Historic opportunity to ban hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland starts today

First hearing of Hunting of Wild Mammals Bill heard at Stormont

The Northern Ireland Assembly has today (Tuesday) started a landmark process to ban hunting wild mammals with dogs. 

John Blair MLA’s Private Members Bill - Hunting of Wild Mammals (Northern Ireland) Bill -  had its first hearing at Stormont this afternoon, giving MLAs an historic opportunity to end the cruelty of hunting.

Janice Watt, Senior Public Affairs Officer for the League Against Cruel Sports said: “This is an historic opportunity for Northern Ireland to end the mindless cruelty of hunting wild mammals with dogs once and for all. 

“We are delighted that this Bill has been put before Stormont and urge MLAs as it progresses,  to support the intentions of the Bill and ensure effective, progressive animal welfare legislation is introduced here in Northern Ireland.”

If passed, the Bill is intended to prohibit hunting wild animals with dogs, prohibit trail hunting, and to prohibit terrier work. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to have legislation in place to ban hunting with dogs. This was banned in Scotland in 2002 under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act and then subsequently in England and Wales in 2004 under the Hunting Act. The Scottish Government last week published a public consultation on a further Bill to strengthen the existing legislation. 

Fox hunting has been a controversial subject, polarising opinion. The consultation on John Blair’s Bill generated over 18,000 responses, thought to be the largest response to any Private Members Bill in Stormont’s history. Of the 18,425 responses, almost 80% were in favour of the proposals.

Janice Watt added: “There is no doubt members of the Assembly will come under unrelenting pressure from the small, but dedicated minority who will fight tooth and nail to ensure their cruel bloodsport can continue but Northern Ireland is better than this. 

“Public will is firmly in favour of a ban on unnecessary suffering caused by hunting and now the political will is there too. Chasing, terrorising and killing wild animals simply to satisfy the enjoyment of a very small sector of society belongs in the past and we sincerely hope this new Bill will consign hunting firmly into the history books.” 

It is expected that the Bill will go to committee stage before Christmas recess. 

Notes to editor

  • 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).
  • Media enquiries to Louise Robertson on 07930 539832 / louise@messagematters.co.uk 

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