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Why have a Middle Way?

The hunting debate has been flawed from the very start in that it focussed on just one method within a range of activities involving wildlife management. The prohibition of one particular method is justified only when there is evidence of excessive suffering. Further, the removal of one method inevitably impacts on the other methods that remain legal and this, too, must also be considered. One strong criticism of simplistic anti-hunting Bills in the past has been that there has been no consideration of such repercussions.

The Hunting Act 2004 is no different in this regard. The Act addresses only certain forms of hunting with dogs, does not address any of these other methods of control and does not provide any specific protection for wild mammals.

The Middle Way Group Position

The Middle Way solution to the issue of hunting with dogs is not a cosy compromise between warring factions. Rather it is a no-nonsense, science-based route to improve welfare standards for all wild mammals.

The main policy calls for the general protection of all wild mammals from undue suffering. Such a law would make it an offence to intentionally cause undue suffering to any wild mammal. Its scope would apply not just to foxes, hares, deer and mink, but to all species of wild mammal and it would not just cover hunting with dogs, but all activities, including shooting, trapping and snaring, which involve wild mammals. Accusations of cruelty within any activity would be decided in court, just as cases of domestic animal cruelty are heard.

Such measures avoid legislation based on prejudice and uninformed opinion and provide the means for alleged acts of cruelty to be properly tested in a court of law. Further, just such a law already exists in Northern Ireland, where all animals, wild included, are protected from unnecessary suffering.

Middle Way Group Research

Support for a Middle Way Approach