Today, 18th February marks ten years since the Hunting Act 2004 came into force. This important legislation was introduced to stop hunting with dogs for sport due to the profound suffering caused by the prolonged chase and violent death. Ten years on, the Act has outperformed all other wild mammal legislation and is now the most successful piece of wild animal welfare legislation in England and Wales.
Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, commenting on the anniversary said: “I am delighted to celebrate the Hunting Act ten years on from when it first came into force. It is a mark of our civilisation as a society that we 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.”
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“The RSPCA firmly believes that the cruel practice of chasing and killing live animals with dogs is a barbaric and outdated pastime and has no place in modern Britain.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.”
The Hunting Act prohibited the hunting of wild mammals, including foxes, deer, hares and mink with dogs, something which the vast majority of the British public ten years on do not want to see a return to.
Latest opinion polling carried out by Ipsos MORI¹ at the end of 2014 shows that 80 per cent of people in Great Britain think that fox hunting should remain illegal, 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.
On average, one person every week is prosecuted under the Hunting Act. Of these over two-thirds are found guilty rendering any argument that the ban is not enforceable redundant.