10 Years on, How Effective has the Hunting Act Been?

Posted: November 27, 2014 in Comment
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The Countryside Alliance will be quick to tell you it’s a pointless piece of legislation which punishes the good old British country life, a blight on rural communities who are steeped in tradition and are the best placed to manage the countryside in the ways they know best for all concerned, both man and wildlife.

Of course that’s a load of nonsense.

Any tradition which involves unbelievable cruelty should be consigned to the dustbin of history with things like slavery, bear baiting and putting small boys up chimneys. Just because something has been done for a significant amount of time doesn’t make it right. To evolve as a species we have the capability to reassess what’s right and what’s wrong then adapt our actions and behaviour accordingly. Clearly those who enjoy cruelty in any form are either incapable of this judgement through a lack of empathy for our fellow beings or have no moral responsibility (which means they’re probably sociopaths) or they’re just indoctrinated into a way of thinking to such a crushing extent that they’re incapable of breaking their programming through personal strength and intellect.

Put simply, they’re either mental or stupid.

Not a happy camper. But if you're doing nothing wrong the why the hostility?

Not a happy camper. But if you’re doing nothing wrong the why the hostility?

While the British public and even the majority of MP’s in the house of commons support the ban it would seem there is still a significantly powerful minority who are able to hold sway with those that have to uphold the law. We’ve seen time and again the lack of effective policing and in fact quite the reverse, the systematic persecution of those trying to save the lives of the animals illegally hunted. The police love to quote the numbers of successful prosecutions against Hare coursers but will often ignore the Beagle packs which illegally hunt Hares every week in full view. The difference? Coursers are usually from the lower end of the social and financial demographic while Beaglers will generally inhabit the upper echelons. I’ve never been one to favour the class war argument with regards to hunting as I’ve seen those from all walks of life involved in some capacity however by-and-large there is, without doubt some mileage in the claims and the actions of the police only help to enforce this. If they truly were impartial then anyone, regardless of background, finances and connections would face the same ramifications for breaking the law.

The Act itself has enabled there to be a significant number of successful prosecutions which wouldn’t have previously been possible however as is the case with much of these things the legislation is far from perfect. Hunts regularly use loopholes and exemptions to, pretty much get away with murder. The League Against Cruel Sports are pushing for improvements to the legislation and these include:

  • Prohibiting the use of dogs below ground – this is arguably where the worst cruelty occurs in hunting, not only to wild mammals pursued underground with limited opportunity to escape (usually foxes and badgers), but also to the dogs sent below ground to find these animals and either flush them out or hold them at bay.
  • Inserting a ‘reckless’ provision to ensure the killing of wild mammals during a trail hunt cannot be passed off as an ‘unfortunate accident’.
  • Increasing the punishments available to the courts so that the Act is brought in line with other animal protection legislation.

I agree totally with all the above however the most complete and water tight laws will become pointless if those who are tasked with enforcing them show little interest in doing so and this is the crux of the matter. Until our police and CPS take the law seriously and act accordingly then nothing will change.

Just exercising the hounds my arse.

Just exercising the hounds my arse.

Another issue is the lack of understanding into what’s going on in our countryside by the majority of people. Most believe hunting with dogs is a thing of the past, and why shouldn’t they, it has been banned after all. Time and again I get messages on Facebook and through this blog from people asking me what the situation is regarding the ban and whether it has been lifted. Most are stunned to learn that it is still in force and yet hunts are regularly seen to be killing animals with impunity. Generating public awareness is key in this issue. With better awareness the public can pressure their MP’s and make this issue into something that can be secure votes from the electorate. Environmental and wildlife issues should be at the heart of any political parties manifesto and yet it’s always seen as a secondary if not tertiary concern. Together we can make this a priority for the next election. If the Tories get back in and, perish the thought, UKIP gain more seats then we can say goodbye to all that we hold dear from our natural heritage, to be replaced by a playground for the rich and their lacky’s. A countryside devoid of biodiversity run by the bloodthirsty sociopaths hell bent on sick gratification through extreme cruelty.

We’re supposed to be a country of animal lovers. Let’s make sure we live up to that.

  1. Sally-Ann Kingham says:

    Problem being just who will stop this? Blair never had the guts to pass a Hunting Act that was easy to police. Would Labour now do so? Personally I feel the Act should be amended and tightened so that they can no longer get away with claiming ‘accidents’ etc. We also need a Government who will ensure the police do there job properly in this instance. Is there actually a party that would do this?

  2. Trausti says:

    Keep going Sabs you are doing a noble work against criminals

  3. G. B. What says:

    You lost, deal with it! Xxx

  4. Glos2013 says:

    With budget cuts in all Government departments, how on earth do you think the Police can do anything other than keep the peace on this. They have far more important things to do such as dealing with would be terrorists that would kill thousands of people if they were given the chance. Most of the time there is no intention by the Hunts to commit a crime so you can hardly expect the Police to sit around waiting for one to happen when it is not a particularly serious crime. The wealthy ones you despise just go abroad and enjoy themselves free of interference..

    • Rural police are not chasing international terrorists. However they still manage to put multiple units and sometimes helicopters in place to monitor sabs and harass them so one can assume for the right purpose they can apply the funds necessary.

      Hunts absolutely intend to hunt illegally, they are encouraging and feeding foxes to hunt (as shown on ITV). A crime is a crime, they have a duty of care to respond accordingly. Just because you don’t think obscene cruelty warrants police action doesn’t make it any less of an offence.

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