Almost 80 per cent of respondents back banning hunting with dogs, says Blair

Animals John Blair

Almost 80 per cent of respondents to a consultation are in favour of banning hunting with dogs in Northern Ireland, Alliance MLA John Blair has revealed.

Mr Blair’s proposed Private Member’s Bill seeks to outlaw the practice, which is legal in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK in which it is. The South Antrim MLA has now revealed he received 18,425 responses to a consultation, with 78 per cent saying they would back a ban on all hunting, searching, coursing, capturing or killing wild mammals with dogs in Northern Ireland. Almost 79 per cent supported making landowners liable for any illegal hunting which takes place on their property and over 55 per cent backed imprisonment as a punishment for those guilty of offences under the Bill.

Mr Blair, Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Animal Welfare, said if his Bill passed in its current proposed state, it would make Northern Ireland the standard for banning hunting in the UK.

“It is difficult to believe we are almost in 2021 and still hunting wild mammals with dogs is legal in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“But the phenomenal response to this consultation shows there is widespread public support here to ban the practice. This is not an attack on country sports. Instead, it is a deliberate attempt to stop this practice of using dogs for the kill, which most people see as barbaric and totally socially unacceptable.

“Animal welfare is a priority for Alliance – we want to put an end to this barbaric past time properly and make Northern Ireland a leader in these islands for stopping such cruelty, and hopefully inspiring people to bring change elsewhere. The response to this consultation shows people back that goal.”