Fox hunting is illegal right? Well yeah, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it. Although a ban on hunting with hounds was put into place in 2004 via the Hunting Act, fox hunting and hare coursing continues up and down the country week in week out.

The main reason for this is that the current ban has so many loopholes that it proves to be increasingly harder for illegal hunting to be successfully prosecuted against. For instance it has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt that a hunt was intending to kill a mammal with dogs, and how exactly do you prove this when a hunt can simply claim they are ‘trail hunting’?

This month alone there have been several incidents of hunts killing wildlife in the name of ‘sport’, but the main difficulty is in capturing sufficient evidence to supply to the relevant authorities. Only two days ago, Cheshire Monitors witnessed a fox being killed by a hunt, stating on their Facebook page ;


We are sorry to report that our team have just witnessed the Cheshire Hounds hunt brutally kill a fox right in front of us. It all happened too quickly for us to stop it.

This happened within 20 minutes of the hunt setting out from today’s meet at Poplar Farm in Wettenhall, Cheshire, and within 100 metres of the road. The body of the fox was then quickly retrieved by Jamie Whittles the Whipper In and a terrierman who put it in a black bin liner and then left the scene at speed. This has all been captured on film.

Incidents such as these are widespread and 13 years on from the ban it appears that hunts are able to flout the law without any repercussions. Although the Act has undoubtedly gone some way to protecting wildlife, there have been far too many allegations of illegal hunting which have not been properly investigated for a variety of reasons.

Unfortunately, hunts often use the exemptions of the Hunting Act as an excuse if they are caught hunting. For example, stag-hunts use the ‘Research and Observation’ exemption that was designed for researchers and not hunters, and some fox hunts carry birds of prey in order to claim that they use the ‘falconry’ exemption, which was designed for falconers.

Since 2004 hunts have claimed to partake in ‘trail hunting’ whereby they follow an artificial based scent rather than a live mammal but this is nothing short of a farce. One must question how hounds are able to distinguish between artificially laid sent and that of an actual fox, and it is of little surprise that wildlife often gets in the way of ‘trail hunting’.

Additionally hunts continue to use terriermen (whose job it is to stop or block fox earths and badger setts in the area where hunting was to take place to prevent foxes from going to ground), despite the fact that if they were actually following a trail, there would be absolutely no need for these people to be present.

The solution to these fundamental problems with the ban on fox hunting is for the 2004 Hunting Act to be strengthened and properly enforced. This could include section 6 of the Act to be amended to add provision for a prison sentence of up to six months for illegal hunting, and a ‘reckless’ clause which will make it an offence for anyone to ’cause or permit’ one or more dogs to seek out, chase, injure or kill a wild mammal.

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