Leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has pledged to ensure the new Conservative government doesn’t back out of promises it made during the election.

By including the promise ‘no changes will be made to the Hunting Act’ in its manifesto, the Conservatives finally ditched promises to try to make fox hunting legal again.

It’s a “significant victory”, says the League, because in every election manifesto since the law was passed in 2004, the party has promised to reverse the law and make the blood sport legal again. The charity has previously commended the party for its pledge.

Andy Knott, MBE, League Against Cruel Sports Chief Executive Officer, said: “The League has long been lobbying the Conservative Party to keep the ban in place, so to see that commitment written down was a significant victory for everyone who opposes hunting for ‘sport’.

“Our focus now will be on ensuring the party stands by the animal welfare and animal sentencing promises it made in its manifesto, including ensuring the Hunting Act is not overturned.

“More than that, we’ll be insisting the party scrutinises the act with a view to strengthening it, to finally put a stop to hunting for ‘sport’.”

The League ran a campaign alongside the general election to ensure animal welfare issues were not neglected in an election dominated by Brexit, calling for parties to make commitments to both secure and strengthen the Hunting Act.

As well as asking voters to contact their candidates to ask for their views on hunting, the campaign saw League staff and supporters travel through England and Wales to hold a series of roadshows to raise awareness of the illegal hunting that still goes on, 14 years after the fox hunting ban.

In total, 44,000 emails were sent to candidates by supporters.

Recent polling, commissioned by the League and run independently by YouGov, shows a cross-party consensus for the introduction of jail sentences for illegal hunting with dogs. A fine is the only option currently available to courts.

Additionally, 74 per cent of respondents who expressed a view support prison sentences for illegal hunting.

The polling also showed that 79 per cent of respondents who expressed a view think the Hunting Act should be amended to ensure foxes are not killed by hunts, whether intentionally or otherwise, when they claim to be following trails or so-called ‘trail’ hunting.

Ends

Notes to editors

Pictured: An adult fox roams freely at the League’s Baronsdown sanctuary in Somerset.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,639 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th - 30th October 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Despite hunting being made illegal in 2004, hunting packs still go ‘trail’ hunting, which often results in foxes being ‘accidentally’ killed. There are 191 fox hunts operating in Great Britain today, 14 years after the Hunting Act 2004 was enacted that outlawed the practice. In total, hunts can go out almost 10,700 times a year – and each time a fox’s life is put at risk.

Recent figures released by the League show that between the opening fox hunt of the season on October 19, and December 3 when the results were compiled, the charity received 126 reports relating to illegal fox hunting.

Strengthening the Hunting Act would include:

  • The introduction of a recklessness clause, to prevent the use of ‘trail’ hunting as an excuse when animals are accidentally killed by hunts
  • Remove exemptions from the Hunting Act so they cannot be abused and used as excuses to continue to hunt with hounds
  • Introduce prison sentences for people who are convicted of illegal hunting

Separate polling commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and carried out independently by Ipsos MORI in 2017 shows that 85 per cent of respondents are in favour of keeping the ban on fox hunting. Data is available here.

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

To find out more about the League’s general election campaign, see unitedagainsthunting.co.uk

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).