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Calls to plug legal loopholes in foxhunting law

11 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Members of the Senedd with the Time for Change, League Against Cruel Sports banner. Photo Natasha Hirst

Martin Shipton

Members of the Senedd joined animal welfare campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports to back calls for the next UK government to strengthen fox hunting laws.

In doing so, the League praised the Senedd’s achievement in banning the use of cruel snares to trap animals – the first country of the UK to do so.

Senedd Members expressed their support for a ban on so-called trail hunting and for loopholes in the Hunting Act being exploited by hunts to be closed down.

‘End hunting for good’

Chris Luffingham, acting chief executive of the League, told an event to commemorate the charity’s centenary this year: “It’s time for change and to end hunting for good. The laws in Wales and England need to be strengthened.

“We welcome the support of MSs in calling for the next UK government to urgently implement these vital changes which will stop hunts chasing and killing foxes and wreaking havoc on rural communities.”

Carolyn Thomas MS, Chair of the Senedd Cross-Party Group on Animal Welfare said: “It is fantastic to see the Labour Party’s commitment to strengthen the Hunting Act 2004 which is much needed and will close a loophole by banning trail-hunting, a practice used as a cover up for illegal and barbaric fox hunting.

“This will be a huge step forward in ending the horrific cruelty inflicted on foxes in the UK in the name of ‘sport’. We are a nation of animal lovers and I know the vast majority of residents across Wales will want to see an end to this brutal practice.”


Recent polling commissioned by the League shows nearly eight out of 10 (78 per cent) of voters in Wales were in favour of strengthening the Hunting Act with 57 per cent saying they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the strengthening of hunting laws.

The polling was carried out independently by FindOutNow with further analysis by Electoral Calculus in March and April this year.

The campaign is backed by the Time for Change Coalition Against Hunting, representing 34 animal welfare and environmental organisations across Wales and England.

The Scottish Government strengthened its fox hunting laws last year and banned so called trail hunting. Fox hunting laws in Wales are not devolved and are determined by the UK government.

Trail hunting, the excuse most commonly used by fox hunts, was recently described by Chief Supt Matt Longman, the most senior police officer in Wales and England with responsibility for fox hunting crime, as a “smokescreen for illegal fox hunting”.


He also said the government should close the loopholes which allow the hunting community to continue killing foxes with apparent immunity.

Despite a fox hunting ban coming into force in 2005, the League Against Cruel Sports compiles reports showing hundreds of eyewitness sightings of suspected illegal fox hunting every year across Wales and England.

Mr Luffingham added: “Members of the Senedd, Welsh voters and the police all back calls to strengthen fox hunting laws and we are calling on the next UK government to catch up and change the laws with urgency.”

Mr Luffingham and senior colleagues were at the Senedd for an event to commemorate the centenary of the League, which was founded in 1924.

He said: “The word compassion is so important to our mission and to what we want to achieve, and to have politicians and lawmakers across the UK, but particularly here in Wales supporting us. Wales has actually delivered a change for animals, bringing in legislation that has led the way from the rest of the UK.

“Shortly after the Senedd brought in the ban on snares, Scotland followed suit. It’s so unfortunate that hunting is not a devolved issue to the Senedd, because I do believe you would already have taken this step if you had more powers, like they have in Scotland – and again we would be in a situation where the devolved nations of Britain would be leading the way.

“At a time when the cost of living crisis and wars overseas place a massive strain on every individual and organisation in terms of finances, this is one area where legislators can make a difference.

“Improving the lot and the lives of animals who don’t have a voice is one of the easiest and low cost measures that you can do. There are lots of reasons not to introduce legislation on a vast range of issues, and we can fight and argue about all of these. There is absolutely no barrier to Britain bringing in better standards for animal welfare, and that starts with ending cruel sports, ending the cruel practices and often knock-on effects that has to animals across the broader spectrum of animal welfare.

“You can take measures – I’m very, very pleased that you have achieved what you have achieved in terms of animal welfare. There is a lot that we can still do, but you should be very proud you have managed to improve the lives of animals in Wales.”

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15 minutes ago

Foxhunting – institutionalised cruelty to animals – utterly disgusting. Those who make excuses for it are dispicable, ignorant individuals with a very warped personalities. To call them sick would be to allow them a degree of understanding – there can be no excuse for chasing down an animal to see it being ripped apart alive. Such individuals have no place in a civilised society.

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