RSPCA & the League Against Cruel Sports show U.K. pack hunting ban can be enforced

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2007:


LONDON–Nearly three years after the
Hunting Act 2004 nominally banned fox hunting and
other forms of pursuing wildlife with packs of
dogs, more people are reportedly participating
than before the act took effect. Only one hunt
club has disbanded; two new clubs have formed.
“Half of the 10 prosecutions brought
under the Hunting Act have not even been against
formal fox or stag hunts,” scoffed Daniel Foggo
and Nic North in the November 4, 2007 edition of
The Times of London. “The most recent
conviction, in October, was against a gang
hunting rats. The police have made clear that
they do not see enforcing the hunting ban as a
priority. Most of the cases that have come to
court have been private prosecutions.”
Similar reports appeared a year earlier,
18 months after the passage of the Hunting Act
2004. “The Hunting Act is failing,” alleged Guy
Adams of The Independent. “Last week, The
Independent was invited to follow a typical hunt
in a remote corner of Wales. It killed nine
foxes, almost all by illegal methods; the
previous week’s bag had been 13. Supporters of
field sports believe the Hunting Act 2004 to be
unenforceable, poorly drafted, and riddled with
loopholes. Opponents say it is being ignored by
many of Britain’s 300-odd hunts.”

But test cases prosecuted by the League
Against Cruel Sports and the Royal SPCA have
demonstrated that the Hunting Act 2004 can be
successfully enforced, if agencies care to do
it. In June 2007, for example, the Bristol
Magistrates’ Court convicted Quantock Staghounds
huntsman Richard Down, 44, and whipper-in
Adrian Pillivant, 36, based on video obtained by
the League Against Cruel Sports.
Summarized Steven Morris of The Guardian,
“Down and Pillivant argued that they were using
the dogs to flush deer out to marksmen, which
can be exempt under the act. They also claimed
they were hunting to control the deer. But
district judge David Parsons concluded that they
were trying to preserve ‘a way of life that the
participants and defendants are not prepared to
give up.'”
Down and Pillivant were “supported by the
pro-hunting Countryside Alliance,” Morris wrote.
“The two men were caught hunting illegally in
February 2006. At least 17 riders took part,
including children. Deer were flushed out on
three occasions and six animals were shot. Four
dogs were used, two at a time.”
In March 2007 the Chester Magistrates
Court fined Paul McMullan, 36, nearly £6,000
for using a dog to flush a fox from a badger sett
in January 2006. Two other men and a juvenile
were sentenced earlier, after accepting plea
bargains. Theirs was the first RSPCA prosecution
brought under the Hunting Act 2004.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron
in February 2007 instructed fellow Conservative
members of Parliament to reassure “our friends
in the hunting world” that “a Tory government
would overturn the Hunting Act as a matter of
urgency,” if elected. But a Mori poll
commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports,
the RSPCA, and the International Fund for Animal
Welfare found that 77% of British voters support
the Hunting Act 2004.
Amid the ongoing debate over foxhunting,
the Department of Food and Rural Affairs in
August 2007 quietly moved to placate hunters by
lifting restrictions on selling shot game outside
the hunting season that had been in effect for
more than 170 years.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.