After many years of campaigning by IFAW and other animal lovers, the British Parliament passed The Hunting Act 2004 (which went into effect in early 2005). Under the terms of the Act, which covers England and Wales, a person commits an offence if he hunts fox, hare, deer or mink with dogs.

The bill also outlaws hare coursing, whereby dogs such as greyhounds pursue their quarry by sight rather than scent. Although strictly not always a form of hunting, the objective is often to kill the prey. Hare coursing is often a form of gambling.

Despite the imposition of the ban seven years ago, hare coursing events are still being held illegally. Farmers, whose fields are being trespassed for hare coursing, say that the number of incidents has now returned to pre-ban levels and are being committed by violent gangs. It’s the UK’s number one wildlife crime.

The current coalition government is deciding whether the Act should be repealed.

Repealing the Hunting Act runs counter to what the British public wants. Three in four (76 percent) support the ban on fox hunting and only one in six (18 percent) want the Act repealed, according to a recent study by Ipsos MORI, a well-known market research company in the UK. The poll found that more than eight in ten think the ban on deer hunting, hare hunting and hare coursing should remain enforced.

Is the ban working?

Myths & realities

Successful prosecutions

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