Prosecution against Doncaster hunt dropped amid calls for hunting rules to be changed

An animal welfare charity has called for changes to hunting rules after a prosecution after a Doncaster area hunt was dropped.

The League Against Cruel Sports has backed calls for the Hunting Act to be strengthened after a prosecution against the Badsworth and Bramham Fox Hounds hunt was dropped earlier this year.

The Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hounds hunt has been targeted by the League Against Cruel Sports.

The Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hounds hunt has been targeted by the League Against Cruel Sports.

In the incident near Sykehouse, video evidence showed the hunting pack pursuing a fox along a canal towpath at the New Junction Canal, with the identified huntsman encouraging the hounds will a horn and voice calls.

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The incident, which occurred on 13 January, was investigated and dropped without prosecution in July.

Martin Sims, Director of Investigations at the League Against Cruel Sports, formerly Chief Inspector with Sussex Police and Head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “After 31 years in the police I know what a good case looks like.

“When it comes to hunting, there are far too many strong cases being dropped by the police or CPS where their reasoning is weak at best, and dangerously flawed at worst. 

“The pro-hunting lobby claim that the cases are being brought by animal rights extremists who don’t understand the countryside. In my team at the League we have over 120 years of police experience between us and we beg to differ.  

“I understand that both identifying illegal hunting, and prosecuting it successfully, are difficult.

“Hunting takes place in remote areas.

“The difference between illegal hunting and legal hunting can be narrow – a horn call from the Huntsman sending the hounds after a fox, for example,may prove illegality, if it is captured on video and identified by someone who understands what they are seeing. But too many times, crucial evidence is being misunderstood or ignored.”

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The Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hounds hunt was established in 2002 after an amalgamation between the Badsworth Hunt and the Bramham Moor Foxhounds.

The group stages hunt across Yorkshire, stretching from the Pennines to the River Humber as well as parts of South Yorkshire up into rural North and West Yorkshire. 

In a Guardian article reporting on the prosecutions being dropped, Sue Hayman, shadow Environment Secretary, said: The government must enhance and strengthen the Hunting Act, as Labour has pledged, closing loopholes that allow for illegal hunting of foxes and hares.

“Sweeping government cuts to police forces and the lack of resource for the National Wildlife Crime Unit are having a clear impact on investigating and convicting those responsible for wildlife crimes.”

The Guardian reported that in parts of the country, recorded hunting offences are on the rise, yet the number of overall prosecutions more than halved from 127 in 2014 to 52 in 2017.

The League Against Cruel Sports has started a petition calling for an end to the killing of animals by hunts in the UK. The petition has over 100,000 signatures.