The pros’ have tried to weaken the Act with a Statutory Instrument and they have even been to the European Court of Human Rights. All to no avail I’m happy to report.
The problems lie with the present pro-hunting Tory government who made a promise of a free vote on repeal before the end of Parliament. That is looking more and more unlikely now with only weeks to the General Election in 2015.
But another sneaky backdoor attempt cannot be totally ruled out, and one can be sure that those bloodthirsty fellows in the Countryside Alliance haven’t given up, and neither must we.
They are claiming that because of the recent failures of some prosecutions the Act is unworkable and should be scrapped.
On the 15th November 2014 we heard that all proceedings against the Devon and Somerset Staghounds huntsman Donald Summersgill and joint-masters David Greenwood and Rupert Andrews had been dropped. The three faced a total of four charges relating to alleged incidents of hunting with dogs on September 14 and October 24, 2013.
The League Against Cruel Sports brought video evidence that alleged illegal hunting was taking place, but the hunters claimed latterly that they had been carrying out research into deer health. This is allowed under the current legislation, as is accidental hunting and the flushing of a fox or deer to waiting guns.
This is not an isolated case, and whether it’s down to sympathetic police forces or magistrates who are unwilling or unable to interpret the law in favour of the hunted quarry, is any one’s guess.
Unfortunately, the wording can be open to malicious interpretation, and hunters and shooters are using the amendments (which were placed there by pro hunting MPs at the time of the original debate) to flout the Law.
No word is too small to escape their scrutiny, and what can be spun is spun in their attempts to pick the Law apart.
Lord Burns is frequently quoted as saying hunting is not cruel, and although he used those words, they were not in that order or with that meaning. The more sophisticated arguments come from the pro hunt Lawyers and a favourite at the moment is the exemption for carrying out research. (Although they are still not permitted to use a pack pf dogs.)
Enough is enough, and the animal charities agree it’s time to push for strengthening the current legislation to make it easier to take the law breakers to court and win.
The animal charities and lobby groups have joined forces and put forward some ideas for MPs. One of the biggest changes is a call for prison time and a criminal record for those who flout the Law. The LACS (League Against Cruel Sports) and POWA (Protect Our Wild Animals) want to see a 6 month sentence, but Fox in Parliament, a political animal lobby group, goes one better and calls for a 2-year mandatory prison sentence.
Hopefully with a change of government this year we will see some strong support for the hunting Act.
In the meantime we must continue to let our MPs know that hunting is a dinosaur and one we don’t want resurrected in our modern British Isles.
Country lover, amateur naturalist and fox lover fighting to preserve the ban on hunting
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