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by hounds than in animals shot by stalkers. Blood lactate levels reached peak
levels after 5 km of chase, and dropped as the lactate was used to fuel muscle
activity. The consequence was that, after 15 to 30 km, energy stores were
completely depleted…. Haemoglobin spilled into the blood after a few
kilometres of chase. Those are the facts.
( Hansard, 301, 28 November 1997: col. 1244)
In response to the Bateson Report, the National Trust council imposed an
immediate ban on the hunting of deer with hounds on its land. Wider reaction was
more varied, and was later described by Bateson and Bradshaw (1997:51) in a New
Scientist article:
Those who felt their sport was under threat understandably tried to find fault
with the science or implied that experts, poor things, are always squabbling
among themselves. On the other hand, those who found our conclusions
unsurprising were indifferent or condescending. They didn't need scientists to
show them what was already obvious.
Challenges to the Bateson findings from the pro-hunting lobby took two forms.
First, the validity of the scientific representations was questioned. As with the
politicisation of science in the BSE crisis, arguments emerged about 'good' and
'bad' science (see Woods 1998a). Qualifications and doubt which were acceptable
and anticipated in a scientific context were seized upon as failings and grounds for
dismissal when that same scientific knowledge was presented in support of political
action. Thus the pro-hunting lobby searched for alternative scientific
representations which would invalidate Bateson's evidence. These included
correspondence from veterinary surgeons, an article by an anonymous physiologist
published in the Daily Telegraph (critiqued by Bateson and Bradshaw 1997), and,
more substantially, a new commissioned scientific study, the Joint Universities
Study on Deer Hunting. The report of this second study was no less controversial. A
pre-publication leak to The Times hinted that it had corroborated Bateson's
conclusions, and its findings received little media coverage. However, without
directly quoting any detailed results, the pro-hunting lobby mobilised the message
that the new report gave 'clear and unequivocal reasons to believe that the Bateson
Report is no longer a sound basis for policy' (letter to the Guardian, 1 October
1998). The claim provoked an exchange of correspondence between hunt
supporters and opponents in the Guardian, culminating in an intervention by
The recent research only revises some of the physiological details. It does not
even attempt to shift Bateson's central point, which was comparative. His
team found that the bodies of deer killed by hunting showed a far more
advanced stage of exhaustion and debilitation than those dying by any other
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