Updated: Wednesday, 3rd June 2020 @ 3:06pm

Hunting ban, 10 years on: Four in five Brits say 'barbaric pastime' should remain illegal

Hunting ban, 10 years on: Four in five Brits say 'barbaric pastime' should remain illegal

| By Christopher Fountain

As we pass the decade mark since the ban on hunting came into effect in Britain, a study has revealed the public still overwhelmingly support the legislation.

The Hunting Act 2004 came into force in February the following year after intense debate within the House of Commons and House of Lords. The legislation criminalised the hunting of foxes, hare and deer with dogs for sport.

Liberal Democrat Mark Hunter, who has represented Cheadle since 2005, joined forces with animal welfare charities to celebrate the ban’s continued success and support.

Mark Hunter MP said: “I am delighted to celebrate the Hunting Act ten years on from when it first came into force. As a society we decided to protect animal welfare and I am delighted that the Act has been so successful. I look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries of this important legislation.”

But far from dying out, the tradition of hunting has grown, with 45,000 people regularly taking part and a quarter of a million heading out across the country for the most recent Boxing Day meets. 

Officially, these are 'drag hunts', which involve the hounds simply following a chemical trail scattered across the countryside, but hunt 'saboteurs' – typically animal welfare activists who go out with the intention of disrupting the hunts – claim that the murder of foxes still regularly takes place.

Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “A decade on, this important and popular legislation has both the highest number of convictions and highest conviction rate above all other wild mammal legislation.

"Many more people have been deterred from chasing and killing animals for pleasure – something worth celebrating. The problem is not with the law. It’s with those that flout it.”

A recent poll by Ipsos MORI revealed that four in five members of the British public are against the legalisation of fox hunting, with even greater numbers believing deer hunting (86%) and hare hunting (88%) to remain illegal.  

David Bowles, RSPCA Head of Public Affairs said: “The RSPCA firmly believes that the cruel practice of chasing and killing live animals with dogs is a barbaric and outdated pastime and has no place in modern Britain. This is a sentiment echoed by the vast majority of the British public.

“A decade on, public feeling towards the hunting ban is still strong. The fact remains that it is only a tiny minority of people who seek a return to cruelty.

“The RSPCA also believes that the Hunting Act is a workable, enforceable piece of legislation – since it came into force in 2004, 344 defendants have been found guilty of offences.”

Image courtesy of Marla Showfer, with thanks