Northern Ireland should lead the way on animal welfare, says charity

For immediate release


Northern Ireland has an opportunity to be at the forefront of animal welfare in the UK, says national charity the League Against Cruel Sports.

The charity is backing a private members bill that, if successful, would see hunting with dogs banned in Northern Ireland.

It’s currently the only part of the UK where hunting with dogs is still legal, but whereas the rest of the UK has flawed legislation outlawing the cruel blood ‘sport’, this could be an opportunity for politicians to lead the way on animal welfare reform.

Janice Watt, the League’s Northern Ireland senior public affairs officer, said: “We’ve been the first, and for a long time the only, country in the UK to have a five-year sentence for animal cruelty, so it’s not only high time we caught up with England, Wales and Scotland in terms of hunting with dogs but it’s our chance to show them how it should be done.”

Polling commissioned by the League and carried out independently by Survation in 2019 showed that 84 per cent of people want to see stag hunting banned, 76 per cent of people want to see fox hunting banned, the same amount want to see hare hunting banned, and only 26 per cent realised hunting with dogs is still legal – the majority thinking it has already been outlawed.

A consultation is now underway for residents to have their say on whether the cruel sport should be outlawed for good. It runs until February 12.

Janice added: “We’re supporting the private members bill, and are urging all those who want to see hunting with dogs made illegal in Northern Ireland to take part in the consultation to make their views heard.”

Hunting with dogs is cruel and unnecessary. The hunted animal suffers immeasurably before it is finally killed. The dogs involved can also sustain horrific injuries, especially during terrier work.

There are three main types of hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland:

  • commonly referred to as fox hunting, hare hunting or stag hunting, hunts ride out on horseback or follow on foot with a pack of hounds to track, chase, attack and kill the hunted animal
  • terrier work, which involves individuals putting terriers into a hole in the ground to ‘flush out’ or force a wild animal to flee and then kill it
  • individuals using dogs such as lurchers to chase and kill hares.



Notes to editors

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

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