Calls for England and Wales to follow Scotland by consulting on ‘real hunting ban’

A leading animal welfare charity has called for England and Wales to follow Scotland in progressing ‘a real hunting ban’.

The League Against Cruel Sports has made the call as lawmakers north of the border launch a public consultation to improve protection and conservation of wild animals, including measures to end the use of dogs in the hunting of wild mammals.

Foxes, deer and hare are still being targeted by hunts in England and Wales – despite the blood sport being made illegal in 2004. Many thousands of animals are still being chased to exhaustion across the countryside before, on some occasions, being torn apart in the jaws of hunting hounds or shot for retrieval of ‘trophies’. Similar takes place in Northern Ireland, where hunting remains legal.

However, when prosecutions are brought technicalities and exemptions are often put up by hunts in defence, resulting in cases being dropped. On occasions where prosecutions are secured sentences are woefully lenient.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Scottish lawmakers are rightly moving forward with a real ban on hunting wild animals with packs of hounds whilst, in contrast, hunting packs in England and Wales are chasing down and tearing up wildlife seemingly with impunity. Worse still, in Northern Ireland hunting remains completely legal.

“We should be united in our desire to give wildlife the protection it so desperately needs and rightly deserves, instead of inconsistently leaving animals to be targeted and killed for entertainment by hunts in some parts of the union and not others.

“It’s time the rest of the UK followed Scotland in taking steps forward to bring about a real hunting ban as a matter of urgency.”

The League has gathered 268 reports of illegal hunting activity and 43 reports of fox kills during the last hunting season, which ran from September 2018 – April 2019.

Separately, 129 cases of fox cub hunting were received by the League last Autumn. This is a practice where the hounds are trained to kill in the run-up to the fox hunting season – by being let loose in woodland to target vulnerable fox cubs and literally tear them to pieces.

One of the three stag hunts operating in the South West of England boasts of chasing 285 red deer with staghounds to the point of exhaustion across the Exmoor countryside each year.

Once the lengthy pursuit of deer has come to an end, each of the animals receives a bullet through its body from a shotgun-wielding huntsman, before the animals’ limbs and innards are carved up and handed out as trophies.

Chris Luffingham added:

“Hunting wild animals with packs of hounds is a horrendously cruel and brutal activity which needs to be consigned to the history books.

“The British public is overwhelming in their opposition to wildlife being targeted and killed by hunts – with at least 85% of people backing a ban.

“It is clear the British public expect nothing less than for current legislation to be strengthened and prison sentences introduced for illegal hunting to effectively stamp out this cruelty wherever it takes place.”

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