take several weeks. So there is a dispute about how to calculate overall suffering. We need some facts if we want to really make a proper balance between these two methods of culling. At the moment it looks as though the stalkers are doing a pretty good job. They are killing the animals without many of them getting away. So to conclude, we are left with two methods of culling and to a certain extent if we are thinking about humane ways of doing it you have to choose. Now there will be obviously sharp divisions of opinion within this group about that. I am going to quote James Kirkwood who has recently reviewed the various studies which have been done on deer. What he said certainly represents my view that: "If managing deer populations with minimal suffering is the goal here then, where culling is necessary, shooting with very careful attention to procedures to minimise the risk of missed shots still appears likely to be the most humane route to pursue." This is obviously something that people will argue about, but it is certainly my view.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for that helpful presentation. Although Roger could not resist the temptation to ask for more work I think he did jolly well with my request which was to keep it in a form we might begin to understand. I cannot say that was the case with all of it as far as I was concerned but a large part of it I think was achieved. I would now like to move on to the next step which is to take points of fact and clarification other people in the seminar might have. I would prefer this not to be a stage for other people's opinions. I would like to come on to that after we have cleared up if there are any issues of fact or clarification. If there are none we do not need to dwell on this at this stage. But it is simply to give anyone the opportunity to raise those issues. I would then propose to go on and ask each member of the seminar, individually, if they have anything to say by way of comment and for their own views on it.
PROFESSOR MORTON: Thank you Mr Chairman. My name is David Morton from Birmingham. I wondered if I could raise two points. There seems to have been some work done in the carted deer. There you have an animal that is hunted, albeit on different terrain, and no mention was made of the muscle condition of those animals, whether they were hunted twice a week, or twice a month, and what happened about cortisol levels, so I would be interested to know if what has been done and what the results were. The second point is that I was impressed by two parts in the report; one is that it said the deer were dazed, and another one that the blood clotted when you tried to take it through a needle. And I wondered whether you had looked at the retinas of those animals, looked at the eyes, had they become blind because of some microclots in the retina? Were they fully sighted, in your opinion, when you looked at the histology of the eyes?
PROFESSOR HARRIS: I am going to take the second point first; no, quite honestly. We tried to collect samples by venepuncture only on one or two occasions. There were delays in those particular instances and they may have contributed to the clotting which occurred. When we started the study we were very aware of the disruption that we might be causing. Our original plan was to collect both blood samples and muscle samples at the site and this would be the preferred technique, but we were very conscious of the disruption we would cause. Certainly, we were conscious that this second study, would attract attention and so we eventually decided, for pragmatic reasons, to carry on with the technique, which in fact had been used by Patrick Bateson and Elizabeth Bradshaw, and sampled simply by exposing and cutting the jugular and collecting free flowing blood. I do not think you should take too much note of just that one observation. We do not have any clear indication that blood collected after hunting invariably clots. Mr David Denny, however, has continued and he has been collecting blood by venepuncture. I believe it is true to say, if you just nod your head, that in most instances clotting has not been a problem; is that correct?
MR DENNY: That is right.
PROFESSOR HARRIS: Was clotting time measured?
PROFESSOR BATESON: Clotting time was not measured. Can I say something about carted deer? We have been trying to get a full report of the carted deer study, which has been done, and I have seen one report which is a summary of what has been done, I have not seen all the details. Unfortunately, they did not measure cortisol which is a great pity. They did measure creatine kinase and that does decline in the deer after they are captured and go back to the places where they are kept. It should be said that the carted deer run for a much shorter distance than the deer on Exmoor. They run for something like 9 kilometres, if I remember rightly and it is over level terrain, so it is a quite different sort of experience. I think in the combined studies that we did, as Roger mentioned, we had 9 out of the 85 deer, for which we had samples, which had very high levels of creatine kinase and that may well have been because of sprains or other kinds of damage took place. Going over very uneven territory, sometimes running down hills very fast, sometimes having to dodge around. I do not think any of that would happen in a carted deer chase. So, unfortunately there are certain things we cannot compare between our studies and the Irish studies.
PROFESSOR HARRIS: I think the other point is that carted deer of course were not shot. One of the things that we have been concerned about for sometime is that in some of these the high creatine kinase levels may have been due to infiltration of damaged tissue into the blood. Bearing in mind the very high activity of creatine kinase in muscle tissue it would take only a very small contamination to bring about such high values. I am not for a moment suggesting this is the explanation in all, it may be just an explanation in one or two cases. I am fairly convinced, in fact, based upon the ultrastructural evidence and the electron microscopy that the one deer which I noted which had the very high CK level, clearly did have evidence of general and focused muscle damage. I do not think there is any dispute in that particular case. One thing I would caution still is whilst CK values appear very high; of course they are in thousands which always gives the impression of extensive muscle damage. We must bear in mind that you can get widespread low grade damage. This will almost certainly occur in any animal which has been exercised for a long period of time. The damage that we are really concerned about is extensive damage which is leading to disruption and breakdown of muscle cells and that needs to be examined using techniques other than simply looking at the leakage of muscle enzymes.
THE CHAIRMAN: Would you like to follow up.
PROFESSOR MORTON: I was interested to know how frequently the carted deer were hunted because by tradition they would do it presumably in a way that would not be disposed to these animals dying; so how often are they hunted?
PROFESSOR HARRIS: I cannot comment on that.
PROFESSOR BATESON: It is two or three times a year.
