AN MP has shown support for strengthening the hunting plan as it reaches its 14th anniversary.

Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside, said the 2004 Act should be looked into to ensure any loopholes are closed.

Fourteen years after the introduction of the Hunting Act, a key accomplishment of the last Labour government, the Labour Party is campaigning for the eradication of loopholes, such as ‘trail hunting’.

Trail hunting has arisen since the ban on hunting was introduced, and is an entirely different practice to drag hunting, which is a traditional and legitimate pursuit that does not use animal scent or involve the killing or chasing of wild animals.

To address some of the loopholes currently open to exploitation, Labour announced last Boxing Day that in government they would consult on bringing forward amendments to the act.

These included: Review sentencing to ensure effective deterrence includes the use of custodial sentences in line with other wildlife crimes. Strengthening the criteria on which research licenses are issued and the removal of the exemption “Use of dogs below ground to protect birds for shooting”. This risks fights between dogs and wild mammals.

The final amendment was the introduction of a ‘recklessness clause’ to prevent trail hunting from being used as a cover for the illegal hunting of live wild animals.

Mark Tami MP said: "Animal welfare is something my constituents feel very strongly about. I am very proud that the last Labour Government introduced the Hunting Act.

"It is however clear that on the 14th anniversary of its introduction, we must look again to ensure that any loopholes currently open to exploitation through newly developed practices are closed.

"The next Labour Government will be committed not just to maintaining the hunting ban, but to strengthening it."

A recent poll by Survation found that only 16 per cent of those living in rural areas believe hunting with dogs is a reflection of countryside values, while 67 per cent do not.

It also showed that four per cent of people living in the countryside ever take part in hunting with hounds. In contrast, 91 per cent said they thought observing nature was a greater reflection of countryside values.

Sue Hayman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, added: "Labour has always been the party of animal welfare.

"It was Labour who led the way with the 2004 Hunting Act which has laid the foundation for improved animal welfare standards. And it is Labour who are now leading the way, ensuring existing legislation on animal welfare is fit for purpose.

"The strengthening of the Hunting Act would represent a new chapter on the improvement of animal welfare standards in the UK."