The Symposium: The Welfare of British Wild Mammals was convened by a group of veterinary surgeons known as Vets for Hunting on 1 November 2002 at The Butchers' Hall, Smithfield, London, EC1.
The intention was to broaden the debate away from the narrow politicised issue of hunting with dogs to the all-important issue of the welfare and management of British wild mammals. This issue has sadly been neglected to date by the Burns Inquiry, the Government (DEFRA) and such bodies as the National Trust and the RSPCA. Regrettably, all of these bodies declined to take part in the Symposium. It was also regrettable that invited politicians and the press largely stayed away from what turned out to be a stimulating and well balanced scientific meeting and discussion.
It is hoped, therefore, that the publication now of most of the papers presented at the meeting will go some way towards informing the debate beyond the Symposium. Papers from Professor Roger Harris and Mr Peter Green are unfortunately not available but their comprehensive summaries have been included.
The organisers were pleased to have recruited as chairmen at the meeting two distinguished and independently minded veterinary academics, Professor Peter Biggs FRS, formerly Director of the Houghton Poultry Research Station and latterly Director of the Institute for Animal Health and Professor John Webster, Professor of Animal Husbandry at Bristol University.
They were also delighted to secure a list of speakers who were all demonstrably expert and well informed in their subjects.