THE difficulty in debating the validity of the Hunting Act with some people who are strongly anti-hunting, such as Gill Purser (SA, March 22), is that they are utterly convinced hunting a wild mammal can never be acceptable, even though the process is, in the main, natural for both hunter and hunted. That is why they cling to this discredited law and conveniently ignore other means of control replacing hunting that are non-selective and capable of wounding.
I urge the public, and in particular MPs who will have to debate repeal of this law at some stage, to examine closely what the current legislation does and what measures may be brought forward to replace it. The Hunting Act simply creates technical offences, rather than genuine improvements in animal welfare and is full of inconsistencies. Gill Purser says that the Hunting Act should be amended, but this is a law that has had numerous previously drafted Bills and has been discussed and debated over decades. It cost anti-hunting groups £30m and yet they still couldn't get it right.
I agree with one point Gill raises and that is there should be a proper debate about how this issue could be resolved. Currently, there are discussions about a new law that gives all wild mammals protection from proven cruelty. This would cover all activities, so the scope of such a law would be far wider than just hunting. However, instead of being based upon the assumption that hunting with hounds is cruel, it relies on evidence not simply opinion. Importantly, many hunting people agree with such a move, but oddly, some anti-hunting people do not.
To seek to reduce cruelty to wild animals is an honourable aim and that is the principle on which this new law is based. That is very different to the Hunting Act, a law that has been shown to be unworkable, unprincipled and detrimental to animal welfare.
James Barrington Animal Welfare Consultant London