"The overwhelming majority of the British public has no tolerance for hunters who believe they are above the law."
- IFAW UK Director Robbie Marsland speaking about a 2008 ipsos MORI poll that found that three-quarters of the British public want hunting with dogs to remain illegal.
Hunting with dogs was a British pastime dating back some 800 years that was traditionally enjoyed by royalty, the aristocracy, landowners and the country-dwelling clergy. Dogs were trained specifically to hunt foxes in the 1660s and the 'modern day' form of organised fox hunting was introduced in 1750s. Whilst other 'sports' involved the setting of dog on other animals became unacceptable and were banned in the 19th century, the first attempts to ban fox and deer hunting were not made until much later.
In 1989 IFAW became involved in the campaign to ban hunting deers, foxes, hares and minks with dogs in England, Scotland and Wales following pressure from its supporter base. IFAW opposes hunting with dogs on animal welfare grounds as it is cruel and unnecessary, causing suffering to the hunted species during both the chase and the kill. In 1996 IFAW formed a hunt campaign coalition with the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports. The coalition operated primarily under the name "The Campaign to Protect Hunted Animals".
Photographic and video evidence collected by IFAW's two full-time hunt monitors, Kevin Hill and Peter White, provided the campaign with its heart by enabling the organisation to show the public the cruel facts about hunting with dogs. In addition to the horrific footage of animals being chased down and torn apart by dogs, the monitors also obtained evidence to reject the claims of hunters that their 'sport' was all about controlling pests. The high-profile Beaufort Hunt was revealed to be building fox earths within its territories to attract foxes to the countryside. The hunt denied these were aimed at providing foxes to hunt. The monitors also obtained film footage of the Beaufort Hunt's official terrier man leaving food outside man-made fox earths.
On November 18, 2004 hunting with dogs was banned in England and Wales with the legislation being passed through the use of the Parliament Acts. The ban on hunting with dogs became law three months later on February 18, 2005. The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 had become law two years earlier following IFAW's campaigning in Scotland within a Scottish anti-hunt coalition comprising of two other partners, the League Against Cruel Sports and Advocates for Animals.
Over the course of the campaign to ban hunting with dogs, IFAW, RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports, issued numerous reports and fact sheets concerning the inherent cruelty, the potential impacts of a ban, and related issues.
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