Hunting Act packs a punch, according to RSPCA report

Success hailed in time for traditional Boxing Day hunts

A new report has revealed that the Hunting Act is working well and actually has been more successful than some other laws aimed at tackling wildlife crime.

Statistics show that 73% of prosecutions taken against those suspected of hunting with dogs in 2010 were successful – up by 10% on last year and more than any other wildlife-related legislation.

Despite dire predictions before it was introduced, many hunts have successfully adjusted to the Act, keeping their hounds and preserving rural jobs. Many will today be enjoying the traditional Boxing Day Hunt in a legal, humane way without the barbaric chasing and killing of wild animals for sport.

Claire Robinson, government relations manager, said: “The Act is now in its seventh year and remains pivotal in protecting wildlife and preventing cruelty in this country – any suggestions that it does not work are ridiculous.

“It seems incredible to me that anyone ever thought it was acceptable to pursue and attack a wild animal with a pack of dogs – leading to an utterly pointless death. This Act has ensured this vile practice is a thing of the past, and I hope it stays that way.”

The Hunting Act will celebrate its seventh anniversary in February 2012, and the RSPCA is delighted that it has proved to be an enforceable law which is an effective means of stopping cruelty.

In 2010 there were 49 prosecutions under the Act and of these, 36 defendants were found guilty. This means that the success rate of prosecutions taken in 2010 was 73%, more than the Badgers Act 1991 (60%), Deer Act 1991 (50%) and Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 (67%).

The coalition government has promised a "free vote on a motion" on whether to repeal the Hunting Act 2004. The RSPCA is extremely alarmed at this decision and believes those calling for repeal of this law are calling for a return to cruelty.

A poll* undertaken in December 2010 showed that nearly 80% of the public thought that hunting with dogs is outdated in today’s society. Just 8% of those asked thought it was ‘acceptable’ and a mere 2% thought it was ‘humane’.

Notes to editors:

— Further information can be found in the RSPCA’s most recent briefing at briefing update 2011 v2.pdf

— Hunting with dogs includes deer hunting, fox hunting, hare hunting, mink hunting and hare coursing.

— *The polling was conducted online by YouGov who interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,130 adults aged 18+ in the UK between 17 and 20 December 2010. The poll was commissioned by the RSPCA.

— Interviews are available on request from the press office on 0300 123 0244/0288.


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