High time for Northern Ireland to ban hunting

Animal Welfare charity, the League Against Cruel Sports is calling for Northern Ireland to get in line with the rest of the UK and ban hunting with dogs, making this Boxing Day the last festive façade to see wild animals legally hunted with dogs for sport.

Hunting with dogs was banned in Scotland in 2002 through the Protection of Wild Mammals Act and in England and Wales in 2005 under the Hunting Act. Northern Ireland is now the only nation within the UK that has not introduced a complete ban on fox and stag hunting.

The charity has the support of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, who strongly oppose the ‘blood sport’ of hunting with dogs. Latest Ipsos MORI1 opinion polling showed less than 1 in 20 supported deer hunting remaining legal, less than 1 in 8 supported hare hunting remaining legal and less than 1 in 5 supported foxhunting remaining legal.

2 out of 3 people believed it was already illegal to hunt mammals with dogs in Northern Ireland.

With Boxing Day traditionally the biggest event in the hunting calendar, hunts will be out in force across N. Ireland. Behind the festive pageantry lies a brutal reality of animal cruelty, an excuse for people to chase and rip apart wild animals with dogs for fun.

Janice Watt from League Against Cruel Sports Northern Ireland said:  “Hunting and killing animals for sport is about nothing more than satisfying the blood lust of a small but obsessed minority, a notion that most people in Northern Ireland find repulsive.

“With such widespread opposition to this so-called ‘sport’, it’s high time our representatives brought in a law to ban hunting with dogs and in doing so, bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

“Northern Ireland leads the way with new stringent jail sentences for dog fighting, however still lags behind on this cruel and barbaric practice, which like dog fighting should have no place in our society. Evidence has shown that hunting is cruel and inflicts severe physical and mental stress and injury on the victims. There is no quick and easy death.

“No doubt like every year, there will be posed photos of hunts and their supporters out at Boxing Day meets, however what the images will not show is the animal cruelty and havoc that hunts cause - in communities and to farmers trespassing on their land claiming to be helping them with ‘pest control’.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors:


  1. Ipsos MORI survey details

1000 interviews conducted

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,009 adults aged 16+ across Northern Ireland.  Interviews were conducted face-to-face between 16th August and 2nd September 2015.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.


Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK that has not introduced a ban on fox and stag hunting. Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban hunting with dogs when the Protection of Wild Mammals Act was passed in 2002. And in 2005, the Hunting Act came into force in England and Wales. 

  • Hares: Except for hare coursing, it is still legal to hunt Irish hares, a species that is in steep decline.  Northern Ireland has 3 beagle packs, which hunt only hares and do so on foot, and 7 harrier packs, which hunt both hares and foxes and do so on horseback.

For further information, comment or interview requests, please contact:

The  League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 or email press@league.org.uk

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