Wildlife campaigner Bill Oddie OBE has called on all political parties to ensure animal welfare is central to their manifestos ahead of the general election.

Broadcasting personality Bill, patron of the League Against Cruel Sports (the League), says political parties have a chance to build a kinder Britain out of the divisiveness of Brexit by committing to strengthening the Hunting Act 2004.

Mr Oddie is urging political parties of all colours to learn the lessons of the 2017 general election and ensure robust commitments to animal welfare are enshrined in their manifestos.

He said: “There is a real opportunity here to show unity where there has been division, to commit to a vision of Britain that is a kinder place for all of us to live, where there is an understanding of the importance of protecting the environment around us and all the wildlife that shares our land.

“Two years ago, Theresa May learned on the doorsteps that an attempt to repeal the Hunting Act directly cost her valuable seats, as public opinion showed irrefutably via the ballot box that hunting has no place in a modern Britain.

“It is time political parties went further, not only to secure the Hunting Act but to strengthen it; to ensure there can be no excuses for harming wild animals for ‘sport’.”

Strengthening the Hunting Act would include:

  • The introduction of a recklessness clause, to prevent the use of ‘trail’ hunting as an excuse when animals are accidentally killed by hunts
  • Remove exemptions from the Hunting Act so they cannot be abused and used as excuses to continue to hunt with hounds
  • Introduce prison sentences for people who are convicted of illegal hunting

Mr Oddie added: “I am calling on all parties to include this pledge in their manifestos, to allow themselves to be judged on their compassion and their commitment to our land and our wildlife, as well as their willingness to ensure all those who seek to circumvent these rules are appropriately punished.”

Andy Knott MBE, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We see day in, day out, how the Hunting Act is being flouted by those who twist and exploit weaknesses in the law to get away with what should be a crime.

“Enough is enough. Hunting has no place in a compassionate society and we urge all parties, in as robust terms as we can, to commit to a better vision of Britain by placing animal welfare at the heart of their manifestos and by pledging to strengthen the Hunting Act.”

Wildlife campaigner, Bill Oddie OBE

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Notes to editors

Pictured: Bill Oddie OBE, broadcaster and patron of the League Against Cruel Sports

Despite hunting being made illegal in 2004, hunting packs still go ‘trail’ hunting, which often results in foxes being ‘accidentally’ killed. There are 191 fox hunts operating in Great Britain today, 14 years after the Hunting Act 2004 was enacted that outlawed the practice. In total, hunts can go out almost 10,700 times a year – and each time a fox’s life is put at risk.

More information about our calls to strengthen the Hunting Act is available here.

Polling commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and carried out independently by Ipsos MORI in 2017 shows that 85 per cent of respondents are in favour of keeping the ban on fox hunting. Data is available here.

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

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).