An animal welfare charity has called for hunting with dogs to be banned in Northern Ireland.
The League Against Cruel Sports is calling on politicians to create new legislation that would ban hunting with dogs, with the Alliance Party planning to table a private members bill in the New Year.
It comes just weeks after shocking footage emerged of a deer being chased by a pack of dogs in Co Down.
Janice Watt, senior public affairs officer for the League Against Cruel Sports in Northern Ireland, said:“We look forward to the public and political parties across the spectrum supporting the move by the Alliance Party to ban the cruel blood sport of hunting with dogs.
“We live in hope that 2020 is the last year that the brutal activity of hunting with dogs remains legal in this country and we look forward to this blood sport being consigned to the history books.”
Alliance Party MLA John Blair will be announcing plans to table a private members bill in the New Year which will outlaw hunts from pursuing and tearing apart foxes, hares and deer and will also prevent individuals setting terriers on wildlife.
An overwhelming majority of the public in Northern Ireland want hunting with dogs to be made illegal, according to polling commissioned by the League in October 2019.*
It showed 84% of people want the blood sport made illegal compared to only 8% who wanted it to remain legal with 8% who did not know.
Northern Ireland is now the only country within the UK that has not introduced a complete ban on fox, stag, and hare hunting – hunting with dogs was banned through the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act in 2002 and in England and Wales in 2005 under the Hunting Act.
Janice Watt, added: “We are hopeful that Northern Ireland will develop legislation that is stronger than that which exists in England, Scotland and Wales and which omits the loopholes and exemptions being exploited by hunts there, to carry on chasing and killing animals.
“Northern Ireland has the chance to develop the most effective legislation found anywhere in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and which ends cruel blood sports in Northern Ireland once and for all.”
This article was first published by Belfast Live on 26 December 2020.
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