Modern Poaching

Yesterday’s i newspaper had a horrific article on modern poaching, carried out by organised gangs who intimidate people in the countryside and who seem to enjoy seeing animals, including their own dogs, suffer horrific injuries in the name of so-called sport.

Poaching has a long and proud tradition in these islands, of ordinary people taking an animal for the pot out of necessity or as a sign of their independence, or a protest against rich landowners. I was fascinated by a couple of men interviewed, not anonymously, as part of the article. This ties in with my research on wife selling and the value of women:

“It’s our tradition’

John O’Donagh is a 35 year-old traveller and hare courser from Kent

“For Travellers, coursing is a tradition that goes back hundreds of hears since the days when we lived in tents, before wagons and caravans. It’s in our folklore.

For a traveler having a good dog is like having a thoroughbred horse. The betting and money changing hands has blown out of all proportion. A good dog can earn a man hundreds of thousands. Star dogs are worth between £30,000 and £50,000 and I’ve heard of people making £500,000 a year on betting.

There are cars, vans and trailers bet on it. You’ll even bet your wife on it. A good dog is more important to a Traveler than a wife and a Traveller will kill you for his dog. 

Travellers will never show the outside world hare coursing. It’s organised over the phone and by word of mouth. you’ll get lads in vans because too many cars look suspicious. There will only be a referee along to make sure it’s done fairly. Each man will carry £100 in cash. Bets are honoured. If you don’t pay, it’s a disgrace to you and your family name.

A good hare can run a dog until the dog has a heart attack because the dog won’t stop. The cruelty of it is that if he dog is no good it is left there. The farmers can usually do nothing because there can be up to 20 boys involved. It was banned but that makes no difference – Travellers will do it anyway. It’s in our blood.

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