Public opposition to fox hunting is at an all-time high according to new polling figures released today.
According to the report, 85% of the British public supports keeping the ban on fox hunting, including 81% of people living in rural areas.
While the results of the survey of more than 2,000 people conducted by Ipsos MORI for the League Against Cruel Sports are positive, sadly, more than 250 hunts reportedly still occurred this year as a part of annual Boxing Day events.
Fortunately though newly-engaged Prince Harry did not participate in this year’s hunt in order to please his fiance, Meghan Markle, a known animal rights advocate.
The polling figures were released at the end of a turbulent year for hunting, where the Government’s announcement to offer a free vote on repealing the Hunting Act of 2004 triggered public outcry, causing the issue to become one of the most talked about during the election.
The Hunting Act 2004 is the law which bans chasing wild mammals with dogs in England and Wales, which basically means that fox hunting, deer hunting, hare hunting, hare coursing and mink hunting are all illegal.
A League Against Cruel Sports study estimates that the Hunting Act 2004 has helped over 100,000 animals, including foxes, hares, and deer, but increasing amounts of evidence suggest that since hunting with dogs was outlawed, most of the hunts in England and Wales have been held illegally by abusing exemptions and using “trail hunting” as a cover.
Trail hunting purports to mimic traditional hunting by following a scent trail. The questionable basis of trail hunting is that “those laying the trail are not meant to tell those controlling the hounds where the scent has been laid, so if the hounds end up following a live animal scent, the hunt can claim that they did not know.”
“With 85 per cent of the public saying they do not want fox hunting made legal again, there has never been a better time to strengthen the Hunting Act and bring an end to the illegal persecution of wildlife still going on under the guise of ‘trail’ hunting,” stated Director of Policy, Communications and Campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports, Chris Luffingham. “The realities of trail hunting have been well and truly exposed this year and the extent to which foxes, hares and deer are still being chased and killed has really shocked people. Time and time again hunts are getting away with circumventing the law and that needs to stop.”
“During 2017, we’ve seen the Government make some great steps in terms of its commitment to animal welfare, and as we move into 2018, we’d like to see a strengthening of the Hunting Act as part of this commitment,” continued Luffingham. “There is overwhelming support for the ban on hunting; now it’s time for improved legislation to put an end to wildlife suffering in the name of ‘sport’ once and for all.”
The League Against Cruel Sports is recommending four amendments to the Hunting Act in England and Wales, to ensure that animals are properly protected:
The use of dogs below ground should be prohibited.
A ‘reckless’ provision should be inserted to stop hunters using the false alibi of ‘trail’ hunting.
Sentencing powers should be increased.
The Observation and Research exemption abused by stag hunts should be removed.