Loopholes in the Hunting Act have allowed hunts to get away with killing foxes and now, 14 years after the ban was made law, political parties should commit to strengthening it.
The League Against Cruel Sports says recent figures show the majority of British people want tougher hunting laws, backed up by prison sentences, to prevent fox hunts from killing wildlife.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “How many times do we need to show pictures and film of foxes being ripped apart by dogs before the politicians realise the Hunting Act is not doing what it’s there to do – protect the lives of wild animals?
“We know that if the law was strengthened there would be a lot more hunts in court. It’s time police and the courts were given the power they need – and that the public want - to bring prosecutions, and the only way to do that is if politicians unite against hunting and commit to strengthen it.”
The League has commissioned polling, run independently by YouGov, that 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. 74 percent of respondents who expressed a view support prison sentences for illegal hunting.
The polling also showed that 79 percent 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.
Chris added: “Animal welfare and the strengthening of fox hunting legislation are issues which unite people of all political colours in Great Britain, and we are calling for parties and candidates to commit to keeping the Hunting Act and to strengthen it by closing its many loopholes.
“Fox hunting is a barbaric activity which has no place in a modern, compassionate society of animal lovers and yet it is still taking place. Tougher legislation, coupled with the introduction of prison sentences for illegal hunting will help to end the brutal killing of our wildlife.”
Trail hunting, which was invented after the fox hunting ban was implemented in 2005, has been widely dismissed as a fraudulent activity that is used as a cover-up for the illegal pursuit of foxes.
Of those who expressed a view, illegal hunting being punishable by custodial sentences got the backing of 84 percent of people intending to vote for the Labour Party, 75 per cent of Brexit Party supporters, 71 percent of Liberal Democrats supporters, and 67 per cent of Conservative Party supporters.
Of those who expressed a view, support for strengthening the Hunting Act to prevent the killing of foxes had the backing of 89 per cent of people intending to vote for the Labour Party, 82 per cent of Liberal Democrats supporters, 71 percent of Brexit Party supporters, and 68 percent of Conservatives.
Chris said: “The Hunting Act has been threatened with weakening and repeal by successive governments but both attempts were thwarted thanks to League Against Cruel Sports opposition. It’s now time for political parties to adopt tougher fox hunting laws that reflect the wishes of the general public who are united against hunting.”
The League will be running a series of roadshows across England and Wales during the general election campaign to highlight why the Hunting Act needs strengthening and why any weakening of the hunting ban should be ruled out.
This article is based on a press release from the League Against Cruel Sports.