PROFESSOR HARRIS: I think it is very disappointing we have not been able to obtain the data. Patrick and I have both made attempts to see the data and see the results, but we know more or less what things have been measured. It is very regrettable that where they did not measure something like cortisol or another parameter, which would have enabled a better comparison between the present data and their data. It would have been very helpful despite the shorter distances and the different terrain over which they hunted, useful comparisons could have been made. However, we know that this data was not collected and we also have been notably unsuccessful in obtaining and seeing the data from these studies.
THE CHAIRMAN: Well, thank you very much. I would like now to offer other members of the seminar the opportunity to comment on what they have seen. You do not have to take the opportunity at this stage, but if you would like to comment then we would like to hear from you. Could I start with Dr Kirkwood and work our way along the row. Do you have anything you wish to say at this stage in relation to the paper or the presentation.
DR KIRKWOOD: I think not, thank you.
MR SQUIRES: Not at this stage. I think a little later.
MR YOUNGSTON: I think the same.
DR HELLIWELL: I think it might be helpful at this stage if I clarified the structural changes that Roger has referred to occurring in the muscle at the time of the end of the hunt. My background is in human muscle pathology, but I have had an interest in trying to recognise damage to muscle for over 15 years and have developed various techniques. When I was asked by Roger to participate in this study, the questions really were: was there evidence of damage at the end of the hunt and, if so, what was the severity of that damage? To be sure that the changes we were looking at were related to the hunting and were not some artifact of the collection of the tissues, I was keen to use a variety of techniques which is why you have heard the terms like staining for desmin and dystrophin which I have used to try and support other changes that were present. If I could just put up one overhead which I think will summarise the typical changes that we saw in these muscles. What I was particularly looking for was evidence of necrosis, and on the left-hand of those three pictures there is one fibre which is pale, the other fibres are pink and the pink ones are normal. We are able to show that the same fibre with other stains showed loss of staining which is one way that convinced me that this was genuine damage. That is a fairly typical appearance, that is medium power microscopic magnification. Each of those pictures there are probably about a thousand fibres, so we are looking at one fibre in a thousand which is damaged. There was the exceptional deer which did show more damage than that, but that is a fairly representative view of the amount of damage. What does that mean? I think it probably is just coincidence we are sitting here two days after 30,000 people ran from just down the road here. I would think if we could have had the opportunity to look at the muscles of those people they would show a similar degree of damage, probably rather more. I view this as very mild damage. In my opinion there is no evidence for catastrophic damage that would actually limit the ability of the animals I am referring to structural damage, not biochemical damage. The unknown factor here is what would happen if the animals escaped. We know from other studies that damage tends to become more obvious over a period of two to ten days after severe exercise and, although we are not plugging further research, that is obviously an area that could be explored.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Dr Naylor.
DR NAYLOR: Are you just looking for factual, or general points?
THE CHAIRMAN: No, moving on now to any comments about either the paper or the presentations. I think I want to widen the debate. I think afterwards we will try to home in on some of the questions that have been raised and some of the conclusions and see to what extent there is a consensus.
DR NAYLOR: You just want us to start bringing up points.
THE CHAIRMAN: That is right.
DR NAYLOR: This whole thing is clearly an examination of physiological changes in animals when they are exercising, being hunted, and some relationship of their behavioral responses. It seems pretty clear to me, in my background as a veterinary exercise physiologist, that these are pretty athletic animals. Roger Harris has presented data looking at the muscle fibre types, buffering capacity, glycogen storage. The species I work with almost exclusively is the horse which is another super athlete, and to my mind there are some distinct similarities there. We have been in contact with Valerius Geist, who is the expert on deer biology, and I am pretty happy that they are very well adapted to the sort of exercise that they are encountering here and the very fact that they can exercise in the way they do illustrates that they are well adapted for it. I do have a problem with this question though, of putting it to context, their feelings in relation to what a human would feel, for instance, in relation to temperature elevations and in relation to blood lactate concentrations. We will regularly run horses to very high lactate concentrations in training, they do not go sour in training because of it. We run them on treadmills, they do not refuse to go on, which they would do otherwise if they were not just stimulised, but lame. The other one is temperature elevations. High temperature elevations in these athletic animals -- these are likely to have high aerobic capacities, that is relating to high capacity to take up oxygen. All of the muscle picture points to that and so it is likely that they are going to sustain large temperature elevations in the natural course of their exercise response, as do horses and other athletic species; dogs. To relate their sensation of discomfort with that that a human will experience under similar physiological changes to my mind is totally erroneous. This also extends to the comments that the deer do not have sweat glands. Well, there are many, many different mammalian species that have different adaptations within a regulation. Look at the dog, for example; a very good athletic species, no sweat glands. They have panting levels and they are able to sustain prolonged exercise; Huskies, high intensity