Joint Committee On Human Rights Third Special Report

Annex 1



  9.1  This note is based on a study carried out for the Inquiry by Professor S R and Ms D F Harrop of the University of Kent, to whom the Committee is most grateful. In the time available to them, it was not possible to obtain information from as many parts of the world as would have been desirable. Nor was it possible to provide exhaustive reports on hunting with dogs and its regulatory background on those countries that have been included.

  9.2  We have divided the countries considered, somewhat arbitrarily, into four groups:

    —  countries or states that share a lot in common with England and Wales in respect of hunting heritage, current practice and the legal framework;

    —  countries where the emphasis in the way hunting is practised differs from England and Wales;

    —  countries or states where the English-style of hunting with dogs either hardly exists, or, to a greater or lesser extent, has been banned; and

    —  France, a country on its own because hunting with dogs is an extremely popular activity.

  9.3  It must be borne in mind that many of the countries discussed in this note have a greater number of quarry species which can be hunted with dogs, but, for the sake of brevity, we have limited our description to the four quarry species which are the subject of our report.


  9.4  The countries or states where the current practice of hunting with dogs, and its legal and regulatory framework, most closely resemble the situation in England and Wales are Ireland, Scotland, Australia (State of Victoria), Portugal and Italy. Apart from in Scotland, it should be noted, however, that governments in this groups of states have assumed a greater supervisory role in recent years.


  9.5  The Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 prohibits all methods of killing deer other than by shooting. Dogs may, however, still be used to assist in hunting, although English-style mounted hunting with registered packs of deer-hounds is not practised.

  9.6  There are 10 mounted packs of foxhounds, mostly based south of Edinburgh and regulated by the Scottish MFHA. The Scottish Hill-Packs Association hunts with dogs on foot and receives a government grant for its contribution to fox control in the Grampian region. In addition, fox destruction packs, which often make use of older hounds to chase foxes to waiting guns, operate in hilly areas. Autumn/cub hunting takes place for the third week in August, as in England and Wales, for the stated purpose of fox control. There is no organised hunting of hares or mink with dogs.

  9.7  Almost identical legislative measures as those in England and Wales deal with issues of animal welfare, up to and including the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996. At the time this report is being written, a Private Member's Bill, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Bill, introduced by Lord Watson, is proceeding through the Scottish Parliament. The central features of the Bill are to prohibit the use of dogs in hunting, searching for and coursing any wild mammal. There is scope in the Bill to grant licences for the use of a tightly controlled dog for stalking, flushing out, retrieving, locating escaped or injured animals and the provision of food for consumption by a living creature.


  9.8  Hunting with dogs is a well-supported pastime with, for example, over 300 fox packs. The same quarry species are hunted as in England and Wales and there are similar Associations regulating the different packs.

  9.9  The Hunting Association of Ireland was formed in 1997 and, in 1998, in response to concern about unacceptable practice in terrier work, negotiated and agreed a Code of Conduct with the Department of Agriculture. The Code is essentially the same as that operated by the MFHA and the other associations in England and Wales which use terriers. One regulation, not mirrored in England and Wales, is that earth stopping is allowed only as a safety measure for humans and other animals, and to assist in the finding of foxes above ground. It should not be for the sole purpose of preventing a hunted fox from going to ground, and, in general, is only to be undertaken on land traversed early on in the hunt.

  9.10  Coursing is a popular greyhound sport. Most of the coursing which takes place is "park", in which the coursing takes place within enclosures.

State of Victoria, Australia

  9.11  Foxhunting with dogs is widespread in the state of Victoria, where the fox is declared vermin. There are also foxhound packs outside Victoria and some hunting of deer on foot with hounds, mainly in the mountain areas.

