May 2: Hunting ban’s flaws now reveal a law based on prejudice

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From: Jim Barrington, Welfare Consultant, Countryside Alliance.

THE recent letter by Joe Duckworth, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports (The Yorkshire Post, April 25), will probably sound reasonable to anyone who has little or no experience of hunting and wildlife management. But dig deeper and the cracks in his argument quickly become apparent.

Simply because a previous government (on the basis of no scientific evidence but a good deal of prejudice) passed a law against hunting with dogs does not preclude a future government from repealing it. Various political parties in this general election period are arguing to do just this on a variety of issues.

Furthermore, suggesting repeal of the Hunting Act would also mean the legalisation of badger baiting and dog fighting, as LACS has done, shows dishonesty and desperation in equal measures.

Ask a straight question of the public, as a YouGov poll did in January, and that “80 per cent of people [who] want hunting to remain illegal” drops dramatically to roughly 50 per cent. Maybe people are finally seeing the futility of the Hunting Act, which cost some £30m to reach the statute book and has cost the public purse goodness knows how many more millions of pounds since.

Perhaps it would have been worth the money had animal welfare been improved, but not a penny has been spent by any anti-hunting group to examine the effect this law has had on wildlife. Little wonder that legal experts, senior police officers, vets, senior civil servants and Tony Blair – Prime Minister at the time – have all criticised this flawed legislation.

Now LACS and others want a ban on drag hunting, where no animal quarry is involved, proving that it is the people involved in hunting who are their real target. As a previous executive director of LACS, I have come to understand the importance of using scenting hounds, which hunt in a similar way to wolves and other wild canines. This form of hunting provides a unique method of wildlife management, being selective, testing and non-wounding. The prime aim of hunting is not the numbers killed, but the health and smaller population left alive.

Numerous other individuals have also changed their minds once the facts became clear to them. It would be more honest of Mr Duckworth to simply admit why he seeks to ban hunting with dogs which, I suspect, is far more to do with his political leanings.

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