Every year at least a quarter of a million people turn out to show their support for hunting on this traditional day in the country sports year.
This year they have much to celebrate:
- Not one hunt has been prosecuted in the past year. The last private prosecution collapsed earlier this month.
- Data from the Ministry of Justice from 2005 – 2014 shows that 378 people have been convicted of Hunting Act offences over that period, however just 24 of those people were involved with registered hunts. More than 94% of Hunting Act convictions did not involve hunts. The Hunting Act is being used to prosecute poachers.
- More and more evidence points to the failure of the Act
Research undertaken by the Countryside Alliance this hunting season shows that hunting is in good shape, despite 11 years under the Hunting Act. All hunts were sent a questionnaire and their responses showed:
- 83% of hunts have the same number or more subscribers, since the Hunting Act
- A third of hunt supporters’ clubs have gained new members
- 85% of hunts have the same number or more hounds
- 67% of hunt countries have stayed the same size or grown
- 83% of hunts employ the same number or more staff
- 91% hunt the same number of days, or more, each season
Speaking ahead of the annual Boxing Day spectacle, Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “It’s clear that the Hunting Act is in tatters. It was never about foxes or animal welfare but rather an attempt to eradicate hunts and the communities that surround them. After 11 years of the Act support for hunts is as strong as ever and the Hunting Act is mostly being used to prosecute poaching offences.
“The last case to be brought under the Hunting Act collapsed earlier this month. Those opposed to hunting are getting more and more desperate and resorting to ever more drastic measures to try to secure a conviction.
“But just because a bad law is also ineffective is no excuse for leaving it in place. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and thousands of hours of court time have been wasted on spurious accusations under the Hunting Act – this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
For interviews, photo opportunities and further information, contact the Countryside Alliance head of media Charlotte Cooper on 07500 834163.
Many of the hunt meets across the country are listed on the Masters of Foxhounds Association website: http://www.mfha.org.uk/
Hunting facts and figures
- Around 45,000 people regularly follow hunts
- There are 289 registered packs of hunting dogs in England and Wales and 10 in Scotland, plus another 22 packs of draghounds and bloodhounds that were set up pre-ban purely to hunt a trail or runner
- 80% of hunts are closely involved with young people through their local school or Pony Club branch