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Members of the Senedd back calls for next UK Government to strengthen fox hunting laws

MEMBERS of the Senedd joined animal welfare campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports charity at the Senedd today to back calls for the next UK government to strengthen fox hunting laws.

The MSs expressed their support for a ban on so-called trail hunting and for loopholes in the Hunting Act being exploited by hunts to be closed down.

Chris Luffingham, acting chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said “It’s time for change and to end hunting for good. The laws in Wales and England need to be strengthened.

“We welcome the support of MSs in calling for the next UK government to urgently implement these vital changes which will stop hunts chasing and killing foxes and wreaking havoc on rural communities.”

Carolyn Thomas MS, Chair of the Senedd Cross-Party Group on Animal Welfare said: “It is fantastic to see the Labour Party’s commitment to strengthen the Hunting Act 2004 which is much needed and will close a loophole by banning trail-hunting, a practice used as a cover up for illegal and barbaric fox hunting.

“This will be a huge step forward in ending the horrific cruelty inflicted on foxes in the UK in the name of ‘sport’. We are a nation of animal lovers and I know the vast majority of residents across Wales will want to see an end to this brutal practice.”

Recent polling commissioned by the League shows nearly eight out of 10 (78 per cent) of voters in Wales were in favour of strengthening the Hunting Act with 57 per cent saying they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the strengthening of hunting laws.

The polling was carried out independently by FindOutNow with further analysis by Electoral Calculus in March and April this year.

The campaign is backed by the Time for Change Coalition Against Hunting, representing 34 animal welfare and environmental organisations across Wales and England.

The Scottish Government strengthened its fox hunting laws last year and banned so called trail hunting. Fox hunting laws in Wales are not devolved and are determined by the UK government.

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Trail hunting, the excuse most commonly used by fox hunts, was recently described by Chief Supt Matt Longman, the most senior police officer in Wales and England with responsibility for fox hunting crime, as a “smokescreen for illegal fox hunting”.

He also said the government should close the loopholes which allow the hunting community to continue killing foxes with apparent immunity.

Despite a fox hunting ban coming into force in 2005, the League Against Cruel Sports compiles reports showing hundreds of eyewitness sightings of suspected illegal fox hunting every year across Wales and England.

Chris Luffingham added: “Members of the Senedd, Welsh voters and the police all back calls to strengthen fox hunting laws and we are calling on the next UK government to catch up and change the laws with urgency.”