Figures released by the Northern Ireland Assembly have shown overwhelming support for a ban on hunting with dogs following a country-wide consultation.

A staggering 18,425 people responded, which is thought to be the largest response to a consultation in the history of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The League has been supporting Alliance party MLA John Blair in promoting the consultation, which he launched in advance of a proposed Private Members’ Bill to ban hunting.

Janice Watt, public affairs officer for the League in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted that the PMB consultation has received almost 18,500 responses, with a staggering 78 per cent saying all hunting with dogs should be banned.

“Voters have finally been given the opportunity to make their voice clearly heard on the issue of hunting live mammals with dogs.

“This sends a clear message to the Northern Ireland Assembly that the animal loving people of Northern Ireland want the horrifically cruel so-called ‘sport’ of fox and stag hunting banned once and for all.

“Almost 80 per cent fully support banning terrier work, which inflicts some of the worst cruelty to animals associated with hunting.”

The League is now calling on the Assembly to ensure the wording of the bill makes it a robust piece of legislation, closing the loopholes that allow hunts to get away with killing wild mammals in Scotland, England and Wales despite bans being in place there.

Janice added: “We’ve been lobbying the Northern Ireland Assembly for cross party support on this issue for years and Mr Blair’s proposed Private Member’s Bill has now presented the Assembly with a monumental and unique opportunity to completely outlaw hunting with dogs by supporting a full ban and establishing robust and enforceable legislation.”

The consultation figures reflect independent polling commissioned by the League and carried out independently by Survation in 2019.

It showed that 84 per cent of people want to see stag hunting banned, 76 per cent of people want to see fox hunting banned, the same amount want to see hare hunting banned, and only 26 per cent realised hunting with dogs is still legal – the majority thinking it has already been outlawed.

There are three main types of hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland:

  • commonly referred to as fox huntinghare hunting or stag hunting, hunts ride out on horseback or follow on foot with a pack of hounds to track, chase, attack and kill the hunted animal
  • terrier work, which involves individuals putting terriers into a hole in the ground to ‘flush out’ or force a wild animal to flee and then kill it
  • individuals using dogs such as lurchers to chase and kill hares.

To find out more, see www.league.org.uk/ban-hunting-ni

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Notes to Editors

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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).