The Hunting Act is unlikely to change any time soon after the Prime Minister last week (26 March) said it was doubtful a government agreement would be reached.
David Cameron “quashed rumours” of an amendment to the Act — to remove a 2 hound limit when flushing out foxes — in the face of coalition divisions.
Welsh hill farmers argued that a change was needed due to an increase of attacks on lambs.
“Proposals were made on a cross-party basis [to environment secretary Owen Paterson] about an amendment to the Hunting Act that would help in particular upland farmers deal with the problem of fox predation of their lands,” said Mr Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions.
“That is being considered, but I regret to say I don’t think there’ll be government agreement to go forward.”
However, David Cameron has reportedly ordered officials to gather evidence to support a change.
“We are disappointed that the Government has not been able to unite in support for a proposal to amend the Hunting Act that would improve the welfare of foxes while protecting lambs and other livestock,” said Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance.
“The Government now has indicated that it favours a consultation on the subject. We feel this is quite unnecessary. The Labour government’s inquiry into hunting [by Lord Burns] recommended that no matter what restrictions were put on hunting with dogs, gun packs should be allowed to continue to shoot foxes.
“Further consultation would therefore seem unnecessary. However, if the Government feels it needs to launch a consultation we will of course work with the Federation of Welsh Farmers’ Packs.”
This would have been the first change since the Act was enforced in 2005.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (3 April 2014)