Stag hunt man released on bail

A MAN arrested in connection with an alleged illegal stag hunt in Loughbrickland last week has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

The 41-year-old was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting cruelty to animals in the Bog Road on March 1.

A crowd had gathered for what appeared to be a stag hunt but members of the PSNI and USPCA turned up to seize a vehicle and trailer carrying two stags.

While the trailer was registered to the County Down Hunt, the Hunt Master told the BBC he knew nothing about what was going to take place.

Stag hunting is legal in Northern Ireland, the only region in the UK where it is legal. But breeding the stags for hunting, a practice known as “carting” is illegal.

Stephen Philpott, USPCA Chief Executive, said the stags had been removed and released into a safe area. He described the practice as “persecution”.

“Typically the animals had their antlers sawn off leaving them defenceless,” said Mr Philpott. “This is done to prevent injury to the attacking dogs and the handlers whose task is to wrestle the cornered stags to the ground and return them to the trailer in readiness for another days persecution.”

David Wilson said the activity is cruel and distressing.

“Carted deer hunts are the chosen pastime of a section of our population who feel they are above the law -people who derive a sadistic pleasure from inflicting needless suffering on native wildlife,” said Mr Wilson.

“It is a cruel activity which causes horrific trauma to the deer by subjecting animals, captive bred specifically for this abuse, to a distressing ordeal, leaving them exhausted, injured and at risk of dying from heart failure.”