While thousands gathered for the traditional Boxing Day hunt, animal advocacy groups released the results of a poll showing that the majority of the public in Great Britain opposes hunting foxes with dogs.
Hunting fox, deer, mink and hare with packs of dogs was made illegal under the Hunting Act in 2004, but the rural tradition has persisted thanks to some strange loopholes in the law and people who choose to blatantly ignore it entirely. There has been some success in catching lawbreakers; 48 people were found guilty of violating the law in 2012 alone.
Both the Coalition Government’s promise in 2010 to reconsider the ban and allow a free vote on the issue and Prime Minister David Cameron sympathizing with a pro-hunting crowd in October have raised hopes among the pro-hunting lobby that the law will be repealed.
Now animal advocacy groups are challenging the Prime Minister to let it go to a vote because they believe the public will stand behind the ban. An Ipsos Mori poll, which was commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that 80 percent of the public believes fox hunting with dogs should stay illegal.
“If they had the vote now there’d be two losers – the government and the hunters – they would lose the vote… if they want a vote we say bring it on,” Joe Duckworth, the League’s chief executive, told the Independent.
It’s not surprising that the public supports the ban; animal advocates have long argued that this is a cruel tradition that belongs in the past. Regardless of how it’s promoted as a means of “pest control” or romanticized, it’s about nothing more than chasing and brutally killing an animal for entertainment.
While the pro-hunting crowd continues to argue that this issue has been one that pits city and rural residents against each other, the poll showed people living in rural areas and urban areas were equally opposed, according to the League.
Despite clear opposition, the pro-hunting lobby and organizations including the Countryside Alliance continue to push to undo the ban.
Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the alliance, called the law “illiberal, unjust and divisive,” telling the West Briton that proposals to amend the Act were backed in science and that doing nothing to repeal it was unacceptable.
Even if their numbers did need to be controlled, sending a pack of dogs to tear them apart is not an acceptable solution. The science that’s touted by the pro-hunting lobby in favor of expanding exemptions included in the Act and allowing hunting with more dogs as a form of pest control has also been debunked. The number of foxes has not increased since the ban was enacted and foxes, like other wild animals, are known to control their own populations.
“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,’” said Duckworth.
Warning: The following video contains graphic footage.
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