Hunting Act has ‘helped prevent cruelty to over 100,000 animals’ As a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act is included in the Conservative Party manifesto, an animal welfare charity has released new figures which challenge controversial claims that hunting ‘prevents cruelty’. A new study by the League Against Cruel Sports estimates that the Hunting Act 2004 has so far helped over 100,000 animals, including foxes, hares and deer. The figures were calculated using many factors such as the number of hunts that operated before and after the ban and the changes in the number of hunt meets. The figures refer to the number of animals being killed, chased or disturbed by the activities of the hunts, as these are the activities that the Hunting Act 2004 banned (not just the killing). However, increasing amounts of evidence suggest that hunting has continued since the ban using false alibis such as ‘trail’ hunting and abusing exemptions to the law. The new figures suggest that if the Act had been properly enforced it would have helped up to 2.8 million animals. Eduardo Goncalves, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We’re disappointed to see the commitment to a free vote on the Hunting Act included in the manifesto given the strong support the ban on hunting has among Conservative MPs and Conservative voters. Hopefully any attempt to repeal, weaken or replace the Hunting Act will be prevented by those members of all parties who oppose the killing of animals for fun. "We’re pleased that the Conservative Manifesto pledges to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it, and that there is a commitment to improving animal welfare. But any repeal or weakening of the Hunting Act would completely contradict these two aims." “I think most people can see through attempts to claim that hunting is somehow good for the animals that are killed, and these figures show the reality. The intention of the Hunting Act was to stop animals suffering because of hunting – and if the law had been properly enforced we believe it would have helped up to 2.8 million animals. “On the contrary, if the Hunting Act is repealed, weakened or replaced by a weaker law, then the number of animals being helped would be zero. That’s the stark reality. If people and our election candidates, of all parties, genuinely care about animal welfare then we ask them not to be bamboozled by those who want to hunt animals for fun and are desperately trying to justify it. There is no justification for attacking a law that has helped stop cruelty to so many animals.” Public opinion is firmly behind hunting remaining banned, with 84% of people across England and Wales wanting fox hunting to remain illegal. Recent Ipsos MORI Polling projections indicates that the majority of people in all 570 constituencies across England and Wales are likely to be in favour of keeping the ban on fox hunting. This includes 80% against legalising fox hunting in Mrs May’s constituency. No need to control foxes Theresa May this week said that ‘there is a need to keep fox numbers down’ and that hunting was ‘less cruel than other methods’. Eduardo Goncalves added: “Contrary to what the Prime Minister mistakenly said, anyone who feels the need to kill foxes should never use hunting with dogs, as it is in fact one of the cruellest methods available. This is due to the long chases of the target animal involved. There is enough evidence to suggest that hunted animals suffer whilst being chased by dogs regardless of how they are then eventually killed. “There are two key points to this argument. Firstly, there is no need to control wildlife populations including that of foxes because their populations self regulate. Claims that fox populations are increasing out of control are completely false. Secondly, hunting has absolutely nothing to do with wildlife control, it is about a blood sport, plain and simple – killing for fun. “The vast majority of the public want to keep hunting for sport illegal, and it is only a very small minority of influential figures who want to satisfy their blood lust once again and make ripping apart animals for sport legal. What we want is a future free from cruelty.” The League Against Cruel Sports is running the Votes for Vinny campaign which is touring Great Britain encouraging people to tell their local candidates how they feel about hunting and animal cruelty sentencing. - ENDS - For more information please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email our press office. Notes to Editors 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 Knowhttps://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3789/Attitudes-to-Hunting-2016.aspx 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:rurality: whether participants live in a rural or an urban area (as defined by ONS)how they voted at the last general election,agegender,educational attainmentThe 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 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. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).