exercise, Greyhounds, without suffering great thermoregulatory disturbance. The temperature measured in these deer are compatible with the sorts of temperatures measured in exercising horses; so that is a starting point. Another point that came up was the point about -- again relating behaviour and physiology -- that you cannot continue to exercise further at the end of the hunt. There is some reasonable clarity in that but they cannot continue to exercise at the intensity that might be required to keep escaping with the hounds. However, the point is even when their muscle glycogen stores are depleted they can still utilise fatty acids, but that will fuel the muscles at a relatively lower rate. They could continue to exercise but again there is a relationship between behavioural responses, they turn and stand at bay as a defensive posture. Some of the young stags early in a hunt may turn and stand at bay for short periods as a sort of posturing, as it were, to the hounds. Then they will often of course break bay and carry on. So one has to bear in mind that these things are going along together and these things are subject to very different interpretations. The first half of this report is looking at the physiological changes, there is more agreement in regard to that, the second half of the report is pretty well using certain bits of physiological evidence in relation to one view on the behavioural changes in this particular species. So I just want to reinforce that. One other comment that came up in the discussion was comments on the number of stalked deer that have escaped and a few of them are found as casualties. That seems to me some of them are found as casualties. If there are a number of these -- the next point I am making here is that if there is a concern over hunted deer escaping and then suffering and dying from myopathy and infectious diseases being proposed because they are compromised then where are those? Because they as far as I am aware, correct me if I am wrong, there are not numbers of those animals found after hunting than those people doing the hunting obviously would have some idea of the locations where they may be. So those are some preliminary comments that I would like to make at this stage.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
MR SWIFT: Thank you very much. I come to this problem from the point of view of what is going to make good sensible wildlife management, particularly of deer populations, and I have obviously followed John Swift from BASC -- followed Professor Bateson's work with great interest and my concern would be that one becomes preoccupied with what is in itself a very fascinating and important area of study and research, and preoccupied not just with the pathology and physiology of animals which are being hunted, but also preoccupied with the pathology of the individual animal which is being hunted as opposed to the benefit of the group or population which is also associated with that hunted animal. And I think that in trying to reach a conclusion about what is going to make good deer management, there are so many different aims and so diverse local circumstances that I would just urge at this stage that reconciling those differences and those interests really ought to be left to local people who are able to judge local circumstances in the light of social conditions which apply locally. If we caution against seeking to decide on the desirability of various forms of control, and here obviously we are talking about stag hunting, by reference to a preoccupation with pathology or with a particular form of culling strategy, then in my opinion we might be doing the deer a disservice. If we consider numbers only, which was where I believe Professor Bateson was coming to at the end in terms of how many deer need to be culled, there appears to be almost universal agreement that shooting with a rifle is the most effective method. The practitioners and organisations consulted appear to agree that shooting by day is the most effective means of achieving the numbers to be culled. Shooting is also regarded as humane and Professor Bateson's discussion of the wounding rate, which he estimates at around 2 per cent, leads him to the conclusion that it would seem that efforts to train stalkers to high standards have been successful, and I would agree with that conclusion. But these comments which -- and this particular study still cannot drag me away from the central contention that we have that the circumstances of each area, whether we are looking at Scotland or the South-west of England, are unique to themselves and the people who manage attractive land are best able to assess whether any form of control is appropriate and if so what form that should take. If they were to make a mistake it would be the local land owner or occupier himself or herself who loses the process and the process is therefore to some extent self-policing. If we look at the South-west situation, and Professor Bateson drew these figures out for us, it is estimated that we are looking for an annual cull of 20 per cent of the autumn population, required to arrest the population growth in red deer in the South-west. But the hunts they say account for only 2 to 4 per cent and therefore the hunt cull has be to be supplemented by other means. But the fact is that this combination suits the area in many different ways, and disturbance of a long established pattern in countryside management as an ecology can lead to undesirable and unforeseen consequences, and listening to the presentation that we have heard this morning, the word "preoccupation" sticks in my mind. Thank you.
DR ADDISON: A brief question on the first slide and the first welfare principle. Does the physiology resemble what is seen in humans in unpleasant situations? To me there is a control group missing. Can it also be found in humans who are in a not unpleasant situation? With everybody that I have worked with, a diagnostic antibody can either mean a creeping disease or nothing that matters very much within a group. We need to look at the benign situation as much as a nasty situation. Would that be a general criticism of the way welfare science does not bring out the possibility that the physiology could be found in a non unpleasant situation? Would that be a genuine criticism?
THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Maybe we will take points together and I will ask Roger and Patrick to respond. Dr Wise.
