New polling of rural residents in England and Wales shows ‘countryside values’ are based on respect for nature – not killing for sport

People living in the countryside have overwhelmingly rejected the idea that hunting with dogs reflects their values and spend far more time watching wildlife rather than killing it, new polling figures released today reveal.

Polling carried out by Survation and commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports found that over nine out of ten (91%) rural residents think that observing nature reflects countryside values, while only one in six (16%) believe hunting with dogs reflects countryside values.

It found that very few people living in the countryside took part in the hunting of foxes, deer and hare with packs of hounds – only 4% said they ever participate in hunting, compared to 63% who observe wildlife at least once a month; 59% who take part in walking or hiking at least once a month; 39% who participate in running, cycling or horse riding at least once a month; and 52% who visit pubs at least once a month.

The release of the polling figures coincides with Boxing Day hunt meets which are coming under increasing scrutiny by local councils and animal welfare campaigners concerned at the targeting of British wildlife. 

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

“Hunting is claimed by a minority to be a cornerstone of country life, yet it is revealing that people living in the countryside get far more enjoyment from watching wildlife rather than killing it.

“Modern day countryside values are based around respect for nature, not the abuse of nature for entertainment. This polling confirms that we are a nation of animal lovers and that hunting needs to be consigned to history.”

The polling comes at the end of a turbulent year for hunting after the Government abandoned plans for a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act due to the unpopularity of the measure.

Campaigners are now calling for the strengthening of the Hunting Act to ensure that loopholes exploited by the hunts are closed and that there are stronger deterrents including prison sentences for people convicted of illegal hunting.

Chris Luffingham added:

“Despite hunting with dogs being banned in 2004, it is sadly all too commonplace for hunts to still chase and kill foxes, hare and deer – we’ve had over 100 reports of suspected illegal hunting since the beginning of the hunting season in November.

“The ‘traditional’ Boxing Day meets of the hunts gloss over the otherwise murky world of animal cruelty in which packs of hounds still literally tear apart their quarry of British wildlife – but the tide is turning and the hunts themselves are now an increasingly isolated and out of touch minority within the countryside.”

Petition

A League petition called ‘Stop the killing of animals by hunts in the UK’ attracted over 100,000 signatures and was handed into Downing Street last week.

League Against Cruel Sports President and naturalist and TV presenter Bill Oddie joined League CEO Andy Knott MBE for the hand-in.

BBC exposes a hunt ‘training hounds to kill fox cubs’

The BBC exposed the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt on its Radio 4 PM programme last week after it was caught chasing and killing baby foxes.

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Notes to Editors

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

The polling took place in early December 2018 with a sample size of 1,072 people aged over 18 living in rural areas in England and Wales.

Full details and tables available here:

https://www.survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/LACS-Tables.xlsx.

Photos of Bill Oddie handing in the League Against Cruel Sports petition are available on request.

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).;