APGAW holds a Review of The Hunting Act

tortured foxOn 15th September 2015 APGAW {The All Party Group on Animal Welfare} debated the success of The Hunting Act 2004.  In attendance from AIA were chair, Rev. Fergus O’Connor, directors Barbara Gardner and Chris Fegan {also representing Catholic Concern for Animals} and patron Dr Richard Ryder {also representing the RSPCA}.

Two questions were asked: ‘Has the Hunting Act been effective?’ and ‘How could the Hunting Act be improved?’

Arguing in support of the Hunting Act were RSPCA’s David Bowles {Head of Public Affairs} and the League Against Cruel Sports’ Dr Toni Shepherd.  Arguing against the Hunting Act were Jim Barrington of the Countryside Alliance and vet, Jeremy Naylor.

A major part of the debate revolved around whether better statistics were needed to prove the efficacy of hunting and whether this impaired animal welfare.  AIA thinks that it would be outrageous to ask for statistical evidence that an abused person had their welfare impaired, so why was statistical evidence required when the subject of abuse is a fox?

Another argument  put forward by the pro-hunters was that shooting and snaring were far more cruel than hunting with dogs and that all the Hunting Act had achieved was an increase in cruelty as, with hunting now banned, these worse alternatives were having to be used.  AIA does not believe that it should be a question of either hunting or shooting and snaring, but that neither are necessary.  Foxes should simply be left alone. A farmer from Devon stood up and confirmed that he farmed free-range chickens and dairy cows and that he protected them with fences and had no need to control foxes.

Vet, Jeremy Naylor argued that that a study he had been involved in had proved that flushing out a fox with a pack of hounds was quicker than flushing out a fox with two hounds {hence the need to amend the Act}.  That’s probably a no-brainer but it was argued by the League that this caused more suffering. The pro-hunters argued that fewer injured deer were found and shot and put out of their misery with two dogs than with a pack.  I wonder whether a sheep dog, which can round up a whole flock of sheep single-handedly, without attacking hem, would be more effective?

The majority of the people attending to watch the debate were anti-hunters and, with both this strength of support and the most convincing arguments, the anti-hunt debaters won the day.

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