Wildlife charities and public figures ‎have called on all political parties to maintain laws which ban foxes, hares, deer and other wild animals from being hunted for sport. 
 
There are fears that the election could deliver a majority of MPs in favour of hunting and over-turning the ban for the very first time since the Hunting Act came into law – in spite of the fact that the vast majority of people in England and Wales want to keep the ban.
 
In a statement published today as a letter in The Guardian, animal welfare charities and stars called on all party leaders “not only to rule out any repeal, weakening or substitution of the Hunting Act - but also to support its strengthening and enforcement.”
 
The letter, the signatories of which included the League Against Cruel Sports, RSPCA, IFAW, Save Me Trust, Brian May, Peter Egan, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Chris Packham and League Against Cruel Sports President Bill Oddie OBE, also said:
 
“The Hunting Act is one of the most popular pieces of legislation on the statute book today. We’re asking party leaders to send a clear, unambiguous message at this election that they fully intend to preserve Britain's great natural heritage, and ensure that cruelty to animals in the name of 'sport' remains firmly in the past.”

Ipsos-Mori polling has consistently shown a majority of people opposed to legalising hunting over several years. The most recent polling and projections taken in 20161 showed:
 
⦁ 84 per cent of people in England and Wales support the ban on fox hunting – a record high
⦁ 82% of people in rural areas support the ban on fox hunting
⦁ Opposition to legalising deer hunting (88%) and hare hunting and coursing (91%) was even stronger.
 
Projections indicated that the vast majority of people in all 570 constituencies across England and Wales were likely to be in favour of keeping the ban on fox hunting. These include 80% in Theresa May’s (Maidenhead), and 88% in Jeremy Corbyn’s (Islington North).
 
Polling also showed that the proportion of people who would back an anti-hunting candidate over a pro-hunting one is seven to one.
 
Eduardo Goncalves, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said:
 
“Support for the current hunting ban is unmatched by almost any other policy in terms of popularity. These are the sorts of polling figures politicians can normally only dream of.

“The data on voting preferences is also extraordinary. It would spell possible political suicidal for any candidate to ignore them. MPs are there to represent their constituents – and on this issue, the view of voters couldn’t be clearer.

“In this election people are expecting politicians to focus on issues such as the NHS and getting the best ‎possible Brexit deal from EU. They don’t want the government wasting time on pandering to a tiny if influential minority who are the only ones who think hunting wild animals for entertainment belongs in 21st century Britain.”

The letter to the Guardian was also signed by: Jeremy Cooper, Chief Executive, RSPCA; Anne Brummer, CEO, Save Me Trust; Philip Mansbridge, Director, IFAW-UK.


- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

Please contact the League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected] for any image, comment or interview requests

1. Ipsos MORI interviewed a nationally representative quota sample of 1,986 adults in Great Britain aged 15+. Interviews were carried out face-to-face, in home, using CAPI (Computer Aided Personal Interviewing Laptops), as part of the Ipsos MORI Omnibus (Capibus). Fieldwork was conducted between 2nd and 11th August 2016. The results have been weighted to reflect the known profile of the adult population.

Participants were asked the following questions:

Question 1. Now a question about sports where animals are set on other animals to fight or kill them. These activities are currently illegal in Great Britain. For each one I read out, please tell me whether you think it should or should not be made legal again. Just read out the letter that applies in each case. (The order respondents were asked about each activity was rotated)

Fox Hunting; Deer Hunting; Hare Hunting and Coursing; Dog fighting; Badger baiting.
- Yes, should be made legal again         
- No, should not be made legal again
- Don’t Know

2. Projections – technical note:
Projections have been made from the national survey and other constituency-level data from the ONS and other sources to indicate the expected distribution of opinions in each constituency, given the demographic and political characteristics of that constituency, estimating the opinions of each group of the population from the answers given by similar respondents in the national survey. The projection relies only on the following characteristics of individuals and their local areas which were measured in the survey and for which reliable figures exist on the differences between constituencies:

1. rurality: whether participants live in a rural or an urban area (as defined by ONS)
2. how they voted at the last general election,
3. age
4. gender,
5. educational attainment

The analysis makes the assumption that after weighting for these factors, correcting for other differences between constituencies would make no additional impact on people’s views.

In practical terms, the projection is calculated by weighting the dataset from the national survey to match the rural/urban profile and political and demographic characteristics of the individual constituency on those chosen variables. In other words, knowing the age, gender and educational profile of the constituency, what proportion of its adult population live in rural areas and how it voted at the 2015 general election, we calculate what we would expect opinion in that constituency to be assuming that the opinions of people there are the same as those of similar people by age, gender, education, 2015 vote and rurality, at the national level across England and Wales.  When it is necessary to weight the data, the ‘effective sample size’ (the number used to calculate the scale of the likely sampling variation) is reduced and the ‘margin of error’ is increased. Because the projections for constituencies rely on weighting the national data to the local profile, the effective base size for each projection differs, being lowest in those constituencies whose characteristics are most different from those of the country as a whole. The smallest effective base size for these projections is 154 for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and the largest is 1,528 for Stroud. 
It is important to note that the survey makes no direct measurement at constituency level, and no attempt is made to account for any specific local circumstances that may affect the state of public opinion in these projections.

3. The full text of the letter in the Guardian reads:

Sir,

As party leaders prepare to sign off on their election manifestos, we would like to draw their attention to a policy that has the overwhelming support of the British public.

While 52% of British people voted to leave the EU, 84% of people want the ban on hunting foxes to stay, according to the latest Ipsos MORI data. In addition, 88% support the ban on deer-hunting, and 91% back the ban on hunting hares. Support for the ban among people in the countryside is at similar levels.

Ipsos MORI projections indicate there is a clear majority in favour of the ban in every constituency in England and Wales, including that of all party leaders, and that voters view more favourably those candidates who support the ban by a margin of more than 7 to 1 over those who want the ban repealed.

We call on all party leaders not only to rule out any repeal, weakening or substitution of the Hunting Act - but also to support its strengthening and enforcement.

The Hunting Act is one of the most popular pieces of legislation on the statute book today. We’re asking party leaders to send a clear, unambiguous message at this election that they fully intend to preserve Britain's great natural heritage, and ensure that cruelty to animals in the name of 'sport' remains firmly in the past.

Yours faithfully,

Eduardo Goncalves, Chief Executive, League Against Cruel Sports; Jeremy Cooper, Chief Executive, RSPCA; Anne Brummer, CEO, Save Me Trust; Philip Mansbridge, Director, IFAW-UK; Bill Oddie OBE, President of the League Against Cruel Sports; Dr Brian May, Founder Save Me Trust; Chris Packham; Sir Ranulph Fiennes; Peter Egan

4. The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).