Illegal fox hunting is still going on in Britain – with many animals being killed, according to an animal welfare charity.
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) says it has gathered 284 reports of illegal hunting activity and 43 reports of fox kills by hunts, from November when the season opened, and now at its close.
Fox hunting and the law
Fox Hunting was banned in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004 and in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.
But it is believed that hunts routinely flout the law by exploiting loopholes in it. For example, they say they are ‘trail hunting’ – i.e. following a pre-laid trail rather than a live animal – but are still hunting just as before.
Because of this, campaigners regularly call on the law to be tightened. A parliamentary debate on wildlife crime in mid-March led to calls by cross-party MPs for the Hunting Act to be strengthened.
Campaigning against fox hunting
In addition, pro-hunting politicians have threatened to overturn the ban in the past, with Prime Minister Theresa May admitting in the past that she is in favor of the bloodsport, suggesting she may overturn the ban if she won the election with a big enough majority.
This led to a major public protest in May 2017, with thousands taking to the streets to show their support for the fox hunting ban. Speaking at the event, TV star Bill Oddie said: “This is a day I thought would never come following an amazing achievement in 2004 – the Hunting Act. A lot of us thought ‘let’s move onto another issue’. The fact we are having to argue about this again is sick.”
After May won the election – but with a smaller majority – the issue appeared to be taken off the table, with campaigners now focusing their efforts on strengthening the current legislation.
LACS films a hunt chasing a fox in in January 2019
“These figures sadly show the scale of the killing still taking place in the British countryside by fox hunts,” Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said.
“We know these reports are just the tip of the iceberg, with fox hunts killing indiscriminately across the UK and lying about their bloodthirsty activities to cover up their crimes.
“However, I believe the tide is turning, and political parties are now recognizing the need to take animal welfare much more seriously and put in place stronger legislation to protect British wildlife.”
He added: “The issue of animal welfare has never been such an important issue for the public and political parties and it is becoming vital to electoral success.
“We are calling for the hunting ban to be strengthened with the introduction of prison sentences for those caught illegally hunting. We need a proper deterrent to stop the barbaric activities of the hunts and we also need to close down the loopholes that allow hunts to get around the law.”