Pro-hunting organisations have rejected Government figures which show that 76 people have been prosecuted under the 2004 Hunting Act and that 56 were found guilty between its implementation, in February 2005, and the end of 2007. The majority of the cases brought were for offences traditionally dealt with under anti-poaching laws.

The Home Office’s figures were revealed on 13 January in answer to a Parliamentary question from pro-hunting Conservative MP David Ruffley.

The Countryside Alliance’s Simon Hart said the figures paint a very skewed picture: “On the face of it, these numbers could suggest there is a considerable amount of illegal hunting going on and that the Act is in some way working. It does not take much digging, however, to discover that the ‘hunting’ that people are being prosecuted for is far from the organised hunting targeted by politicians and animal rights groups during the

progress of the legislation.”

The Countryside Alliance also pointed out that the area with the highest number of prosecutions under the Act was Merseyside, where there have been 20 convictions, seven of which were for hunting rats without the permission of the landowner. “The rest were prosecuted for hunting rabbits, hares and foxes — again, all without the permission of the landowner. Most were likely to have been liable for prosecution before the Hunting Act was passed under

other pieces of legislation dealing with poaching,” added Simon Hart.

The rest of this article appears in 29 January issue of Shooting Times.

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