New figures compiled by leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports show the shocking scale of fox hunting still taking place across Britain, 14 years after it was banned. 

The figures, released today via three specially-produced maps, show 126 eye-witness reports of suspected illegal fox hunting in just six weeks since the first hunt meet of the season in late October.

Fox hunting incidents from 19102019 to 3122019 by county

Of those, six were verified fox kills and two related to suspected fox kills.

The figures also include multiple incidents in which foxes were seen being chased by hounds – an activity that is illegal under the Hunting Act – or seen on the run while hunting activity was taking place nearby.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns of the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“How many times do we have to show the scale of illegal hunting that still goes on today before the authorities and the law-makers take steps to tackle it?

“These incidents just relate to the first six weeks of the season – there is still four-and-a-half months to go until it closes.

“We need to stand united against hunting and close the loopholes that fox hunts currently exploit, backing this up with an effective deterrent – courts should have the option to jail people convicted of fox hunting offences.”

The maps show a breakdown by hotspot, by the nearest major town and by county.

The figures also show 15 cases of badger setts being interfered with on the day of the hunt – also illegal under the Protection of Badgers Act 2002 – and two artificial earths found blocked on the day of the hunt to prevent foxes from escaping the hounds.

There were also 11 cases of livestock worrying by hunt hounds.

The five counties with the most recorded instances of suspected illegal fox hunting are Dorset with 12, Worcestershire nine, Leicestershire and Somerset eight apiece, and Cheshire seven.

The League is calling for three key changes to hunting laws to end fox hunting for good:

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

The figures are published during an election campaign which, for the first time since the fox hunting ban, has a Conservative Party manifesto commitment to make no changes to the Hunting Act.

In previous elections, the Conservatives have consistently called for a vote in parliament to repeal the fox hunting ban.

The Labour Party has pledged to strengthen the Hunting Act and close the loopholes that mean fox hunting still takes place today.

Ends

Notes to editors
More information about our calls to strengthen the Hunting Act is available here.

The figures are gathered by the League Against Cruel Sports from a number of sources, including monitors in the field and its Animal Crimewatch hotline.

Recent YouGov polling commissioned by the League revealed 74 per cent of respondents who expressed a view support prison sentences for illegal hunting. The results also showed 79 per cent of respondents who expressed a view think the Hunting Act should be amended to ensure foxes are not killed by hunts claiming to be trail hunting. 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+).

The link to the full tables is here.

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