The claim by the RSPCA’s Sophie Wilkinson about the public’s attitude to hunting (Swindon Advertiser, 24 January 2014) fails to mention that recent polls have included loaded questions, comparing hunting with hounds to dog fighting and badger baiting. No one is calling for dog fighting or badger baiting to be legalised, but their inclusion in a poll does help produce the desired result.

Furthermore, despite Ms Wilkinson’s denial, scenting hounds are indeed selective, generally catching the old, weak, injured and sick animals in a process similar to wolves hunting their prey. Importantly, there is no chance of an animal being wounded, as the quarry is either caught or escapes unscathed. This, though, may not be seen as a problem by the RSPCA, given the amazing statement in 2005 made by the society’s former director general, “There is not absolute proof that wounded foxes suffer...”

Instead of holding to a flawed Hunting Act that clearly does wild animals no favours, would it not be better for the RSPCA to support a new welfare law that would protect all wild mammals from all unnecessary suffering in all circumstances?

Such a law would bring the principle of protection of wild mammals into line with domestic animals and result in accusations of cruelty being decided on sound evidence, rather than dodgy polls and blinkered prejudice.

James Barrington, Animal Welfare Consultant, London