- Norm Fine's Blog
- By Norman Fine
It’s been ten years now since England’s Hunting Act of 2004 was enacted by the Labour government, and neither side is satisfied, says Stephen Moss in The Guardian.
To give the briefest of recaps, here’s what the law allows. Two hounds may be used to flush a fox to a gun; a pack of hounds may be used to flush a fox to a bird of prey; and/or a pack of hounds may follow a drag.
Most hunts in England and Wales opt for the drag. The problem comes when hounds find the line of a live fox and switch from the drag. At that point, huntsman and staff are supposed to stop hounds. The huntsman says, Easier said than done. The hunt monitor with his video cam rolling says, Not only did you fail to try to stop hounds, you even encouraged your hounds! There’s the rub, and there’s the basis of most of the prosecutions in court. In the end, it all depends on the persuasiveness of the evidence.
Tony Blair, prime minister at the time of the bill’s passage, later wrote that his support of the legislation was a mistake. When David Cameron, a foxhunter himself, became prime minister, he promised a free vote in Parliament aimed at reversing the ban. However, he has not been able to get enough support within his own government’s coalition to give him the confidence to push for such a vote.