How illegal deer hunts in England avoid prosecution
An effective loophole to the hunting ban has now been exposed.
In the UK going back many centuries which uses horses and staghounds to chase and kill red deer. However, its popularity has decreased over time, and currently, more than 80% of the UK population, both in urban and rural areas,
Hunting with dogs was banned in England with the . However, , as far too many allegations of illegal hunting are not investigated, and not enough illegal hunters are prosecuted. And now a new comprehensive report published by the League Against Cruel Sports titled “Observed to Death” shows in detail how illegal deer hunters have been avoiding prosecution for the last twelve years.
The report shows that over the years the staghounds have been trying different ways to circumvent the ban with mixed results. The Hunting Act allows some “exceptions” under certain conditions, but there is always one condition that limits the number of dogs allowed to two. So, for the stag hunts to claim any “exempt” hunting they had to invent ‘relay hunting’, in which several pairs of dogs are used in
Finally, they tried using the ‘Research and Observation’ exemption, claiming that the reason they were chasing deer for hours and killing them afterwards was
The report shows four case studies to illustrate the ways stag hunts do all this. The fourth case, the most detailed, is a 2015 case against members of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds, alleged to have chased a stag for seven and a half miles for about four hours before shooting it dead. Because of the “Research and Observation” excuse, the CPS eventually rejected the case, despite the unprecedented amount of overwhelming evidence produced (it is possibly the most detailed account of post-ban hunting with dogs ever published).
The comparison of the study cases in this report with the stag hunting activities before the ban shows that, as far as the hunted deer is concerned, the ban does not seem to have made any difference. They are still selected to be killed for the same
Effectively, the defiant attitude of staghounds, the existence of a weak ‘Research’ exemption, and the poor response of the authorities when addressing those suspects claiming such exemption, has created an effective loophole that desperately needs closing. As it does not seem the authorities are keen to enforce this law properly, the only effective way to solve this problem is to and remove the ‘Research and Observation” exemption in its entirety.
Let’s close this loophole once and for all.