In 2004, after decades of campaigning and public demand, fox hunting with dogs was finally made illegal. 10 years on, the government have announced that MPs will vote on the issue of repeal in a matter of days, hoping to stifle the inevitable opposition from the public and their own party.
With a majority of the British public firmly united against foxhunting, the Conservative government also face opposition from a proportion of their own party. Blue Fox is composed of Conservative supporters and MPs passionate about upholding The Hunting Act, which criminalised hunting foxes, mink, stag or hares with dogs in 2004. They tirelessly campaign to maintain support for this important piece of legislation, even petitioning their own party to ensure that the law is upheld.
Since its introduction, The Hunting Act has brought defendants involved in over 341 criminal hunting cases to justice. This far exceeds successful prosecution brought against individuals from legislation defined in other animal welfare acts, because it encompasses a wider range of hunting activities. Yet, with support on the rise, we can do more. Data reports commissioned by The League Against Cruel Sports show that public support for the ban has increased since its introduction, with 80% of the population believing that fox hunting should remain illegal. These statistics rise even further with regards to deer hunting and hare coursing.
Groups like The Blue Fox are calling for further legislation to strengthen the ban on this cruel sport, and ensure there is no chance of repeal during the next Government. The League Against Cruel Sports has consolidated public demand into a call for three improvements to the law. They ask for a halt to using dogs belowground, a ‘recklessness’ provision to criminalise the ‘accidental’ killing of foxes and increased sentencing powers for the police and courts. Criminalising the use of dogs being sent belowground to ‘flush out’ foxes would greatly curtail the success of illegal hunts and stop the cruelty suffered by foxes and hounds, who both can suffer horrific injuries in the long stand-offs. Using dogs in this way was initially allowed by 2004 legislation in order to benefit gamekeepers, but building evidence shows us that this horrific practice is commonly used in blood sports. A recklessness provision would also help to reduce ‘accidental’ fox deaths in drag and trail hunting, some of which are used as a smokescreen for illegal hunts. Similarly, greater sentencing powers would reflect public support for enforcing the seriousness of this crime.
Watch a recent campaign from The League Against Cruel Sports here. Please be aware that this content may upset some viewers.