Northern Ireland

League Against Cruel Sports joins USPCA in calls for Stormont to ban hunting with dogs

Oscar Wilde characterised fox hunting as “the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”
Hunting with dogs is still legal in Northern Ireland

As the 2023/4 fox hunting season closes, hunting with dogs is still totally legal in Northern Ireland

Encouraging dogs to chase, fight and kill wild animals was banned in England and Wales 20 years ago.

Two years before that, it was banned in Scotland. Last October, the Scottish Parliament closed several loopholes and hunts there are beginning to close-down.

The law In England and Wales regrettably still has loopholes. But as the 2023/4 fox hunting season closes, hunting with dogs is still totally legal in Northern Ireland.

Once Stormont has settled down and dealt with pressing matters it has the chance to learn from previous lessons and quickly introduce a complete and effective ban on hunting with dogs.

Bear baiting, cock fighting and dog fighting were once legal and are no more. Encouraging dogs to go underground to fight with foxes (and often “accidentally” with badgers) should be consigned to history.

Who in their right mind judges the value of a dog by the scars on its face?

Hunting with dogs is simply not an effective form of pest control. If it were, why have some mounted hunts been found encouraging foxes by building “artificial earths”?

As a farmer once asked, “If I have a problem with a fox do you think I wait until the next time the hunt comes through or do you think I go out tonight with a thermal imaging rifle?”

The answer was clear. Of course mounted fox hunting is a tradition.

We have no issue with the pageantry, the social side, the sherry outside the pub before going off on a ride and admiring the skill of the huntsman controlling dozens of dogs.

No issue at all. It’s the dogs cruelly killing the wild animals at the end of the hunt that we want to see stopped.

Bona fide drag hunting allows all the tradition and none of the killing. What’s not to like?

According to a recent opinion poll, almost half of people in Northern Ireland think fox hunting is already banned.

When they realise that it isn’t, between seven and eight out of ten people say it should be.

This increases to 87% when it comes to hunting deer for sport. Some would have us believe that this is a “town versus countryside” issue. But the polls show little difference between the negative attitudes towards hunting with dogs in rural or urban settings.

The fact is groups of farmers are actively campaigning to keep high handed hunts from harming their livestock, pets and property.

For all of these reasons, the League Against Cruel Sorts and the USPCA have agreed to come together and push for a real ban on hunting with dogs.

We are convinced that there is a political will in Stormont to take on this blight on our country. With the help and support of the vast majority of the public who are with us, we firmly believe that we will shortly see a day when hunting with dogs will be no more. We urge you to join us and sign our petition.

:: Robbie Marsland is Northern Ireland and Scotland Director for the League Against Cruel Sports