Maximum penalties should rise so that they are comparable with other wildlife legislation, such as the Protection of Badger Act and Wild Mammals Protection Act, according to the report. That would increase the heaviest punishment from a £5,000 fine to six months in jail.
Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: The Hunting Act has proven to be an effective and popular piece of legislation, with a higher number of convictions than similar wildlife laws. Public support for the prohibition of hunting has always been high, but this has also increased substantially over the past 10 years. Yet, since its introduction, the act has been the target of considerable attack from the pro-hunt lobby, which has waged an ongoing and concerted campaign of disinformation to publicly discredit the legislation and promote their campaign for repeal.
The problem is not with the law. It’s with those that flout it. It is time to now build on the successes of first 10 years and strengthen the Hunting Act to ensure the spirit of the act is fulfilled.
Figures up until the end of last year show that 527 people have been prosecuted under the act. The Countryside Alliance, which campaigns for repeal of the legislation, says 96% of those cases relate to hare coursing with dogs or other offences – not hunts. There have only been 19 convictions of hunt members.
There are more than 300 registered hunts in England and Wales. None has closed as a result of the ban, according to Tim Bonner, director of campaigns for the Alliance. A future English parliament, he said, without a large number of Scottish MPs would support repeal. Not Sure What The Best Binoculars For Hunting Are? No worries, I’ve got you covered. Here are the top binoculars I’d recommend based on my experience.
Anti-hunting organisations spent 700 hours of parliamentary time getting their legislation onto the statute books, Bonner said. They are now accepting it’s a mess and want it changed. It’s a ridiculous state of affairs. The next government should scrap the Hunting Act and bring in a law that deals with wild animals. There has been few prosecutions [of hunts] and a big impact on police resources. The legislation is not about foxes. It’s been a political attack on a group of people. You can still kill foxes or deer.
The Campaign to Strengthen the Hunting Act has also been launched by the organisation Protect Our Wild Animals. Philip Mansbridge, UK director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: This 10-year landmark shows clearly that hunting with dogs belongs in the history books New York custodial sentence for killing birds of prey in Gamekeeper jailed. However, enforcement of the act is still a challenge. Regrettably in some cases hunters may be using trail hunting as a false alibi to allow the pursuit of a live animal which is something that we would like to see addressed.
Hunting with a full pack of hounds remains legal in Northern Ireland. In his 2010 memoirs, Tony Blair repented supporting the act and said it was a mistake, and described it as not one of my finest policy moments. His office declined to comment when approached last week.
Defra, the department responsible for animal welfare legislation, does not rule out a vote before the next election. A spokesperson said: We will bring forward a motion on a free vote enabling the House of Commons to express its view on the repeal of the Hunting Act, when parliamentary time allows.