Note how hunts have featured prominently on TV news today – Boxing Day is a very appropriate time to remember that, though the latest news is that a repeal of the hunt ban does not appear to be on the cards, we must be ever vigilant.

Chris Gale, anti bloodsports campaigner,  posts the following news items:

Ann's garden fox


Photo credits: residents of Ann Johnson’s Eastbourne garden.

Tory backbencher Simon Hart, a former chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said he believed Mr Cameron still intended to honour the commitment to hold a free vote – contained in both the Conservative general election manifesto and the coalition agreement – but cautioned there must be no backsliding…

His comments came on one of the busiest days in the hunting calendar, with an estimated 300 Boxing Day hunts taking place around the country.

Although hunting for foxes with hounds has been outlawed, drag hunts are still permitted.

N.B. Note from Chris Gale: yes, but hunts are engaging in ‘trail hunting’ which is totally different and was only invented after the ban as a way to illegally hunt and claim ‘accidents’. If they were engaging in real drag hunting they would not be across main roads, in gardens and in coverts etc.

For Labour, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said there was no public support for ending the hunting ban…

Joe Duckworth of the League Against Cruel Sports told the Today programme they would be stepping up their campaign against hunts which broke the law.

“We have invested £1 million in recruiting new professional investigators who are out in the field, many of them ex-police officers, and we have quadrupled the number we have out there, in the field, trying to catch these people hunting illegally.”

For another and welcome perspective on Tory views on hunting, please see The Blue Foxes web site at:’t run with the pack!

Our member in Totnes Meeting, Heidi Stephenson, explains:

Why the Hunting Act must stay in place.

It has been over 8 years since the Hunting Act came into force in England and Wales and yet, tragically, there is still a significant threat to this landmark piece of animal welfare legislation. The people pushing for a repeal are, of course, the hunters themselves, a minority élite who consider chasing wild animals to death, or having them ripped apart by a pack of hounds, pleasurable – but their arguments fall down miserably under inspection.

The Hunting Act doesn’t work, they say. That’s simply not the case. The Hunting Act bans a cruel, barbaric ‘sport’ and as far as its enforcement goes, to date there have been over 180 convictions, which makes it one of the most effective pieces of animal welfare legislation on the statute book. Undoubtedly, it would be even more effective if some elements of our police force weren’t persuaded by this powerful, wealthy pro-hunt minority into turning ‘a blind eye.’ In a democratic society the very notion of selectively policing the laws of the land is dangerous and unacceptable.

It is claimed that the Hunting Act is illiberal; that it infringes on civil liberties. That very much depends on how we define a ‘liberty.’ Can the infliction of deliberate cruelty on another living, sentient being ever be considered a civil liberty? By the same skewed reasoning we are currently denying paedophiles and sadists their ‘liberties’ in protecting their vulnerable victims from sexual abuse and torture. The argument is ethically untenable. And no one is forbidding the hunters their day’s riding; their chance to gather en masse to enjoy our glorious countryside and have drinks parties – the issue is purely about their persecuted, much maligned ‘quarry.’

Perversely, it is claimed the Hunting Act does nothing to protect wild animals, and is in many cases actually detrimental to animal welfare. There is no scientific evidence to support this whatsoever.

The Hunting Act does not prevent legitimate pest control either. (Although significantly, research shows that foxes are not overall pests. Conversely, they save British arable farmers hundreds of thousands of pounds a year by keeping down rabbit and rodent populations.) It was specifically devised to allow for this where circumstances are deemed absolutely necessary. What it has made illegal is the spectacle of killing a wild mammal purely for the sake of entertainment. And it has taken the worst cruelty elements out of hunting for ‘sport.’ Hunters are no longer permitted to use packs of dogs to chase and kill wild animals – a move that the vast majority of the British public fully supports.

Indeed, the hunters’ false claim that the Act is somehow divisive, that it pits the countryside against the towns, and incites class warfare is also a desperate nonsense. Opinion polls consistently show that over 76% of people, across regions, ages, gender, political persuasion, religion and socio-economic group, do not want to see hunting made legal again. (A poll by MORI in December 2012 confirmed that figure, which rises to 81% in respect to deer hunting.) That is because hunting is barbaric and has no place in a civilized, modern society.

Not all ‘traditions’ deserve to be upheld; some, like slavery, cock-fighting, bull-baiting, – and hunting with hounds – have rightly been relegated to the dark recesses of our history.

The pro-hunt lobby insists that the Burns inquiry into the effects of hunting failed to conclude that hunting was more cruel than other forms of wildlife management, such as shooting, trapping, and snaring. It indeed accepted that possibility – but it also stated clearly that the actions undertaken during a fox hunt “seriously compromises the welfare of the fox.”

That’s putting it mildly. Even most seasoned hunters are not so keen to face the kill. Few will look their mutilated victims in the bloody eye, once the dreadful deed has finally been accomplished. And when hunters go after newborn fox cubs in August, literally digging them out of their holes with spades – the desperate vixen completely unable to protect her young – you could certainly say that their welfare had been “seriously compromised.”

I’m ‘country’ and have seen these horrors. Thank goodness the 2004 Hunting Act makes them illegal – along with their equally ugly sisters: stag hunting and hare coursing. Long may it remain.

This article, now updated, was originally printed on MP Dr Sarah Wollaston’s website.