Wildlife campaigner Bill Oddie OBE has backed calls for political parties to secure the fox hunting ban and strengthen the law which is routinely being flouted by hunters.

The TV personality, who is also patron of leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports, urged political parties spending this weekend finalising their manifestos to commit to much tougher hunting laws, including prison sentences for people convicted of fox hunting offences.

Bill’s comments mirror independent polling conducted by YouGov, commissioned by the League, which shows voters from all the main political parties support the introduction of custodial sentences those convicted of fox hunting.

Tens of thousands of members of the public are expected to echo Bill’s message and contact candidates in the next few weeks to seek their views on fox hunting in response to a campaign launched by the League calling on all parties to strengthen the Hunting Act.

Bill Oddie said:

Two years ago, Theresa May learned on the doorsteps that an attempt to repeal the Hunting Act directly cost her valuable seats, as public opinion showed irrefutably via the ballot box that hunting has no place in a modern Britain.

“It is now time for political parties to not only to secure the Hunting Act but to strengthen it; to ensure there can be no excuses for harming wild animals for ‘sport’.”

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

“Fourteen years after the Hunting Act came into force there are  still 191 fox hunts in Britain, which means there is almost  10,700 hunting days in every year. Foxes are as at risk of being hunted and killed for ‘sport’ now than they have ever been.

“Political parties should commit to closing the loopholes and removing the exemptions that the fox hunts are currently exploiting and to back this up with an effective deterrent – giving courts the chance to not just fine but imprison those convicted of hunting offences.”

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

Trail hunting was invented after the ban and purports to mimic traditional fox hunting but with the hounds following a laid scent, often fox urine, rather than a live animal.  However, the way in which they hunt, including encouraging hounds to enter areas likely to contain foxes, means it is all but impossible that they won’t come across live animals.

The League Against Cruel Sports is calling for a recklessness clause to be included in the Act to prevent the use of trail hunting as an excuse in court.

-ENDS- 

 

Notes to editors

Pictured: Bill Oddie OBE, broadcaster and patron of the League Against Cruel Sports

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, 1 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.

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

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+).

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.

Trail hunting has been widely dismissed as a fraudulent activity that is being used as a cover up for fox hunting. Judge Michael Pert QC described the conduct of members of the Fernie Hunt as a ‘cynical subterfuge’ when they used trail hunting as an excuse to disguise the fact they were hunting a fox, in an unsuccessful appeal in 2011.

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).