DR WISE: Thank you Lord Burns. Today, Ian Addison and I, Douglas Wise, are representing the Countryside Alliance in this seminar but we are here as scientists as well in a personal capacity. The animal welfare aspects of hunting is an extremely difficult area for scientists and there is little in the way of scientific evidence, and what there is relates principally to deer and is hotly contested. Obviously, I am talking about hunted animals. I should state at the outset that the Countryside Alliance and hunting organisations are in our experience opposed to all forms of cruelty which the law defines as unnecessary suffering. We feel very strongly that the Committee should use the greatest rigour when considering what is meant by suffering, because terms such as stress, distress, suffering and poor welfare all have been used in the past and continue to be used interchangeably and often in different and incorrect contexts, and this has often led in our view to poor science. I will attempt to define stress to see if anybody may disagree, but we are suggesting that it is a mechanism to promote an adaptive response. It is not in itself a cause of poor welfare. Suffering is defined by Professor John Webster in his submission to this inquiry as: "Animals suffer when they fail to cope with the stress of life because these are too severe, too complex or are too prolonged." Scientific language usually refers to this state of affairs "as poor welfare". In this context I am satisfied, as a scientist, that hunted deer do not undergo unnecessary suffering, because the necessary suffering that deer do undergo during the final stages of the hunt is at least no worse than the suffering caused by stalking. Deer have to be culled and the only two available methods are hunting and stalking. Since there is no reliable evidence that hunting causes any greater suffering than stalking, then even applying the so-called precautionary principle for welfare, hunting should not be banned. Hunting and stalking both cause suffering. The former, of low degree to most of those hunted animals that are eventually killed. The latter, of high degree to fewer animals. Furthermore, and I think this is extraordinarily important, the contribution to deer welfare that is made currently by the casualty service of the hunts is certain and it is now in place. Replacement services which would distribute as much to the welfare of the deer are very much speculation. Physiological findings, in our view, do not support Professor Bateson's conclusions, either in his 1997 report, or in his own section on animal welfare in the draft joint Harris/Bateson report to the inquiry. I will give two examples but I could obviously go on for a long time. First, at page 66, Professor Bateson says that the chase of a red deer for average distances exceeding 19 kilometres produces physiological changes that could hardly be more severe. And that the suffering is likely to be very great. This is really totally inconsistent with the first part of the report coauthored by Professor Bateson and Harris. Second, at page 42, Professor Bateson has relied on references by -- and I have difficulty with pronunciation with the chap, I think called Seiffge in 1983 and Taylor in 1983, to support his assertion that red blood cells of red deer are known to collapse in sickle-like shapes in response to exercise. We have checked these reports, and I am unable to find any support for this assertion. In fact what the reports actually say is that these changes have only been observed in laboratory conditions and do not occur in deer as a response to exercise. The subsequent Francis and Johnson reference, 1991, referred to on page 42, also appears to have been similarly misunderstood because it only refers to the clogging of fine blood vessels in humans, not in deer. In humans the physiological circumstances for sickling are the opposite of those in deer. Therefore, the conclusion that red blood cells of deer may collapse in response to exercise and may clog fine blood vessels is not correct. Professor Bateson has also used behavioural observations in synthesis with his physiological science. We can only say that there appears to be a paucity of raw data on these observations. Specifically, Professor Bateson has generalised about the welfare cost of the kill on the basis of only two observed instances. It would help the scientific debate considerably if Professor Bateson were to put his raw data in the public domain. Whilst hunting is at least as humane as stalking, I accept that for a short period in the final stages of the hunt, a deer may experience some difficulty in coping. However, it is dangerous to assume that deer suffer for prolonged periods during the chase just because humans would do so when experiencing similar physiological changes to those found in hunting deer. As Professor Geist has explained, deer have evolved to cope with the stresses of prolonged chase. Such stresses occur regularly in the life of preyed species and would contribute to its evolved adaptation. It is likely, but science has yet been unable to demonstrate either way, that the ability psychologically to cope with the stresses will have evolved in parallel with species' physiological adaptation. The welfare stresses of hunting have wrongly been considered in the past in isolation, due to the emotive nature of the subject matter. An examination of welfare issues, of animals in general, rather than in isolation, strongly suggests that people's perception of poor welfare is highly dependent on the context. I will cite an example: it is very easy to argue that the captivity and treatment of damaged wild animals in welfare hospitals has a high associated welfare cost. This would be true whether the indices of welfare used were those of Professor Bateson or some other set of indices. Finally we note that the report does not refer to other quarry species although it is envisaged that sections will be included at a later date. We would hope to be given the opportunity to comment on such sections before the final report is made. Thank you, Lord Burns.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Mr Swann.
MR SWANN: Good morning Lord Burns and Members of the Committee, this is becoming a weekly rendez-vous.
THE CHAIRMAN: Sometimes even more than once a week.
MR SWANN: David Morton has already introduced himself, and he and I will represent the interests of Deadline 2000 today. David, as well as holding his chair at Birmingham, is Chairman of the Animal Welfare Science Ethics and Law Veterinary Association, and I shall leave it to David to speak about the science because I am not an academic. My background is in welfare risk assessment, which is how welfare is applied on the ground, and in this respect in advising the British meat industry and the International Whaling Commission and other bodies, on how decisions for animal welfare should be made. Basically this method of looking at risk assessment is to start from looking at the animal behaviour and to try and make sensible decisions, and to try and apply the science to it in such a way that you can gain support for opinions that you have made. We may sometimes be wrong, because common sense judgments are not always as obvious as they seem, but as the science develops and as the science comes alongside, then opinions can change. One thing in looking at risk assessment is the way in which any animal is killed, whether it is in the wild or in a domestic situation, should try and minimise the distress that is caused to that animal. What that distress is is arguable and I am sure that many people will debate this for years to come. But basically, irrespective of the definition, what we can say is that if an animal can be killed with least disturbance in its natural environment, then we can make the assumption that that animal is going to suffer as little as possible. And so I have always felt intuitively that chasing animals with dogs is wrong, but that is a common sense judgment, and now we have some scientific support for this through Professor Bateson and Professor Harris that there are physiological parameters which can be applied which support what has always been a common sense judgment. I would like to sympathise with those two over the haemolysis problem. I have taken many thousands of blood samples and have been dogged throughout my career by haemolysis, and I do sympathise very much with the difficulties, even in venapuncture. The couple of points I would like to take up, one is with the shooting statistics. I live in the north of Scotland on one of the big Scottish shooting estates and, although shooting is now primarily for conservation reasons and not for stalking, the game keepers and people who work on that estate were quite surprised by the mis-hits that you actually described in your paper, and felt that their level of accuracy was much higher. This is something that the organisations which I represent have always had a strong view, that shooting -- to go back to James Kirkwood's definition -- if it is done properly, is a very humane way of killing animals in the wild and they would certainly expect to have miss rates and loss rates far lower than those that you quoted in the West Country. I have one other point that I am a little bit concerned about. We have heard a lot of referrals to work on horses and this does raise concerns for two reasons: the concerns of those related to fitness. It is a little bit like taking the Rolls Royce down to do the groceries and, in the days when cars were built traditionally, you eventually had to take them out on the motorway to decoke them. Most horses are kept at a very high level of fitness, and so, if they are taken out for bursts of exercise for which they are designed, then it is less likely that you will see stress-related problems. However, most veterinary surgeons will be aware of the horse that has rested all week and taken out for a sprint at the weekend and develops a syndrome called tying up, which is very, very painful and which is as a result of the fact that that horse is not fit; it is not exercised on a regular basis. I have made the point that deer, in most studies, are a sedentary species and suddenly to be put through what is an excessive amount of exercise, if that is indeed what it is -- we believe it is, I think the only way you could humanely hunt deer is by doing it every day, and to actually build up the level to a point where you have reached an exercise tolerance level. Those were the principal concerns. Just to basically reiterate that shooting, obviously from our organisation's point of view, is the preferred method, and secondly that Professor Bateson and Professor Harris have just reinforced what we have always said. Thank you.
