IFAW calls for amendments to Hunting Act in light of another hunting prosecution being dropped

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is changing its position on the Hunting Act and calling for a number of necessary amendments in light of another prosecution being dropped.

IFAW, one of the key groups involved in successfully campaigning for the Hunting Act to be introduced a decade ago, has continued to work to protect this vital piece of wildlife legislation. However, it believes the Act now needs amending so it can be used more effectively.

A case brought by the RSPCA against the Cattistock Hunt, based on IFAW evidence, has been dropped two days before a pre-trial hearing at Weymouth Magistrates Court scheduled for this Friday.

It is the latest in a series of cases where the prosecution has hinged on evidence which IFAW and other animal welfare groups believe show clear evidence of illegal hunting, but which the prosecution claim is legal trail hunting (following an artificially laid fox-based scent).

IFAW is also concerned by lack of enforcement and the length of time cases take to reach court.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “We are very disappointed that the case has been dropped, although we do understand the RSPCA’s reasons with the great difficulties in getting these cases through the courts.

“We stand by our evidence completely; this case was dropped, not lost. In fact, it was the strength of our evidence in this case that led us to the reluctant conclusion that having tried everything under the current justice system, we need to call for changes to strengthen the Hunting Act.

“Time and time again, hunts are able to flout the law and escape prosecution by using the false alibi that they were trail hunting. The pro-hunt lobby are continually dragging out cases, wasting public and charity funds and in cases which do reach court the smokescreen of trail hunting is simply letting them off the hook.”

IFAW is calling for the following changes to the Hunting Act to ensure those who illegally chase or kill foxes and other British mammals with hounds are successfully prosecuted:

  • The introduction of a recklessness clause to prevent ‘trail hunting’ from being used as a false alibi;
  • The removal of the ‘observation and research’ exemption, which has been abused by stag hunts to avoid prosecution for illegal hunting;
  • An increase in the penalty for illegal hunting to include custodial sentences, in line with other wildlife crime legislation.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on 020 7587 6708, mobile 07917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter