Hunting calls for review of the law as general election approaches

  • The British Hound Sports Association (BHSA) is calling for a Law Commission review into the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

    The news comes during the build-up to the next general election, which is expected later this year, as the BHSA tries to secure the future of hunting for generations.

    BHSA chairman Viscount Astor told H&H: “The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is now 40 years out of date and in need of amending. Following the outcome of the review we believe it will show how the various quarry species and both flora and fauna have been adversely affected over the last 40 years.”

    He added: “The second part of our campaign is simple – to show and prove that trail-hunting and exempt hunting properly conducted following clear protocol is a legal sport and not, as claimed by the antis, ‘a loophole.’”

    Following recent trail-hunting demonstration days, which were well attended by mainstream broadcast media, the BHSA has announced that there will be a national trail- and drag-hunting day on Saturday, 14 September at more than 20 venues across the country, to include packs from across hunting’s spectrum.

    “We aim to make a huge impact before the start of the general election campaign, and will invite the media, police, police commissioners, all candidates and local councillors, and we want it well attended by hunt subscribers and supporters,” said Viscount Astor.

    There will be no call for changes to the Hunting Act that affect drag-hunting, trail-hunting or exempt hunting.

    “To be clear, we are not calling for repeal, or amendment of the Hunting Act or any licensing proposal,” Viscount Astor said. “We are determined to win the campaign to preserve hunting with hounds in this country for many generations to come.”

    Viscount Astor also said that he was delighted that Ben Wallace, former secretary of state for defence, is joining the BHSA board.

    “It is great to have such a distinguished MP and parliamentarian of 20 years’ standing as part of the board,” he said.

    Will Spencer, joint-master of the Pytchley, told H&H: “I have been really impressed by the evolution of the BHSA over the past 12 months and their proactive approach to promoting and advertising our activities.

    “The recent trail-hunting demonstration days have offered the opportunity to show the wider population how we operate and to dispel the repetitive rhetoric and false claims from animal rights groups. I hope they [the BHSA], with all of our support, can build on this with their call for a Law Commission review.”

    Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner emphasised the importance of showing  that hunting activities are being properly conducted. He told H&H: “Labour does not believe that all hunts are operating legally. This is not a debate about hunting, it is solely about enforcement of the law.

    “There are two obvious steps we must take to counter this threat. We need to make it clear that all hunts are operating legitimately and to high standards. Trail-hunting, in particular, needs to be overt and hunts must ensure there is nothing in their operation that raises questions about the legitimacy of their activities.

    “Secondly, we must all take action to lobby candidates in our constituencies to explain that trail-hunting is a legal and important part of rural life, and that attacking hunting will once again put Labour completely out of touch with the priorities of rural voters. The Alliance is in regular contact with shadow ministers, Labour MPs and candidates who have been selected in marginal seats. The most effective lobbying, however, comes from voters in those constituencies, which is why we are asking people to sign up to our Action for Hunting initiative.

    “The Alliance will continue to argue that a manifesto commitment would make Labour look out of touch with voters’ priorities. The action we all take in the coming months will have a profound impact on the outcome and the future of hunting.”

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