PROFESSOR MORTON: I think I am here not as representing Deadline 2000, I want to retain my veterinary independence!! I would like to pick up on some of the points that have been made as well as make some fresh points. It seems to me that the matter in hand is one about how animals are feeling at a particular time and that is notoriously difficult to determine. It is about mental states; it is about psychology of animals. The report that we have in front of us is one about subconscious changes in terms of the animal's physiology by and large. Animal welfare science is a growing discipline. There are two dedicated journals to it; there are probably hundreds, if not, thousands of papers written about animal welfare, and there are many textbooks. It is about whether the well-being or welfare of an animal is good or bad. That concept then embodies things like animal suffering law. In this country animal suffering is recognised in law as occurring, because unnecessary suffering is an offence. Secondly, it can be assessed and that is what the courts of law do. Thirdly, it asks a question whether it was necessary to cause that suffering. Fourthly, whether it was avoidable in any way or not and I think that these are still key questions that are on the table today. In humans we cannot ask babies whether they feel pain. It seems to me that not only is the scientific evidence pointing to the fact that they probably feel more pain than adults at the present time, but we do not simply say that babies do not feel pain because they cannot speak. We try and use other measures and that is really where I think Professor Harris and Bateson and other people would like to get more money, in order to try of look at this perception of conscious feelings and self-awareness in animals and how far they are aware of their circumstances; about what is happening to them. As we cannot ask them, one of the approaches is that we use a critical anthropomorphic approach, which is to say humans and mammals are very, very similar. I believe Dr Wise used this approach when he said that a woman eaten alive recently did not feel any pain. By the same token if we take that as an approach we have to ask similar questions of whether the Zimbabwean farmers at the moment, when they are pursued by the war veterans, are frightened in anyway. If we think they are, i.e. feel threatened by a perceived threat, then perhaps deer, because of their similarity in terms of structure and function, may also perceive the hounds or the hunt as a threat. After all that is probably why they try and move away from it. It is a two-way street. In laboratory animal work there is a condition called learned helplessness, where animals are exposed to an inescapable physical workload, and this causes them to go into a state called learned helplessness, which is being used as a model of depression in humans. It is undoubtedly true that there are some mental effects of exposing animals to an inescapable threat. So the question in my mind is coming down to one of how do animals think? What are they thinking? Do they, first of all when they are aroused, move on to say: "That is okay, I am going to move away now." Do they now go on to anxiety, being concerned and when they feel, as I think is generally conceded in the last 20 minutes of the hunt, -- where that figure comes from I am not sure, but maybe it is not an unreal estimate -- that it is now inescapable, at which point perhaps they are feeling terrified that they cannot get away from this threat. In a way this is very difficult to prove scientifically. Dr Patterson was arguing that some of the responses that have been measured like cortisol response, steroid release from the adrenal gland, actually occurs during many other normal activities as well and I think that is absolutely right. But perhaps it is a question of degree to which this cortisol is released and I think Professor Bateson picked that up in the table with Professor Harris. I think they showed that simply confining animals or restraining them in some way certainly raised levels of cortisol more than when they were being shot and when they were grazing. When they were hunted they got up to something like 20 times higher than normal. Similar work in sheep has shown that they respond to herding, they respond to transport, in terms of their cortisol steroid levels, but a highest level that was recorded in this one experiment was when they were exposed to a dog. It was a sheep dog that raised the level of cortisol steroid the most, so I suggest we should not use it as a blunt instrument as being raised or not but we should use it as a matter of degree. On that point I think it is a matter of the weight of evidence. There is no one way in which we can measure pain. There is no one way we can measure distress. What we can do is just take several scientific parameters and build up a body of evidence which makes it seem more likely that animals are suffering in that way. So I think that is all I want to say at the moment, thank you.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Before asking Professors Harris and Bateson to respond, could I just ask again whether Dr Wise or Dr Kirkwood have anything to say at this point? Then I will ask Roger and Patrick to round up their response to what has been said so far.
