Fox-hunters may head for France

By Jonathan BarnesA HUNTING enthusiast is planning to overcome the ban on the country sport by setting up a hunt for Britons in France.Ian Finch, secretary of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, said he hoped to see people from all over the UK travelling across the Channel to go fox-hunting once the pursuit is banned in England and Wales on Friday.

By Jonathan Barnes

A HUNTING enthusiast is planning to overcome the ban on the country sport by setting up a hunt for Britons in France.

Ian Finch, secretary of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds, said he hoped to see people from all over the UK travelling across the Channel to go fox-hunting once the pursuit is banned in England and Wales on Friday.

Permission has been secured to use “an area the size of Suffolk” for hunting in Pau, in Haute Pyrenees.


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Mr Finch, from Hadleigh, said his plan to form the Pau UK Hunt Club was at “an advanced stage” and added: “It's quite a challenge, but it's hugely exciting - lots of people are interested.”

The club would offer packages for individuals and groups to head to south-west France to go fox-hunting from this autumn.

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Mr Finch, who is retired and aged in his 60s, said a pack of hounds would be based at kennels in Pau and that riders would be able to either hire horses there or take their own horses for a holiday.

“We want to see people from across the UK joining the club and we will make arrangements for them to go over there to fox-hunt,” he added.

“I expect to see a lot of interest, particularly from East Anglia, because of the proximity to Stansted. It takes less than two hours to get to Pau and the kennels are five miles from the airport - on the right days the return flights would cost under £20.”

The existing Pau Hunt was formed 165 years ago and was the only group in France that hunted the fox. But membership has fallen and now Pau huntsmen only drag hunt - chasing a scent rather than live prey.

Mr Finch said: “The first hunts in Pau were patronised by the Duke of Wellington and all of the customs and procedures come from England.

“We want to recreate the structure similar to that in the UK, for both social and hunting aspects.

“Part of the country is like hunting in Ireland and part of it is like Leicestershire, which is one of the prime counties in the UK for hunting. I know it will be ideal. There are also no anti-hunting organisations in France.”

He added: “We are looking at membership, where people can arrange to go out there whenever they want as individuals or as organised groups, including private hunting parties.

“We have to keep a limit on numbers, though, and can't accept more than 50 a day. You can't just go over there and set up a pack as there are lots of hurdles to clear. The next step is identifying hounds to go over there.”

However, the plan was greeted with dismay last night by one anti-fox-hunting campaigner.

Lawrie Payne, regional spokesman of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “I feel very sad that people feel they have to go to another country to pursue their cruel and barbaric sport. It just proves how right we were in this country to have banned it in the first place.”

For more information about the Pau UK Hunt Club, contact 01473 810060 or e-mail pau-uk-hunt-club@hotmail.co.uk .

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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