2 JUNE 1939, Page 19

The Extinction of Foxes On the subject of humanitarianism a

pamphlet has just been reissued, The Cruelty called Sport. That sport has cruelty in it no honest sportsman can deny. At the same time, no honest humanitarian can deny that nature is " red in tooth and claw "; the vermin and the birds of prey htmt and ItilL I infer from the praise bestowed by the writer of the pamphlet on a German achievement in killing some 20,000 foxes that he is in favour of the extermination of the animal. So to interfere with the balance of Nature and the natural order of things belongs to a philosophy that is abhorrent to the kindest hearts among naturalists. We must deal in alternatives. Killing must be done. The only question is : What form of killing should be preferred? The pamphleteer objects to the shooting of rabbits and prefers poison. That great and very intelligent humanitarian, Lady Warwick, who did more than most people for the humanitarian cause, said in a speech at a humani- tarian meeting that she always had her rabbits shot ; and approval was general. Sportsmen, of course, are apt to indulge in apologies that are intellectually dishonest. They hunt and shoot because they like it ; very often the accompani- ments of the sport give much more pleasure than the killing. The justification for sport, if it has one, is that it fulfils a natural instinct, and that the absence of it might encourage" worse alternatives.