It is 20 years since the RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) began campaigning together for an end to hunting with hounds.
That campaigning was successful with the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004, which has now been in force for nine years.
To mark the anniversary Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith, a keen animal rights supporter, attended a reception at the House of Commons hosted by fellow MP, Chris Williamson.
While there MPs where encouraged by the charities to continue to stand firm against any relaxation of the Act, which prohibited the hunting of wild mammals, including foxes, deer, hares and mink with dogs, something which the vast majority of the British public opposed and continue to oppose.
The latest poll carried out by Ipsos MORI¹ at the end of 2013 shows that 80% of people in Great Britain think that fox hunting should remain illegal and 87% think that hare hunting and coursing should also remain illegal.
Since the Act came into force it quickly established itself as the most successful piece of wild animal legislation ever passed. On average one person every week is prosecuted under its provisions. Of these over two-thirds are found guilty, rendering the arguments that the ban is not enforceable, redundant.
Said Angela: “In common with the majority of the British people, I believe any repeal of the Hunting Act would be a backward step for a civilized society.
“Despite scare stories at the time the ban did not affect countryside employment, cause a growth in the fox population, nor result in the loss of horses or hounds. In fact, many hunts still meet but use artificial scents to trail hunt – something which doesn’t result in the needless deaths of wild animals and is something we welcome.”
She went on: “However, we still need to remain alert to those who attempt to break the law, making sure such acts are reported to in the same way as any other allegations of crimes against animal welfare.”