10 March 2017
The folk of Macclesfield - and nationwide - were horrified to hear of last week’s atrocity, when a pack of foxhounds, followed by quad-bikers and other members of the Cheshire Forest Hunt, came rampaging through a quiet residential estate. Residents of Penningtons Lane, Gawsworth, bordering open countryside to the south-west of Macclesfield, were appalled when the “frantic” dogs came marauding through their gardens, tearing a terrified fox to pieces. It was very fortunate that no children or other vulnerable people were attacked.
While riding to hounds is not illegal, deliberately setting them to kill foxes or other wild mammals most certainly is, under the Hunting Act of 2004. Away from legally-recognised bridleways, riders need permission to take their horses onto privately-owned land, which they clearly did not have on this occasion. Quad-bikes must display registration plates when being ridden on the public highway - it appears that the riders only affixed number-plates as they were riding away from the incident.
The Hunt has admitted responsibility, and “apologised 100%”. They need to do much more - they must co-operate with the police & RSPCA’s enquiries and make it clear to their members that they must at all times act within the law, respecting the countryside and the people and wildlife that make it their home.
Nationally, opposition to the decriminalisation of foxhunting stands at an all-time high (84%; 82% in rural areas). Shamefully, Macclesfield’s own MP, Conservative David Rutley, has previously stated that he would be in favour of legalisation. Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Environment, also supports lifting the ban and Theresa May has indicated that she would like MPs to vote on repealing the Hunting Act. Should this take place, we urge Mr Rutley to listen to the concerns and views of his constituents and vote against a return to this barbarism.
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