THE shooting dead of three young fox cubs which were found on Clandeboye Golf Club at the weekend, has been roundly condemned.
    The cubs were discovered in the early hours of Saturday morning by a club member, lying within a metre of each other on the club’s Ava course. It is believed the cubs were just a few months old and had been shot with a high-powered air rifle.
    The body of a fourth cub was found nearby on Monday along with the decomposing body of a deer.
    A senior member of Clandeboye Golf Club, local politicians and animal welfare groups have strongly condemned the incident.
    Andrew Adair, the manager at Clandeboye Golf Club, labelled the action ‘horrendous’.

    “We got in contact with a wildlife trust group and we have since been talking to a couple of people from the USPCA over the last couple of days,” he said.

    “It is probably in the dark hours that this is happening as the golf course is busy right through to sundown.

    “They foxes do no harm to our course whatsoever. It is a beautiful place. You can see deer running around, and it’s all part of the Clandeboye experience. We find what has happened horrendous.

    “We have no association with this [the shooting] and we find it absolutely disgusting. We will do anything possible from our end to try and prevent this happening in the future,” added Mr Adair.
    The chief executive of the USPCA, Nora Smith, described the incident as ‘cruel and barbaric’.
    She questioned how anyone could carry out such a senseless act on four defenceless animals.
    Ms Smith said the person or people behind the incident had only strengthened the charity’s resolve in getting greater protection for the animals in Northern Ireland.
    Ms Smith said the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland would be outraged by the shooting of young foxes.
    North Down MLA, Alex Easton, strongly condemned the incident.
    “I am totally disgusted and angered to hear the news that these fox cubs have just been gunned down for sport,” said Mr Easton. “This is animal cruelty at its worst and those involved should be ashamed by their actions and cruelty.
    Fellow North Down representative and DUP assemblyman Stephen Dunne, echoed Mr Easton’s sentiments.
    “I was shocked to hear that three young fox cubs were found dead at Clandeboye Golf Club.
    “This is most concerning given that the public had already alerted wildlife groups to the fact that these cubs were seen in the area without their mother,” Mr Dunne said.
    Green party councillor Rachel Woods, called it ‘horrific and brutal’.
    “This is horrific and a brutal act and extremely sad to see. That fox hunting is still legal in Northern Ireland is barbaric.
    “Fox hunting, stag hunting and hear coursing have no place in civilised society,” said the Green party councillor.
    The local animal welfare group, Lost and Found Pets North Down, has also criticised the shooting dead of the foxes.
    “Whilst we know that foxes are not protected in Northern Ireland, this was a mindless and barbaric act on defenceless babies in a public place and is absolutely unjustifiable,” said a spokesman.