DR KIRKWOOD: I think it is clear here that both methods of controlling deer can lead to unpleasant feelings in them. On the one hand, being chased by hounds may cause unpleasant feelings, at least towards the end of the hunt, in a large number of deer. On the other hand, those few that are shot, and which escape, will undoubtedly suffer as a result. The debate in animal welfare is very often between people with conflicting views about which is least worst in these kind of situations, and how to reach a decision about which is the right view. It is very difficult of course, because we cannot have any immediate access to an animal's feelings, and there is a danger in that what we think is right for the animal may be out of kilter with the animal's own perception. One approach that has been developed in recent years to try to get the animal to reveal its own point of view: to try to develop ways of getting the animal to tell you what it feels is best. In the case of laying hens, for example, efforts have been made to try to establish their preferences for space by giving them a choice of pen sizes and seeing they choose. The thing that worries me about these deer that are chased for long distances is that the evidence from both Professor Bateson and Professor Harris suggests that these animals are running until they can run no more. In doing that they are telling us, as well as they are able, that they have an intense dislike of being chased.
MR SQUIRES: My Lord, I would like, if I may, to come back to a couple of points raised around the table which is what I thought would probably happen, and specifically the issues raised by Dr Wise. He said quite clearly that hunting, in his opinion, caused low degree suffering in deer and that shooting caused high degree suffering in deer. I have difficulty with that concept, because I cannot actually see where the figures and the statistics are to back up that particular line of logic. Can I say that I believe that we need to look very carefully at the results of both studies that we have heard of today. Both studies say quite clearly that deer suffer stress. They suffer stress to a lesser degree in the early parts of the hunt and it is accepted now that they suffer a greater level of stress, subject to each individual modified, in the last 20 minutes. I would suggest to you that that happens in every single case where the deer is hunted. So every single hunted deer is subjected to that level of stress. Where shooting is concerned we have heard about the standard of shooting, the level of excellence and accuracy and so on. Like most things, unfortunately, there are very few statistics to back it up. But certainly from my own personal experience I would say that the figures that Professor Bateson was quoting, in terms of injury rate, are regarded within the stalking world as being a fair assessment of they believe the situation to be on the ground. It does vary a little bit from region to region but his figures are not inaccurate, in our judgment. What that says to me is that if you assume that 98 per cent of the deer are shot with one shot first line kill, and if you assume that in most cases the deer is not aware of the presence of the stalker, which if the stalker is at all competent there should not be, there is actually, I would suggest, precious little stress induced in the deer prior to that shot being discharged. The stress that Dr Wise is talking about occurs in the few instances where the first shot does not kill the deer and either the second shot is required, or regrettably in the odd instance, where the deer may move and it requires some following up. I have not worked out the statistics quite clearly, but I would suggest to you that there is no basis for suggesting that shooting overall causes high suffering and hunting causes low, for the logic that I have just suggested. One could argue, based upon the Bateson figures, that only 2 per cent of the stalked deer actually are subjected to anything like suffering in the way that we have defined it.
THE CHAIRMAN: Could I just put one question before I ask Roger and Patrick to respond. In the case where deer are shot, even when they are shot successfully, are they killed instantaneously? Or is there some period between them being shot and actually dying? Are we talking here of seconds? Are we talking of minutes? I think I have read evidence which suggests that unless deer are actually shot in the head, which is not the normal thing, that death in fact is not instantaneous. But I do not yet have a clear view about what the gap is.
MR SQUIRES: There has been considerable debate on this issue. The first thing is, you are quite right, head shots are not recommended. The recommended area for a shot is the heart and lung area, and the reason for that is it is a relatively large area and a shot from a lethal rifle into that area will virtually guarantee, I cannot say 100 per cent, but virtually guarantee -- we are talking about maybe 1 or 2 per cent of shots in those areas which will not, for good reasons, cause the deer to die. There is, however, generally a delay -- I say generally -- some deer shot in the heart and lungs will collapse straight away. There will be a small movement over a matter of seconds and then the carcass, the animal, essentially will be still. You carry out the reflex response on eyes, and for all intents and purposes the animal is dead. So we are actually looking at a period of time measured in seconds. That can extend, depending upon whether the deer is aware that you are there or not. A shot in the same area can cause it to run, but invariably the run is limited to probably somewhere between 30, 40, 50 yards, no more, before it collapses, at which point it then dies. If you actually then have a look at the impact of the bullet, in most cases you can see that that shot was a telling, killing shot. It would have destroyed the heart or the lungs, but the deer, still had sufficient reserves to be able to move over that relative short distance. I am not a scientist -- you will have to get the scientist to explain the reason why that is the case -- but nevertheless the animal is dead. The other recommended place for shooting is in the neck, but that is only at short range and only recommended for very capable, competent shooters. You are aiming at the spine, and the aim is to separate the spinal column. In a case like that, if the spinal column is severed, quite clearly the animal is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Certainly the lower part, the rear of the animal is dead, although obviously there is still activity going on in the brain. A number of people have done some interesting work trying to determine at what point all sensation in the body ceases, all heart activity, all brain activity ceases. There are figures available in the market to indicate that. But what I would say is that although the deer does not instantaneously fall dead, in a number of cases the damage caused to the animal is mortal, and the length of time that it will survive is measured in seconds, not in minutes. I cannot be more precise than that.
