Eight out of 10 people believe foxhunting should remain illegal, according to a survey released by the League Against Cruel Sports on the biggest day in the hunting calendar. It is estimated that 250,000 hunt supporters will attend Boxing Day events to mark the beginning of the hunting season.
Fox hunting became illegal on the 18th of February 2005, however between then and 2011, a total of 332 individuals were prosecuted under the Hunting Act. Of these, 239 were found guilty.
Nick Harvey, a senior Liberal Democrat is urging the coalition to re-examine The Hunting Act as it is being routinely ignored and encourages young people in the countryside to think it is normal to break the law.
The survey comes as members of the hunting community urge for a new vote on the ban promised by the coalition government following the 2010 general election. In October Prime Minister David Cameron said he had ”sympathy” with calls for the rules on foxhunting to be loosened causing mounting tension within the rural community.
Joe Duckworth, Chief Executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, says: “Hunting is a sickeningly cruel blood sport, which, like us, the majority of the British public do not want brought back.
“Voting for repeal would be political suicide. We need to move forward as a nation, not backwards on matters of animal welfare, which is why we recently launched our national ‘No Joke’ online and cinema campaign to remind people of the sheer horror and animal cruelty hiding behind the ‘traditional spectacle’.”
Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said:
“We have less than 18 months left in this parliament but the Government is still to make good many of its promises to the countryside – not least the pledge of support to hunting.
“Tackling the failed Hunting Act is a matter of trust between David Cameron, the coalition Government and the countryside. In three and a half years the Government has done nothing to address this illiberal, unjust and divisive law.
“The arguments for repeal or replacement of the ban are unarguable. Proposals to amend the Act backed by science have been brought forward and there is solid support in Parliament. Doing nothing is not an acceptable option.
“Hunting is a totemic issue and even a small improvement to the current situation would go a long way to persuading rural people that the Government is in step with them.”
Gavin Grant, Chief Executive of the RSPCA comments:
“The fact that 80 per cent of the public oppose the return of this ‘bloodsport’ comes as no surprise to me. As a rural dweller I have always known that opposition to hunting with dogs has never been an issue of ‘town versus country’. This poll proves it once and for all.
“The message to MPs is loud and clear. Hunting wild animals with dogs is unethical, inhumane and cruel. The British people will simply not allow a totally unrepresentative elite to re-introduce it.”
Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said:
“The hunts will be making their annual choreographed Boxing Day appearance with a few die-hard hunters making the usual call for repeal of the Hunting Act. The truth is the vast majority of the British public, whether they live in town or country, share IFAW’s view that bringing back a blood sport is a repugnant idea that has no place in the 21st Century.”
Farmers say attacks on lambs have increased, and argue that limited pest control measures permitted under the 2004 Hunting Act are not working.