It was a battle hard fought but hunting wild animals with dogs for sport was eventually banned in England and Wales in 2004. This is a fantastic achievement. However, what a lot of people perhaps don’t realise is that despite this ban, hunts continue more popular than ever. We may have won the battle, but the war is far from over.
Hunting foxes, hares, deer, mink and other wild mammals with packs of dogs was banned simply because the vast majority of people in Britain believe it is wrong to set animals against animals for sport– that’s why so many lobbied their MPs for a ban. However, a small group of people believe they are above the law and they don’t care one jot about their fellow inhabitants’ opinions and insist in continuing with the horrific, outdated and sickeningly cruel practice of traditional hunting. Two, sometimes three times a week they invade our beautiful countryside with their half starved hounds and scare foxes and hares from cover and chase them to their death. Hounds have been bred to have a slower speed than foxes but greater stamina because these people ‘enjoy the chase’. Utterly exhausted, cornered and panic stricken the fox is finally finished off by up to 50 yelping dogs ripping him apart. The alternative outcomes are a lingering death from starvation due to sheer exhaustion or a fight to the end pitted against terriers sent down the sett the beleaguered fox has sought refuge in.
Is there a place for this barbarity in society today?
Of course there isn’t and polls show that as many as 80% of Brits support the fox hunting ban. But the Tories under David Cameron, a former fox hunter himself, have tried all manner of sneaky ways to amend the hunting act. The only reason Cameron has stopped short of holding a free vote on repeal of the hunting act altogether is because he knows fully well he would lose and the abysmal failure would be just another sign of how removed our PM is from reality and the opinion of the British public.
However, one thing that concerns me is the total lack of enforcement of the law and the complete indifference of the police to uphold it and prevent these people from having their blood kicks and slaying our wildlife. The police are not unknown to regularly attend illegal hunts- there are approximately 176 registered packs of foxhounds in England and Wales; hunt monitors hand in graphic footage and harried reports are made by alarmed members of the public but the fact is the police don’t care, don’t do anything and almost always the mounted criminals get away with savagery.
I have always viewed any attempt to justify a sport that involves killing as a reflection of an unhealthy mind and nothing will change my opinion on that. Such sadistic past times have a pernicious influence over society’s values and attitudes. What does it say about our society in 2015 if some, albeit a small minority, continue to indulge in their vicious pleasures in bare faced defiance of the law, the rights of our wildlife and the will of the British people. Cruelty not class is what that matters in our countryside because animal cruelty in the name of ‘sport’ is nothing to do with one’s class, background or custom. It is a universal wrong that unifies people from all sectors of society, walks of life and party allegiance because it is both illegal and immoral.
The Green Party is a political party that stands up for the common good which includes other species too. It will put policies in place which will stop us treating other species and the natural environment as a means to the satisfaction of humans only. In England and Wales there have been a pathetic twelve convictions for illegal hunting which shows just how feebly the Hunting Act 2004 is being enforced. The Green Party is determined to ensure the Hunting Act, as the important and successful piece of legislation that it is, is protected from repeal and will work hard to ensure the law is enforced.