THE CHAIRMAN: Mr Swann, I think, would like to --
MR SWANN: Thank you, Lord Burns. To add a further point on that, this issue was debated at considerable length with the International Whaling Commission's Humane Killing Workshop, with regard to shooting injured marine mammals that were actually at sea. What it was hoped to achieve was to reduce the time to insensibility as far as was practical, not instantaneous insensibility, but what was practical under those conditions. Insensibility is important, not death, because it is at that point that the animal ceases to be aware of what is going on, either within itself or in its environment. It was also considered necessary to do it with the least possible disturbance in its natural environment. They accepted that a shot would probably cause death by fatal internal haemorrhage, that it would destroy major blood vessels, and that haemorrhaging would be the reason that the animal became insensible. This of course is not instantaneous; you could not achieve instantaneous insensibility. What was agreed is that the animal should be disturbed as little as possible after that shot; that once the shot has been fired and the animal is haemorrhaging, that you withdraw anything else that is likely to distress it until it just becomes insensible. In this respect I would ask that we do not lose sight of noise and smell, in respect of deer and perhaps some of the other quarry species, because if the animal is shot, falls and haemorrhages in its own environment and is allowed to go into insensibility, we must compare that against the situation where noise, activity, handling -- and smell and sound, particularly, being so important to the species that we have under consideration are present. Thank you.
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes.
LORD SOULSBY: Thank you, my Lord. Just a point of clarification, if I may, from Michael Squires, who mentioned a figure of 98 per cent. Now is this a national figure of accuracy of kill by stalkers, or is it in Scotland, or in the South-west?
MR SQUIRES: My Lord, it is actually impossible to say, and the reason is because nobody has actually done the work to enable us to be able to determine those figures on a national basis. However, the work that we have done, the anecdotal evidence that we have put together, and the results of Professor Savage's report, indicates that the injury level is, in most cases, less than 5 per cent, and in a lot of cases in some areas is 2 per cent or less. Indeed we have heard one instant where the Scottish stalkers are suggesting that even 2 per cent is actually an extraordinarily high injury rate. Unfortunately, there has been no research on a national basis, and therefore we cannot quote for it. That is essentially the best figures that we have at the moment.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
LORD SOULSBY: It would seem to me, from what we have heard, that Mr Swann has indicated Scottish stalkers are much more accurate in the use of their firearms than others, but we are focusing on the difference between hunting and stalking. I am wondering if your figure of 98 per cent is still applicable to the South-west where stalking is an alternate for control.
MR SQUIRES: I would say the original figure suggested by Professor Bateson is the one we should be guided by, and I think that figure was up to 5 per cent.
LORD SOULSBY: Of wounding?
MR SQUIRES: Of wounding, but bearing in mind that wounding can actually also mean the need for a second shot. It does not mean an escaped animal, it means an animal that has not been killed or, in the opinion of the stalker, might move and, in his judgment, requires a second shot. 5 per cent in those cases, I think, would be a realistic thing.
DR NAYLOR: Are those the figures provided by the stalkers themselves because we are comparing here an objective study of hunting and we are now comparing the figures with the stalkers' own verdict. I suspect they would have their own slightly coloured view on this exception.
PROFESSOR BATESON: Can I answer that? We did use three direct techniques. Two of them involved game stalkers, and they came up with very low figures. We then tried to see whether we could get any evidence of wounding from the carcasses that were brought to the butchers locally. Although you can not get evidence of walking wounded from that, obviously because they are dead animals, what you can get is some estimate of how likely deer were to be wounded and then survive for a certain period of time. Interestingly, the experts who looked at the data provided by the butchers who handled the game, came to the conclusion that the estimates originally provided by the stalkers were reliable. The other way of doing it, which is the one I underlined very briefly this morning, is to argue that if a lot of animals were being wounded, we would expect to see them on Exmoor. I absolutely agree with the point that the same thing applies to myopathy but the issue of found carcasses has to be applied both ways round. Just as animals that are dying from the effects of hunts are not found very frequently those dying from the effects of bad shooting are also rare.
THE CHAIRMAN: Let me say in terms of our timetable, I do not want to spend too much more time on the shooting I would like to come back to that after lunch as being one of the questions that I would like to go a little bit further on. I would like to lay out some of the issues that we might take further after lunch and I would like to give Professor Harris and Professor Bateson a chance to respond to this session before we break. I say simply, are you prepared to hold fire?
MR WISE: Yes.
THE CHAIRMAN: This is the last go on this particular issue. I think it would be sensible if we now heard from Professor Harris and Professor Bateson. We can see how you would like to respond at this stage to some of the things that have been said this morning.
PROFESSOR BATESON: I would like to take up first a question of expert opinion about how well deer are adapted to exercise. It is indeed true that V. Geist takes a view they are well adapted but there are other experts, who studied deer for as long as him and indeed longer in some cases, who take a contrary view. One is Rory Putman who has worked on deer, published a book about them. He takes the view that they are not well adapted. There are some palaeontologists such as Janis and Wilhelm, who take the view that the reason why deer have long legs and have structured legs was to reduce the amount of energy that was involved in locomotion. They do not think it was a response to predation by wolves. Finally -- and this I think was an offer to the Committee - John Fletcher who runs a red deer farm up in Scotland -- takes the view that these animals get very quickly exhausted and he says it is very easy for him to run them down. He said: come along to my farm and I will show you any time. So there you have an offer if you want to convince yourself. So on the question of adaptation, I think there are clearly differences among expert scientists who know deer very well you should just take the one view. On the question of sickling, which Douglas Wise brings up, I would like to say that when this was originally discovered, it was discovered because deer had been chased. Now there is no doubt that sickling also takes place after death and that is what is in the reports that he cites, and commented on, there remains the evidence that it can occur in vivo. At the moment we do not know very much about it but it seems to be a phenomenon of deer red blood cells, which are very small and apparently in life, not just after death. I am glad that David Morton brought up the point about learned helplessness because one of the things that is very striking from the human literature, as well as from the other laboratory studies, is that the conditions are most likely to induce extreme stress is where the same cycle of events which cause extreme fear occur again and again and again. That is precisely the character of deer hunting, a repeated cycle of the animal being forced to escape, clearly very frightened, highly motivated, driving itself to the point where it has run out of fuel. So I think we should not forget that, in considering the behavioural aspects of these animals when they are being hunted.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Roger.
