Chasing through London to save wildlife
Today, people on the streets of London witnessed something quite unusual.
A pack of hounds led by a huntsman ‘chased’ a stag and a fox through some of the most prominent streets of central London, including Parliament Square. How did that happen? Isn’t hunting banned? A hunt in Parliament Square!
Well, this was not an ordinary hunt. To start with, none of the animals were real. The stag, the fox and the hounds were photos on the sides of two ad vans which chased each other around Parliament Square. IFAW’s costumed fox, stag and hare were also in the square to see the vans as they passed by.
The slogan across the two vans showing the fox followed by the hounds says ‘Torn to shreds…if they tear up the Act’ and on the other side showing the stag followed by the dogs says ‘If they Kill the Act…he’ll be hunted to death’ followed by the important message: ‘Don’t let the Government bring back hunting. Tell your MP to vote NO to the Hunting Act Amendment.’
We organised this to send out a strong message to the public that the Hunting Act 2004 is under threat because the Government is considering amending it in such a way that it would make it almost unenforceable.
The amendment the Government is considering is to eliminate the limit on the number of dogs in the “flushing to guns” exemption in Schedule 1 of the Act. At face value this seems a small change, but it is in fact a big one, because it will allow those that hunt illegally to claim a stronger defence than before, it will make it very difficult to show the difference between illegal hunting and exempt hunting, and it will affect all hunts in England and Wales.
There is a precedent: in Scotland, the Protection of Wild Animals Act 2002 does not have a limit on the numbers of dogs that can be used to flush out wild mammals to guns…and there has never been a successful prosecution under this Act, despite the fact that a considerable number of allegations of illegal hunting have been made.
This amendment in reality would bring back hunting ‘by the back door’. The Government intends to use a Statutory Instrument mechanism that will considerably reduce Parliamentary scrutiny. This is why it is important that the public finds out and all MPs are made aware about how important it is that the hunting ban is preserved, as despite the reduced scrutiny, MPs will still vote for or against it.
Please urge your MP to do all they can to protect the Hunting Act and stop any return to cruelty.