Ten years on from the hunting ban, we ask: should the ban be repealed? Michael Stephenson, Director of Campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports, says no.
The Hunting Act is the most successful piece of wild animal welfare legislation in history. Since it was introduced in 2005 there have been more than 527 prosecutions, an average of one prosecution every week. 65 per cent of these prosecutions have resulted in a conviction.
The Act is not only successful, it is very popular. Polling conducted by Ipsos MORI in December 2014 showed 80 per cent of the public think that fox hunting should not be made legal again. The figure was 86 per cent for deer hunting and 88 per cent for hare hunting/coursing. These figures are about the same in both rural and urban areas.
The only issue with the legislation is not the law itself but those who flout it. That is why we would like to make the Act stronger by banning the use of terriers below ground by hunts, ending the practice of trail hunting, which is a false alibi for hunting with dogs, and by making the Act tougher by introducing prison sentences for those who break the law. This would bring the Act in line with other animal welfare legislation.
The Act is a great example of one of the most important British traditions – our love of animals. Brought in to end the profound suffering of animals caused by hunting with dogs for sport, it is one of this country’s proudest achievements and must be defended against those wanting to return to a time when this type of cruelty was legal. The pro-hunt lobby should accept that the Act has been in place for ten years and not take us back to the past. They should respect the law, respect our wildlife and respect the will of the British people.