with Horse and Hound

Boxing Day Brings Britain No Closer to Repeal of the Ban

Boxing Day, traditionally the best-attended day of the hunting season in England, will bring large fields and throngs of hunt supporters to the meets, but no solace in their dreams of repealing the despised Hunting Act of 2005.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign pledge to bring the matter to a vote in Parliament notwithstanding, such a move is not in the offing according to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, a hunt supporter himself. The Huffington Post, UK quotes the cabinet minister as saying, “There’s only a point having a vote if you’re going to win.”

A recent poll found, in fact, that seventy-six percent of the population are against legalizing foxhunting, despite a concerted pro-hunting campaign by the Countryside Alliance.

With nearly all hunts planning to ride on Boxing Day, The Telegraph estimates that more than one million people will attend at least three hundred meets. As a comparison, there are more than twice the number of hunts in England as in the U.S.

According to The Guardian, the Countryside Alliance reports more hunt followers today than in 2005 when the ban became law, as well as an increased sense of support from local countryside communities. One third of all hunts claim to have more members and supporters than before the ban, and the great majority of hunts are hunting just as much.

Barney White-Spunner, executive chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said, “The Hunting Act was an attack on rural people rather than an attempt to improve animal welfare, which is why it has failed so spectacularly.” He said that in the uplands the Hunting Act has made it nearly impossible for farmers to control the fox population and protect their livestock.

Meanwhile, the League Against Cruel Sports has pledged to intensify its campaign against illegal hunting by recruiting more hunt monitors—many of them ex-police officers.

Posted December 26, 2012