PROFESSOR HARRIS: I am going to start again with the adaptation to exercise. The form of the deer, for whatever reason it has evolved, does enable the deer to undertake a fast and prolonged exercise. It certainly carries the musculature to support this. It is not really an endurance animal; it is more of a repeated sprint and a good recovery level. The form of the muscles are very much orientated towards good sprinting ability but they also show highly oxidative characteristics which would imply very good recovery. I think this comes over extremely well when you look at the records of individual hunts. The distances which these deer go are enormous and there is no question that they could not do that without that ability. But it is also a question of relative ability, relative ability to the chasing predator. As long as the prey has the upper hand on the predator then inevitably the hunt will continue until something changes. I think the one aspect -- and I do not want you to see me as being cynical here -- but the one aspect which deer failed to evolve was to have sufficient knowledge and understanding of exercise physiology. Because the simple fact is that, if they were to take a more measured response to the initial hunt, they would easily outpace and easily lose the hounds if just the one pack were to be used. Now that does not in any way diminish the severity of the exercise being performed and I hear everything that is said about the general consideration of the level of stress. In the report and in the study that we undertook, we wanted to focus on the physiological aspects. We left it to others to make those sort of judgments. But it seemed to us that for a major part of the hunt, at least, deer would be physiologically stressed but not necessarily distressed; able to cope with the challenge posed by the predator, which is the hound, and it would only be when circumstances changed that they lost that ability; that there would be an exponential rise in the difficulty of repeating escapes and at that point we would see distress coming into the equation. Of course it is for you to make the judgment on different culling methods but, from a purely physiological point of view, I put it to you that in fact the stress of deer in the early part of hunting -- is to be found in nature elsewhere. Whether or not that is considered pertinent I leave it to you. I am not going to say anything about sickling. One thing I will say, there was a comment earlier about synthesis of bilirubin. I think we have to bear in mind the clearance of haemoglobin that is released from the break up of red blood cells is something that happens in all species. Deer in fact may be a little unusual in this respect in that they have unusually, low levels of another protein haptoglobin, which is involved in the clearance of haemoglobin. We know very little of the dynamics of haemoglobin clearance and the formation of bilirubin, and we are still speculating. We need far more information before we can really make a positive judgment. Cortisol was of course one parameter which has been discussed endlessly and for animal welfare is certainly seen as an indicator of stress. For those people working in exercise physiology it is seen as an adaptive hormone which responds to different states of arousal and physiological stress which are themselves necessarily causing distress. The very high levels must be due to that there is repeated disturbance of the deer and that this is causing a series of arousals. There will be a constant release of cortisol. Given the fact that the recovery time of this protein is very slow that will contribute to the accumulationof very high levels. The cortisol levels that we measure are not the total output that has occurred. The levels that we are observing are lower than the total amount which would be found if it was all accumulated in one instant. Indeed, in the longest hunts, it is conceivable that near total exhaustion of the adrenal gland may have occurred. The degree of distress, associated with stress, will vary as a result of the pattern of exercise which has been occurring during the actual hunting. It would be very nice to study this with deer being exercised under relatively unstressed conditions if that could ever be achieved. It would be very difficult. But I think we are debating, almost from two angles here, the nature or the cause of cortisol increase. We must be very careful not to get hung up on a particular numerical value and look perhaps a little wider in fact to the more general information that is available on why deer are being stressed and whether they are being distressed outside the level, a wild animal might encounter or might have encountered in prehistory. I do not think I can say any more.
THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. I think we have made some useful progress, certainly in terms of our understanding. I am beginning to identify the issues where there are differences. I propose that we break for lunch now and we take an hour and we start again at 1.30 p.m. I would then like to go through the report and look at the main sections and the conclusions. We have on page 25 some conclusions about the suitability of exercise and the nature of the exercise in the hunt. I would like to test how much of a consensus there is on this part. I think then on page 29 there is a similar set of conclusions about muscle damage. And on page 32 about kidney damage. Then we have the observations you made, Patrick, about general welfare measures. On each occasion I would just like to see to what extent we have got a consensus about that and then move on to the issue of welfare aspects of shooting. Finally, whether anyone is prepared to chance their arm on how far, if at all, any of the things that have been said about deer have implications for hunting of the other species. We might then just collect together the issue of further work. I emphasise the reason I am not keen to discuss it perhaps as a high priority in our discussions is not so much we do not have the money, although we certainly do not. But more particularly we do not have the time. Nevertheless I think it would be useful if we could again come to a view as to the direction further work would go if other people wished to pursue this question at a later stage, long after we have reported. So if you are content with that approach, I think we will have a break now and then we will try to go through each of the key paragraphs in the report and see to what extent people agree with them. Thank you very much.
(Adjourned for Lunch).
Back to top