Opinion Former Article

RSCPA: Boxing Clever - Hunting Act Snares Criminals

The RSPCA issued a briefing today which reveals the Hunting Act is working well and actually being used more than some other legislation to tackle wildlife crime.

The Hunting Act (2004) will celebrate its fifth anniversary in force in February 2010, and the Society is delighted that despite dire predictions before it was introduced, many hunts have successfully adjusted to the new law, thereby keeping their hounds and preserving rural jobs.

"The Hunting Act has never been about stopping the activity of riding to hounds in the countryside - it was to prevent wild animals being chased and killed for sport," said John Rolls, RSPCA Director of Animal Welfare Promotion.

"Hunting wild animals to a cruel and pointless death for sport is no longer tolerated by modern Britain. Thankfully it is now an enforceable crime, and those who think otherwise will, where evidence comes to light, find themselves in court."

Offences under the Hunting Act were successfully prosecuted in 2007 more often than some other wildlife legislation (see RSPCA Hunting Brief for more information).

The figures also show that in the same year 48 people were found guilty of offences under the Hunting Act, more than for other similar laws. The number of defendants found guilty of offences under wildlife legislation in 2007 was:

- Badgers Act 1991 6

- Deer Act 1991 1

- Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 3

- Hunting Act 2004 48

The 2007 figures also show the success rate for prosecutions under the Hunting Act was 77 per cent, substantially higher than for the other three laws.

Various legal challenges to the Act have been dismissed in UK courts, and in a significant legal ruling last week (17 December), the European Court of Human Rights decided unanimously that the challenges were inadmissible.

The court rejected arguments that the Hunting Act infringed an individual's right to a private and family life on the basis that hunting is a public activity and it is not integral to an individual's identity. The judgment also made clear that the ban on hunting had "not created serious difficulties for earning one's living."

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For further details, or interview requests, please call the RSPCA press office on 0300 123 0244.

More Articles by RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) ...

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