On February 18th 2005 the Hunting Act came into force and made it an offence to hunt foxes with hounds. The legislation does not ban the killing of foxes, but what it does ban is the cruel method used for some of the killings. In England and Wales it is an offence to hunt a wild mammal (including a fox, regardless of whether it lives in the wild, is captive born or tamed) with dogs. Hare hunting was also made illegal under the same act as was all three types of deer hunting with dogs (stags, spring stags and hinds). There remain many exemptions to the ban on hunting however and these are providing a number of loopholes to the hunting community. Consequently the Countryside Alliance recently announced that "Support for hunts remains solid and the infrastructure of hunting - staff, hounds, kennels - remains intact."
Many people think that snares are already illegal. Unbelievably, some types of snares are still legal in the UK. Snares are thin wire garrottes commonly used by gamekeepers to catch the foxes that are naturally drawn to the artificially elevated numbers of gamebirds in shooting woods. Snares are also set to catch rabbits.
These crude devices can inflict terrible cruelty and suffering on any animals unlucky enough to be trapped in them. They are totally indiscriminate and often catch protected animals, such as badgers and otters, as well as domestic pets and livestock.
There are currently 2000 estates and farms in the UK involved in the rearing and shooting of gamebirds. Under the Game Act 1831 it is unlawful for game to be taken or killed on Sundays and Christmas Day. However, even this brief respite may soon be over as the Government has launched its consultation to consider the removal of these restrictions. If the restrictions are removed shooters will be able to kill birds for 'sport' seven days a week.