20/05/2015 06:24 BST | Updated 19/05/2016 06:59 BST

Keep Cruelty History - Protect the Hunting Act

Contrary to pro-hunt propaganda, the Hunting Act was not brought in to stop people killing foxes (or deer, hares and other mammals traditionally hunted with packs of dogs); it was brought in to stop these animals being killed in the cruellest of ways.

The scientific evidence is conclusive; foxes, deer and hares suffer physical and mental stress when they are chased by a pack of hounds - and the riders, horses and horns that accompany them - and this suffering occurs whether or not they are eventually killed. A parliamentary inquiry (commonly known as the Burns Report) established this fact back in 2000, and that is why hunting was outlawed in Britain more than a decade ago.

Red deer are a relatively sedentary species and not equipped for a forced chase lasting three hours or more. The physical damage and exhaustion hunted deer endure 'could hardly be more severe in welfare terms' according to leading animal welfare scientists.

Hares escape predators by sprinting at high speeds for short distances; however, hounds under human control can pursue a hare for much longer. The Burns Report concluded that 'this experience seriously compromises the welfare of the hare.' In hare coursing, where sighthounds such as lurchers compete to catch and kill a hare, the chase is generally shorter but extremely intense. The injuries suffered by the hare are horrific; autopsies have revealed broken ribs and limbs, ruptured abdomens and organ damage.

Autopsies of hunted foxes show that they are not killed quickly, as hunt supporters often claim. Instead many endure painful bites and tears to their flanks and hindquarters before they are killed. If a fox manages to escape the hounds and flee underground for safety, hunt staff send terriers down after it to trap the fox while men dig down and then shoot it. The inability to escape the dogs underground causes the fox 'extreme fear' and is a 'serious compromise of its welfare' according to the parliamentary report.

Claims that animal welfare has not been improved by the Hunting Act - which bans these acts of cruelty - are clearly nonsense. The fear and suffering caused by hunting with dogs is blatantly obvious to anyone who has compassion for animals. That is why the overwhelming majority of British people are opposed to legalising fox hunting (80%), deer hunting (86%) and hare hunting (88%) - because one of the greatest British traditions is compassion for animals. And that is one tradition worth protecting.

To contact your MP about the Hunting Act, you can take the League Against Cruel Sports simple action.