  9.12  In Victoria, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and the Code of Practice 1990 have a considerable impact on the practice of foxhunting, and bring it within the ambit of legislation and state regulation in a manner that is not quite comparable to the situation in England and Wales. The Act makes it a criminal offence to commit an act of cruelty upon any animal. Deliberately terrifying, killing and injuring animals, including wild foxes, are examples of the offence, and may even possibly constitute the more serious offence of aggravated cruelty. Foxhunting is permissible only as an exception to the provisions of the Act, if it complies with a Code of Practice, which has been prepared or altered by the Minister of Agriculture, with the approval of the relevant Governor in Council. Currently, the Code specifies that fox hunters must be members of clubs affiliated with the Hunt Clubs Association of Victoria, or another organisation approved to use horse and hounds for hunting foxes. Generally, the provisions of the Code allow hunting to be carried out in the same manner as recommended by the MFHA for England and Wales. Five differences are worth pointing out:

    —  it is mandatory that dogs used should be properly selected, trained to hunt the target animal only and not used if they do not kill quickly by instinct;

    —  if a fox not hunted by the pack is marked to ground, the dogs must be immediately removed and the fox left undisturbed;

    —  the welfare of the hounds is a concern of the Code. They must be healthy and not used where there is an unacceptable risk of heat exhaustion/serious injury;

    —  terrierwork remains permissible, although the Code does state that if a fox which has not been hunted by the pack is marked to ground, the dogs must be immediately removed and the fox left undisturbed; and

    —  the Code does not address autumn/cub hunting. This is not an activity much practised due to the dry summer terrain of the State.


  9.13  There is currently only one mounted foxhound pack in existence. All forms of hunting are regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture. Those applying to fox hunting are similar to the MFHA's, although a major difference is that digging-out does not take place. If a fox goes to ground, the hunt is considered finished. In 1999, a Bill to prohibit foxhunting failed to reach the debate stage in Parliament, having met strong organised opposition.


  9.14  There is one mounted fox hunting pack, operating in a form similar to MFHA packs. The fox is regarded as a pest, and therefore the emphasis is on the kill, with both digging out and autumn/cub hunting practised. Act no 157 (February 1992) reformed previous hunting regulation, preserving the right to hunt, granted by the State, and, in addition, giving the hunter a countryside management role. Hunting is now linked to wildlife planning service and subject to strict guidelines enforced by the Ministry of Agriculture.


  9.15  In the USA and Canada, there are a significant number of mounted foxhound packs but the emphasis is strongly on the "chase" rather than the "kill". The situation is complex because of differences in the laws of the various states and because there are a greater number of potential quarry species.


  9.16  The Masters of Foxhounds Association of America was established in 1907 and fulfils the same function as the MFHA in England and Wales. There are approximately 157 packs registered but there are also many unregistered packs, generally preferring to hunt at night. Since the emphasis is on the chase, rather than the kill, if the dogs lose the scent or the fox goes to ground, the hunt is concluded or moves on to another quarry. Digging-out does not occur; nor does autumn/cub hunting as practised in England and Wales. Because fox population levels are less dense, there is not the perceived need to cull foxes and autumn activity is aimed more at the training of horses, dogs and riders in the chase. That the emphasis is not generally on the "kill" may be less related to welfare matters than the fact that low fox numbers affect its perceived status as a pest. Coyotes, by contrast, are culled as they are seen as a threat to livestock.

  9.17  Other points to note are:

    —  some States have legislation permitting only the chase, not the kill, unless the prey is already injured or wounded;

    —  the welfare requirements of the hounds and good upkeep of the kennels are included in the regulatory regimes of some States;

    —  hunting deer with dogs is prohibited in some States, not others; and

    —  Federal legislation reserves the right to prohibit hunting in some areas, if it puts endangered species at risk.


  9.18  There are 12 mounted fox packs in Canada, eight of which are in Ontario, although four of these are drag packs. The fox is not perceived as a pest but, on the contrary, is under some pressure from coyote numbers and, therefore, as in the USA, hunts seek to chase, not to kill.

  9.19  The State of Ontario highlights some of the features that distinguish the regulatory background of Canada compared with that of England and Wales.

    —  to be licensed by the Ministry of National Resources, a hunt must be registered with the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America or another organisation with comparable standards;

    —  the terms of the licence do not permit killing or capturing a fox or, possessing or use of a firearm; they also require a pack size of minimum of two, and a maximum of 50, hounds, when hunting, and a minimum of three, and a maximum of 125, participants;

    —  the regulations recognise that the chase may result in a kill but this is not the purpose of the hunt; and

    —  there is not a prescribed closed season, but this is because one is already observed by participants.


  9.20  Countries where hunting with dogs is not practised or is largely banned include Spain, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.


  9.21  Hunting is regulated in Spain by the regional governments. Permits are, however, invariably necessary. There is no mounted hunting with dogs as practised in England and Wales. However, hounds are used to flush out deer to waiting guns and greyhounds are used widely to catch and kill hares.

Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany

  9.22  Hunting in various forms is widespread and highly regulated. There is a substantial amount of welfare legislation in all these countries. There is often the requirement for individuals to pass examinations on the subject before they can hunt. Mounted hunting with dogs or foot packs in the British style is not carried out, and indeed has been banned in Germany since 1936 and, subsequently, both in Sweden and Denmark. However, dogs are still used for flushing out, tracking, retrieving and driving to guns. In Germany, for example, all types of female and young deer and immature red and fallow male deer may be hunted with a rifle having been driven, sometimes for over an hour, by one or several dogs. The same applied to mouflon (wild sheep), red foxes, hare and all game birds. Underground terrierwork is very widespread. It is considered a form of hunting, requiring participants to have passed an examination. In Sweden, game research is financed extensively from hunting fees, and the Hunters' Association has responsibility to keep and collate statistics in relation to animals taken.


  9.23  Hunting is regulated regionally:

    —  Brussels: all hunting is banned;

    —  Flanders: a decree in 1991 and subsequent ministerial action has effectively stopped mounted hunting which used to be carried out in the French manner (see below). One foot pack still operates in the French style; and

    —  Walloonia: a 1995 decree states that hunting with hounds is to be prohibited from 30 June 2000. Existing packs are currently trying to obtain an extension to their licences.


  9.24  Hunting with hounds has a very long tradition and remains popular to this day. In 1981, it was the subject of a decree and circular by the Ministry of Environment which gave legal force to a number of rules relating to the code of hunting with hounds. Specifically, they lay down a scheme whereby all packs have to be licensed by the Director of Agriculture in each "Departement" under the advice of the French hunting with dogs association (Association Francaise des Equipages de Ve«nerie). Certain types of game which are hunted with hounds, such as the red deer and roe deer, are subject to "hunting plans", drawn up by local authorities, although hunting's contribution to the global cull quotas of the various species is very small. The French hunting associations acknowledge that their contribution to population control of the quarry species, while helpful, is negligible when set against the contribution of shooting. Animal welfare does not appear to be a matter much regulated or debated, the main opposition to hunting arising out of questions of land rights and usage and the management of wildlife. More recently, there has also been some concern expressed in the French press that hunting activities may be in some instances transgressing the EU Habitats Directive:

    —  "Grand Ve«nerie" (mounted hunting) pursues the quarry with the use only of hounds and no firearms. It is considered the highest form of hunting activity with dogs and currently enjoys a resurgent popularity. There are 400 hunt kennels, nine recognised breeds of hounds and 7,000 hunting horses. The emphasis is on open, woodland hunting rather than negotiating obstacles, and the chase can last from three to four hours. Grand Ve«nerie has retained more of the historical aspects of hunting than has its English counterpart. This is particularly evident at the end of the hunt, when the deer at bay is often dispatched by the hunter with a sword, lance or hunting knife, rather than a firearm, and rituals around the handling of the carcass will be observed. There are 38 mounted packs (40-50 hounds per pack) hunting red deer in this fashion, 85 (20-30 hounds per pack) that hunt roe deer and 30 packs (80 hounds per pack) that hunt boar. Members pay £1,000-£2,000 to subscribe.

    —  "Petit Ve«nerie" (Foot Packs) is relatively new to France but has experienced rapid growth in popularity. As with mounted hunting, it is practised without the aid of firearms. In total, there are 240 registered packs, 80 hunting foxes, 115 hunting hare and 45 hunting rabbits. It should be noted that hunting the fox with hounds is new to France.

    —  "Ve«nerie Sous Terre" (terrierwork). This is also widely practised. There are 15,000 hounds attached to 1,750 registered clubs. Foxes and badgers are both hunted. The relevant government regulation foresees that the quarry may be dispatched by the dogs, rather than by digging out, and specifies that at least three dogs should be introduced into the earth.

    —  Shooting, with use of dogs and hounds to flush out, stalk or retrieve the quarry, is the most widespread hunting activity involving dogs. Estimates put the number of dogs used for this purpose at around 700,000.

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