West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris is calling for outright ban on all hunting including trail hunting as the traditional Boxing Day hunts take place (on 27th December due to the bank holiday). Three hunts cover parts of the West of England area: Beaufort, Mendip Farmers and Berkeley hunts.
As a stepping stone the Metro Mayor also wants to see the Hunting Act strengthened and loopholes removed which campaigners claim allow hunts to still get away with killing foxes for fun.
Fox hunting was banned in England and Wales following the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004 which Dan Norris, then an MP, voted for. However trail hunting – where hounds are trained to follow an artificial scent is permitted under current legislation. Campaigners believe that some hunts are undermining the law and using trail hunts as a front for actual hunting.
Earlier this year the National Trust agreed with that analysis and in a landmark decision banned trail hunting on its 620,000 acres of land.
Mr. Norris, a long-standing opponent of hunting, said: “2021 was a good year for those of us who care about animal welfare but there were still too many unnecessary deaths of innocent animals – so let’s keep up the pressure in 2022. Fox hunting is cruel and unnecessary. It should be consigned to the history books. It’s disgraceful that in 21st century there is still deliberate and widespread chasing and killing of foxes going on behind smokescreens. I personally believe prison sentences for those convicted of fox hunting would help deter many. If people are looking for entertainment during the Christmas break there are lots of amazing places to visit and things to do in our great West of England region. None of those involve the prospect of killing defenceless animals.”