• Fox Hunting

    22 July 2019

    Dear Constituent,

    Thank you for contacting me about fox hunting.

    I appreciate the strong feelings many people have on this issue and I share your concern for ensuring the welfare of animals. As you may know, fox hunting is banned under the Hunting Act 2004, so whether or not an offence is being committed depends on whether or not the behaviour violates its provisions.

    Since the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 many hunts have turned to trail hunting as an alternative to live quarry hunting. This involves a pack of hounds following an artificially laid, animal-based scent. It closely mimics the hunting that took place before the ban, but does not involve a hunt for a live fox, so is not banned. For an offence to be committed it is necessary to prove that a wild animal is being hunted intentionally.

    If any wild animal was hunted intentionally, this can lead to a prosecution and an unlimited fine. Between 2005 and 2017, a total of 778 individuals were prosecuted under the Act and 469 individuals were found guilty.

    Of course, anyone who believes that an offence has taken place during a hunt, including during a trail hunt, should report the matter to the police.

    The Government is committed in making the UK a world leader in protection of animals as we leave the EU. Legislation has now been introduced to Parliament which will increase maximum penalties for animal cruelty from six months' to five years' imprisonment. Other recent steps include making CCTV mandatory in all abattoirs to ensure animals are treated humanely at the end of their lives, banning microbeads that can harm marine life and introducing Europe’s most comprehensive ban on the ivory trade, to protect the lives of endangered African elephants.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mel Stride MP

    MP for Central Devon

    Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons