BOLTON Conservative MP Chris Green says he is open minded about fox hunting — but a survey has found the majority of his constituents are against repealing a ban on the blood sport.

Data from an Ipsos Mori poll commissioned by animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports found that 85 per cent of Bolton West residents surveyed do not want a return to fox hunting.

It was also found that 87 per cent of those questioned would not want a return to deer hunting, while 90 per cent are against hare hunting being made legal again.

The poll surveyed a total of 801 Bolton West constituents — the exact number of Mr Green’s majority.

The Hunting Act came into force in 2005 and banned the hunting of wild mammals, including foxes, deer, hares and mink with dogs in England and Wales — with a ban in Scotland arriving two years later.

However, under the rules it is still legal to use dogs to flush out unidentified wild animals.

It has been reported that new Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom will offer Tory MPs a free vote before the next election on whether the act should be repealed.

Ms Leadsom, a previous leadership challenger, has said she believes repealing the ban could actually improve the welfare of animals.

Now Mr Green, who backed Ms Leadsom’s leadership bid in the summer, has said he is ‘open to a debate’ on the subject.

He said: “I do think there are concerns about the current law and the way it is applied.

“There is a need for farmers to control pests and that includes foxes, which can attack their livestock.

“It is about how we control that and what the best options for controlling fox numbers are.

“At the moment foxes can be flushed out using hounds and then shot — is that the best option?

“As I understand it fox hunting has always been done in the context of land management and that is why farmers would provide access to their land — it isn’t done purely as a sport or pursuit.”

But he added: “I am certainly happy to listen to views from people across the constituency on this.”

Out of the 801 constituents polled by Ipsos Mori, 73 percent indicated they would view an election candidate more favourably if they supported keeping hunting with dogs illegal compared with just three percent of people who said they would view pro-hunting candidates more favourably.